The Oklahoman's Mike Sherman took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat covering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma City Thunder and more. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. CST on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a recap of today's Q&A:
ON OKLAHOMA SOONERS FOOTBALL:
I thought Landry Jones played great against West Virginia. Your thoughts?
Never better, in every way. The last throw -- an audible to Kenny Stills -- goes down as the signature moment of his OU career. I can't imagine a better way for him to go into Senior Day. He showed poise. His one interception wasn't the typical locked-in-on-a-receiver variety. It was essentially a punt -- arm punt as they call it. He was incredible and OU needed every ounce of it.
I think Landry Jones played great against an awful defense.
That's true. But since a better one wasn't available Saturday night in Morgantown I'm not holding it against him.
How would you grade Mike Stoops' return and performance at OU? Still a success?
I'd give him a B-minus. You can't really blame the defense for either of the two losses -- Kansas State or Notre Dame. OU's high-powered offense produced two touchdowns against K-State and one against the Irish. Not saying the Sooner defense was dominant, but it was good enough to win both games. Now, the last two games have been atrocious. I don't buy the bit about having to choose between stopping the pass or run, and was glad to see Bob Stoops didn't trot it out Saturday night in West Virginia.
The true measure of Mike Stoops' return will probably be in recruiting. Let's see how he upgrades the defense between now and Signing Day 2013. But Mike Stoops is the defensive coordinator for a team with a chance to win a Big 12 title.
How did OU get to the point where its linebackers are so bad?
I don't know, but outside of Te'o at Notre Dame where have all the dominant linebackers gone? Who has great linebacking these days? Are LBs and endangered species? Finding guys who can fill a hole to stuff a run AND drop back in coverage against slot receivers and tight ends like Blake Jackson AND tackle Tavon Austin in the open field? There just can't be too many of those guys walking the Earth. Time for the species to evolve. Maybe turning 7-on-7 into a tackle-football operation would help. That said, yes, OU needs better linebackers. Put that on Mike Stoops/Tim Kish's offseason to-do list.
Do you think that OU's banged up offensive line will struggle this week?
I've been hearing that these are the best defensive tackles OSU has had in a long time. James Castleman sure looked good Saturday and I hear good things about Calvin Barnett, though I'd have to study it a lot more to say how good he is. If those DTs are really that much better than OU's line could struggle. But the way offensive football is played in the Big 12 these day, coordinators seem to have a lot of ways to work around line troubles. It shows up some, but not in a decisive way.
ON OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS FOOTBALL:
Who's your pick in the Bedlam game?
I have until Wednesday to decide, which is a good thing because I don't know. Going with the home team in this rivalry is probably the safe way, which I didn't choose last year (I believe Berry Tramel and I were the only staff members who picked the Sooners, and we all know how that turned out).
Here's what would make me more prone to pick the Cowboys to pull off the (moderate) upset: A better running game. Oklahoma State isn't running the football the way it did last year.
Berry Tramel posted a blog on this topic earlier today, pointing out that Joseph Randle has gone three games without a 100-yard performance. Seems like Saturday would be a good time to rediscover the running game considering the Sooners gave up 458 yards on the ground to Tavon Austin and the Moutaineers.
I haven't had the chance to read Berry's blog about OSU's running game, but one reason it's been tougher the past two games is because WVU and TTU both crowded the box to stop the run and challenged Chelf to beat them passing, which he did.
That's a good point. Berry points out that Randle averaged 3.9 yards a carry during that three-game span without a 100-yard performance. Before that he averaged 5.9 in the first six games. OU's strategy of backing off to defend the pass hasn't worked so swimmingly versus Baylor and West Virginia, so Randle may see something similar Saturday.
I'm glad Gundy named Clint Chelf the starter for Bedlam after all these weeks of QB drama. But if Lunt is going to be the guy in the future, why not go with him?
Because Mike Gundy obviously believes Clint Chelf gives OSU the best chance to win. Maybe because Wes Lunt still isn't 100 percent healthy. Probably because he's made some bad decisions on throws that turned into interceptions. And definitely because the future is now.
