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G A M E D AY TA B L O I D F O R S O O N E R F O O T B A L L | F R E E

INSIDE THE HUDDLE THIS WEEK

NO. 16

Oklahoma vs.

West Virginia GAMEDAY

Earning their stripes OU is ‘striping the stadium’ this weekend P6 COLUMN

OU’s option attack How the Sooner’s new-look offense piled up more than 300 yards rushing against ULM P11 FEATURE

Pushing the pile OU’s improved defensive line P13

THE KNIGHTMAN COMETH Ready or not, the Sooners’ redshirt-freshman quarterback has been thrust into the limelight P8

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9/3/13 5:44 PM


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INSIDE THE HUDDLE

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

COLUMN

a Student Media publication in association with

Take Sooners defensive domination of Louisiana-Monroe with a grain of salt INSIDE THE HUDDLE EDITOR

160 Copeland Hall 860 Van Vleet Oval Norman, OK 73019-2052 phone: 405-325-3666 email: dailysports@ou.edu

CONTRIBUTORS Dillon Phillips Inside the Huddle editor twitter: @DillonPhillips_

Julia Nelson Sports editor twitter: @Juliaaahhh

Joe Mussatto Assistant sports editor twitter: @Joe_Mussatto

Zach Sepanik Sports reporter email: Zachary.J.Sepanik-1@ ou.edu Sam Hoffman Sports columnist email: samhoffman@ou.edu Kyle Margerum The Oklahoma Daily editor Kearsten Howland Advertising manager

ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-002.indd 2

Dillon Phillips dillon.phillips@ou.edu

O

klahoma enters Saturday’s game after a stifling defensive performance in its season opener against Sun Belt foe Louisiana-Monroe. Against the Warhawks, the Sooners had their first shutout since blanking Iowa State, 52-0, on Oct. 16, 2010 in Norman. They held the Warhawks — who averaged 433 yards and 38 points per game last season — under 200 yards of total offense, limiting them to just 38 yards rushing despite playing only six players in the box for the majority of the game. OU’s front seven looked much improved, especially the defensive line, which sacked ULM senior quarterback Kolton Browning twice and pestered him all night. But like most season openers, the Sooners’ performance in their shutout of ULM needs to be taken with a grain of salt. While last year’s ULM squad beat Arkansas and took Auburn and Baylor down to the wire, it lost three of its last five games — all against nonBCS schools —by an average score of 43-20. OU also had its fair share of struggles offensively. Despite rushing for more than 300 yards, the Sooners barely eclipsed 100 yards passing with redshirt-freshman quarterback Trevor Knight going 11-for-28 and for just 86 yards. He looked anxious in the pocket early and tentative at times, but

improved as the game went along, tossing three touchdown passes. Knight also was effective running the football — he ran for 103 yards on 13 carries — and with a game under his belt, he should be more comfortable when dropping back to pass. If the Sooners expect to move the ball against the Mountaineers, TREVOR KNIGHT who probably will load the box and dare Knight to beat them with his arm, then he’ll have to be. As much flak as West Virginia is catching for sleepwalking through a sleepy win against William & Mary, it’s a better football team than people are giving it credit. And if the Sooners come into Saturday’s game resting on their laurels, things could get pretty interesting. Althought the Mountaineers struggled to move the ball against the Tribe last weekend, junior quarterback Paul Millard efficiently operated West Virginia’s offense. Millard completed 76 percent of his passes and had the offense clicking in a system that’s proven it’s tough stop — OU allowed a school-record 778 yards against West Virginia a year ago. Now, if Louisiana-Monore is an indicator of what’s to come from this new OU defense, which prominently features a 3-3-5 package to defend the spread, it’s unlikely the Sooners will suffer a colossal defensive meltdown like it did a year ago in Morgantown. But expect the Mountaineers to put up more of a fight than the Warhawks. After all, it’s the start of Big 12 ball.

