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January 2, 2014

Getting ground game going key for OU against high-powered Alabama

(Continued)

New Orleans —

OU coach Bob Stoops’ decision to not name a starting quarterback for the Sugar Bowl has had the intended effect. Alabama has spent the last three weeks studying film on both. The offense OU was running in the middle of the season with Bell as the starter spreads the field and is very similar to the one OU ran under Landry Jones.

It has its uses. The Sooners couldn’t have beaten Oklahoma State and set up the Sugar Bowl berth without the classic two-minute drive Bell led for the game-winning touchdown.

But the offense OU has used since the second half of the Iowa State game — the zone-read-heavy one that Trevor Knight directs — has been the most effective and the one that seems to take the Sooners in the direction they want to go Thursday and in the future.

The drawback: fail to run the ball and the winning formula goes from a science to a fluke. The Sooners aren’t really built to covert third-and-10s like it once was. 

“We have to match up on first and second down, get some good yards. We have to make our zone read work. We have to make the right reads,” Knight said. “We absolutely have to be in third-and-manageable situations.”

When the Sooners have done those things, they’ve been a formidable team. The only time it really hasn’t was the losses to Texas and Baylor. The offense has changed some since then. The running game, however, has been a constant all season and its importance is elevated. OU’s hopes hinge on its success Thursday.

“If we can’t run the ball, it’ll be a long day for us,” Ikard said.

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Note: John Shinn is a sports writer for the Norman Transcript.

 

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