OSU is still in the running for the Big 12 title -- though it would take some breaks and sorting out through a four-way tie. The Cowboys are still in the running for a BCS bowl and all of that depends on beating OU. I'd say after the last two weeks Chelf gives them the best chance to do that, though it will be interesting to see where Gundy goes if Chelf struggles -- Walsh or Lunt. I'd probably bet on Walsh, but who knows.
Another thing that would help OSU win the game would be if they can get the kind of pressure on Landry that they got last year. That was the biggest key to last year's win. OSU's D has been improving. They got a lot of pressure on Doege.
That was the deciding factor in Bedlam 2011. Few pocket passers handle pressure well. Last year the performance of OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert and Brod Brown probably affording the Cowboy front seven the luxury of going after Landry Jones more aggressively. Those guys haven't played as well this year, but OU's offensive line upheaval has been greater this year. Something definitely to watch. I wonder if OSU had better pass rushers last year? The Cowboys have 20 sacks through 10 games this year and had 30 through 13 last year.
OSU has not beaten anyone on the road this year. Your thoughts?
Well, they've only had three opportunities and I'm assuming you're throwing out the win at Kansas. Blown out at Arizona, handled at Kansas State. Not impressive. A total turnaround from the last two years in which they twice won at Texas. I file it under "we'll see." I'm not ready to draw any big conclusions from it due to the small sample size, but I'd say that's why the Sooners are eight-point favorite Saturday.
ON OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS BASKETBALL:
Is OSU men’s basketball that good? A blow out win against a sixth ranked team is shocking.
Our man John Helsley has been telling me to keep an eye on Marcus Smart since the day the Cowboys signed him. He's been everything John said, and probably more. The way he fills up a stat sheet and elevates those around him is just what the Cowboys need. He's just what LeBryan Nash has needed -- seems like he's straightened up and is flying right. And Smart is also what college basketball in Oklahoma has needed -- a reason to care. It's exciting and college hoops fans around here haven't had much to be excited about in a while. (One upset a year in Stillwater notwithstanding.)
ON CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT:
Does the Big 12 kick the tires on adding another team or two with the latest round of realignment?
The Maryland-Rutgers move to the Big Ten is being framed as the start of the next round of realignment. We'll see, but I don't see the Big 12 going out and adding a Louisville as a reaction. Otherwise, Louisville would have already been added. Is there any chance that the next move on the path to super conferences is a partnership with the Pac-12? That said, I'd personally like to see the Big 12 get back to 12 or even 14, and get back to having a conference title game. I miss it.
ON THE NFL:
Brandon Weeden just looked bad yesterday. It's the first time I've gotten to watch a Browns game this year so I don't know if this is the standard for him this year. Is it the offense they run, the line (although the protection was good yesterday) or what? His throws looked high/behind most of the day.
Brandon Weeden has the misfortune of being a rookie quarterback on a bad team that has a new owner who wants to clean house. There's a strong chance that the folks who drafted and coached him in Cleveland won't be around next year, and he hasn't risen above his circumstances enough -- if at all -- to convince anyone that he deserves to be the QB. Fortunately for him, this isn't nearly as strong a QB draft class as last year's, so the Browns may not have a first-round option they like. I watched that game yesterday and the Browns looked better running the ball than they did throwing.
Here's what would be interesting: If the new Browns ownership/management/coaching team drafted Landry Jones and we had a Bedlam competition for the starting job in Cleveland. Of course, Landry's draft stock remains a question in my mind, but I'm no expert.
ON THE NBA:
Will Thunder fans treat James Harden the way they have treated old favorites like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin upon their returns? Polite but not enthusiastic applause during pregame introductions, then he's just another player? What's the proper protocol?
There's really no protocol, although I'd recommend not booing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Booing Blake Griffin in his hometown was a low moment for a fan base that's among the NBA's best. I think you had it about right. The Beard will be cheered, maybe even enthusiastically in introductions when he comes to The Peake for that Nov. 28 game. But after that he's probably on his own. There will be few cheering him if he drops 30 on OKC. He's averaging 26.0 but has come down to early a little lately and is shooting 41 percent for a 4-6 team.