Dillon Phillips is a professional writing senior and Inside the Huddle editor at The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @DillonPhillips_

WHAT’S NEXT

Sooners kick off conference play OU kicks off its Big 12 schedule against West Virginia at 6 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. This will be the earliest the Sooners have begun conference play under coach Bob Stoops, as they host the Mountaineers in week two of the 2013 season. Here’s the remainder of OU’s 2013 conference schedule:

Oct. 5 vs No. 24 TCU Oct. 12 vs. No. 15 Texas Oct. 19 at Kansas Oct. 26 vs. Texas Tech Nov. 7 at No. 23 Baylor Nov. 16 vs. Iowa State Nov. 23 at Kansas State Dec. 7 at No. 13 OSU

Are you on Twitter? Stay connected with The Oklahoma Daily

@OUDaily, @OUDailyStudent @OUDailyArts, @OUDailySports @OUDailyOpinion, @OUDailyGov 9/3/13 5:45 PM


INSIDE THE HUDDLE

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

3

OU depth chart

The Sooners’ starters against West Virginia LT

LG

C

RG

RT

TE

WR

WR

WR

OFFENSE

71 Tyrus Thompson

Jr.

72 Derek Farniok

So.

74 Adam Shead

Jr.

77 Dionte Savage

Jr.

64 Gabe Ikard

Sr.

56 Ty Darlington

So.

68 Bronson Irwin

Sr.

54 Nila Kasitati

So.

79 Daryl Williams

Jr.

72 Derek Farniok

So.

82 Brannon Green

Sr.

FB

RB

DT

DT

DE

OLB

MLB

85 Geneo Grissom

Jr.

99 Chaz Nelson

Sr.

98 Chuka Ndulue

Jr.

95 Quincy Russell

Jr.

80 Jordan Phillips

So.

93 Jordan Wade

R-Fr.

91 Charles Tapper

So.

40 P.L. Lindley

So.

7 Corey Nelson

Sr.

25 Aaron Franklin

Jr.

20 Frank Shannon

So.

19 Eric Striker

So

9 Gabe Lynn

Sr.

89 Connor Knight

R-Fr.

88 Taylor McNamara

R-Fr.

11 LaColtan Bester

Sr.

24 Trey Franks or

Jr.

6 Dannon Cavil

Fr.

4 Hatari Byrd

Fr.

8 Jalen Saunders

Sr.

10 Quentin Hayes

Jr.

17 Trey Metoyer

So.

18 Ahmad Thomas

Fr.

3 Sterling Shepard

So.

2 Julian Wilson

Jr.

12 Derrick Woods

R-Fr.

23 Kass Everett

Sr.

14 Aaron Colvin

Sr.

27 Dakota Austin

Fr.

22 Cortez Johnson

So.

15 Zack Sanchez

R-Fr.

85 K.J. Young QB

DE

DEFENSE

9 Trevor Knight

Fr.

SS

NICKEL

LCB

R-Fr.

10 Blake Bell

Jr.

1 Kendal Thompson

So.

33 Trey Millard

Sr.

48 Aaron Ripkowski

Jr.

24 Brennan Clay or

Sr.

26 Damien Williams

Sr.

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FS

RCB

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inside the huddle

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

WIND

WVU’s depth chart Offense LT

LG

C

RG

RT

WR

WR

WR

QB

RB

FB

67 Quinton Spain

Jr.

79 Nick Kindler

Sr.

78 Marquis Lucas

So.

76 Pat Eger

Sr.

65 Tyler Orlosky

R-Fr.

69 Tony Matteo

R-Fr.

64 Mark Glowinski

Jr.

73 Russell Haughton-James

So.

62 Curtis Feigt

Sr.

77 Marcell Lazard

Fr.

85 Ivan McCartney

Sr.

12 Ronal Carswell

So.

6 Daikiel Shorts

Fr.

82 Devonte Mathis

R-Fr.

19 K.J. Myers

So.

11 Kevin White

Jr.

14 Paul Millard

Jr.

9 Clint Trickett

Jr.

3 Charles Sims

Sr.

4 Wendell Smallwood

Fr.

88 Cody Clay

Sr.

42 Garrett Hope

ONE O

Defense

So.

DE

DT

45 Eric Kinsey

So.

20 Dontrill Hyman

Jr.

98 Will Clarke

Sr.

97 Noble Nwachukwu NT

LB

LB

LB

LB

CB

CB

FS

BAN

—FOR THE—

R-Fr.

SOONERS

90 Shaq Rowell

Sr.

95 Christian Brown

So.

32 Brandon Golson

Jr.

17 Dozie Ezemma

Sr.

31 Isaiah Bruce

Sr.

