The Oklahoman's Mike Sherman took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Among the topics covered: OU's loss to K-State, what the rest of the season might look like for the Sooners, the keys to OSU taking down Texas this weekend in Stillwater, and the future of James Harden with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Read the complete transcript here.
OU-Kansas State was a horrible game, Mike. What do the Sooners have to do to get back into the national title picture?
The change has to happen in recruiting. There has to be a good mix of Oklahoma and Texas recruits for whom being a Sooner was something they dreamed of. Those are the guys who are beholden to the program and not the other way around.
Sure you've got to mix in Florida and California guys. Go get players where ever you can find them. Those three Muskogee guys who all washed out? That famed receiver class that included Josh Jarboe? These are the mistakes the Sooners are paying for now. That national title picture? They won't be in it this year, no matter what Landry Jones says. They're not good enough.
Your thoughts about OSU vs TX. Do you think OSU's defense will stop TX offense?
The question to me is can the Cowboys beat one of the Big 12's top two defenses with a backup quarterback. I'm picking Texas in a close one. I think OSU's defense can be successful, but the turnover trend seems to have ended. Texas has the best defense in this game, and OSU's diminished downfield passing threat (and it will be even if Lunt plays) gives the Horns the edge.
What are the chances of OU going to the national title game if they win the rest of their games?
Big, big, if. But I'll bite. The Sooners certainly have the games remaining to climb the ladder. Games with No. 9 (WVU), No. 10 (Notre Dame), No. 12 (Texas), No. 15 (TCU) gives you the rungs to climb. Again, a big, big if -- because I don't see them winning all those games -- but they could get close. I'd say yes if there was still a Big 12 title game because that would give them a shot at avenging that Kansas State loss. A home loss is difficult to surmount both for the perception and what it says -- you're not as good as you have been.
What is your prediction on Harden? I think he plays this year and in the offseason Presti gets the best deal he can in a sign and trade like maybe young players and/or picks.
The sign-and-trade option is interesting. But since he's a restricted free agent that would mean the team that offered him would need to gain a big benefit from it too. Probably would mean the Thunder would have to take on some salary (bad contract) and Presti doesn't have that flexibility any more.
The fact that they are still talking means a) The Thunder is still trying to make it work and b) Harden wants to stay here. This is a franchise with an intense focus. I can't see them losing it here, even if it means losing a key, key piece. I think Harden is probably gone and may go the route of Jeff Green, getting traded before the February deadline. If he stays he'll be staying for maybe $3 million a year under the market. I give that a 30 percent chance of happening.
What will be the keys to the game this Saturday for OSU to be able to get the win?
OSU's defense has to get back in the business of creating turnovers. The Cowboys aren't built to get a ton of three-and-outs. They are still a bend-but-don't-break defense that last year depended on turnovers. Teams could put together 8-10 play drives, but that 10th play was going to be a pick. Need those. Depend on those. Without them this is the Longhorns' game, and it's even more important if Walsh is the starter, and I'm expecting him to be.
Do you think the Sooners will lose any more games this season or you think they learned their lesson?
Here's how I'd rate the rest of the OU season:
DEFINITE WIN: Kansas
SHOULD WIN: Baylor, OSU, at Iowa State
TOSS UP: Notre Dame, at Texas Tech, at TCU
CLEAR UNDERDOG: Texas, at West Virginia
So, yes. I think they'll lose again this season. I think there are some improvements that can be made. But I don't think they have the players around Landry Jones that will allow him to function as he has in previous years. I just don't know if that's fixable this season. One thing I'm interested to see: Will Heupel go to the running game more? Try to shorten the game a la Kansas State. The offense is more mistake-prone and less explosive.