51 Marvin Gross

Fr.

33 Jared Barber

Jr.

47 Doug Rigg

So.

35 Nick Kwiatkoski

So.

53 Tyler Anderson

Sr.

26 Travis Bell

Jr.

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22 Avery Williams

So.

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9/3/13 5:48 PM


inside the huddle

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

5

guest column

West Virginia wary after weathering William & Mary guest columnist

standpoint. Let’s not forget to take notice that the Sooners looked fairly sharp in their first game against Louisiana-Monroe. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries and threw three touchdown Amit Batra passes, including two to amit.batra@mail.wvu.edu senior wide receiver Jalen ast weekend when Saunders, and Oklahoma West Virginia bare- was able to cruise to a ly got by an FCS 34-0 victory. While some opponent that went 2-9 last of Knight’s passes weren’t season, concern struck all perfection, he looked over the WVU community. strong in his debut. On Saturday, the OU coach Bob Stoops Mountaineers beat the had his team ready on Tribe of William and Mary, all three sides of the ball. 24-17, after trailing, 17-7, Defensively, you couldn’t at halftime. Now, West have asked for more as an Virginia has to travel to Oklahoma fan. Norman to play the No. 16 “Defensively, it’s one team in the country. of the better games we’ve While West Virginia’s had in a long, long time,” junior starting quarterStoops said following the back, Paul Millard, looked game. “All the assignments, fairly solid, it wasn’t the the communication, was performance coach Dana maybe as sharp as we’ve Holgorsen had in mind. had.” And now with an early More concern for West conference test, Holgorsen Virginia and its offense doesn’t know where to start going into this game. WVU in terms of concerns. can’t fall behind early or it “Where do you want me could be a very long night to start?” he said following for the Mountaineers. At the William & Mary game. the end of the day, it will be “We’re going to a place that all about consistency. is incredibly, incredibly West Virginia put tohard to play. They’re very gether a very strong openwell coached; they have lots ing drive against William of good players. We’re very & Mary, but failed to do inexperienced. I got tons of that for the rest of the first concerns. We’ll watch the half. In fact, WVU only had tape and try to get better at a single yard of total ofa few of them.” fense in the second quarAnd this concern strikes ter. The Tribe controlled all from the West Virginia the pace due to some key

L

ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-005.indd 2

KEY OPPONENT Paul Millard Year: Junior Position: Quarterback Statistics: Millard went 19-of-25 for 237 yards and a touchdown against William and Mary.

playmakers and various schematic designs. While the cliché saying of “a win is a win” could take place in this case, WVU didn’t want to struggle against an FCS opponent in the home opener. Granted, the Tribe has beaten teams like Virginia in the past. WVU will need to come out firing against OU. Consistency will be the main theme in this game. The Mountaineers will have nothing to lose, to some extent, but they will need to play a much better game to get past a ranked opponent in OU. In terms of expectations, it’s all or nothing like every week. As we’ve all seen this past weekend, anything can happen in college football. Amit Batra is a print journalism senior at West Virginia and sports editor at The Daily Athenaeum

9/3/13 5:52 PM


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• Thursday, September 5, 2013

inside the huddle

column

Show your spirit and stripe the stadium T

Sports editor he Stripe the Stadium effort is back this year. After a successful campaign last season at the Notre Dame game, the Julia Nelson athletic departjulia.nelson@ou.edu ment is marketing the event for the Sooners’ contest against West Virginia on Saturday. Many were worried that the striped effect would not work in the stadium. It required too much coordination for too many people — it just wasn’t realistic. However, through social media and other efforts, the striped effect was realized and the atmosphere in the stadium was deafening. In part, it was probably because College Game Day was there and it was the first matchup between the Sooners and Fighting Irish in Norman since 1957. But regardless, striping the stadium added an element to the stadium that many had never witnessed. Saturday, the athletic department wants to create a similar atmosphere. West Virginia will roll into town. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said the team wants to make up for the 778 yards it gave up in Morgantown last year. Fans should want to do their part, too. The best way to help a team is by being a good fan — cheering, being loud, giving support. Striping the stadium falls into that area. Fans sitting in an even-numbered section should wear crimson, and fans sitting in an odd-numbered section should wear white. The entire student section should wear crimson. The team wants revenge on West Virginia. Fans are going to be at the game anyway, they might as well support their team as best they can. Creating a hostile environment for the opposing team is the best way to do that. The defense posted a shutout against ULM last week and wants to keep the momentum going. So help them out, be there, get loud and stripe the stadium.

photo provided by ou athletics communications

Julia Nelson, julia.nelson@ou.edu

photo provided by ou athletics communications

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9/3/13 5:53 PM


inside the huddle

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Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

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9/3/13 6:46 PM


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INSIDE THE HUDDLE

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

IN GOOD COMPANY

INSIDE THE HUDDLE EDITOR

Dillon Phillips

When it comes to quarterbacks, the Sooners have a storied history, and Knight’s Stoops-era predecessors have set the bar obscenely high for freshman signalcallers.

dillon.phillips@ou.edu

I

COMP. • Beat out freshman quarterback Keith Nicol and junior quarterback Joey Halzle for the starting spot • Led OU to an 11-2 regular season record, a Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth

2009 Landry Jones (R-Fr.) • Temporarily took over when Bradford injured his shoulder against BYU and became the starter for good after Bradford went down against Texas • Led OU to an 8-5 record, including a 31-27 Sun Bowl win against Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck and Stanford ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-008,009.indd All Pages

9

Knight stands on the shoulders of giants

COVER STORY

2007 Sam Bradford (R-Fr.)

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

ATT.

YARDS

TD-INT

237

341

3,121

36-8

261

449

3,198

26-14

t’s a bit ridiculous how good OU has been at quarterback for the last five years. Seriously. Between the two of them, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones hold every single passing record in OU history. Yards, completions, attempts, touchdowns, completion percentage, passing efficiency, wins — they own it all. Every. Single. Record. It’s even more impressive when you consider the credentials of Stoops’ quarterbacks prior to Jones and Bradford. From 1999 to 2006, OU quarterbacks won five Big 12 titles, won a pair BCS bowl games, captured a national championship, claimed a Heisman Trophy and missed winning another Heisman by 76 votes, the slimmest margin ever at the time. When you factor in Jones’s and Bradford’s accomplishments, those numbers inflate to eight Big 12 crowns, three BCS bowl wins and two Heisman trophies. Not too shabby for a program that’s known historically as a running back’s school. So whenever Knight is mentioned in the same vein as the likes of Josh Heupel, Jason White, Bradford and

“He is a great leader ... he’s a great teammate. He’s a bright kid, so he’s got respect. No question.” BOB STOOPS, OU COACH

Jones, it’s a bit of an understatement to say the kid from San Antonio has some big shoes to fill. Not every quarterback can pull a Sammy B and go 21-of-23 for 363 yards and three touchdowns in his debut. Not every quarterback can pull a Landry, either, and throw a school-record six touchdown passes in just his second start. So Knight shouldn’t be judged to those standards. At least not just yet. To his credit, when measuring Knight’s first start against other redshirt-freshmen quarterbacks, he held his own despite what many considered a subpar performance in which he fell victim to butterflies and happy feet. “He really didn’t put that many balls in bad spots,” senior center Gabe Ikard said. “He didn’t throw it at a high percentage like we expect from him or like we’ve seen from him, but that will improve as he gets more comfortable.” Senior receiver Jalen Saunders also had his young QB’s back. “It’s his first ever college football game, so it’s expected,” Saunders said. “I felt like he did a great job, better than I expected.” Knight finished the game

EVIN MORRISON/THE DAILY

OU redshirt-freshman quarterback Trevor Knight rolls out of the pocket during the Sooners’ 34-0 victory against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday at Oklahoma-Memorial Stadium. In his first start at OU, Knight went 11-for-28 for 86 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

Sooners’ in the first 100yard rushing performance by a quarterback since Jason White did it against Yards rushing Yards passing Kansas in 2001. “I’m sure he will settle down and get smoother Yards per carry Touchdowns with some of his throws,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “We see him make Source: SoonerSports.com these throws over and over daily. Some of the ones he missed, we know he is cathat go with that.” with 86 yards passing and pable of making. We expect But it’s not like OU’s three touchdowns, comhim to continue to improve offense struggled. The pleting 11 of 28 passes. in that part.” “You want to see a better Sooners racked up 34 People seem to forget points and 429 yards of stat line,” co-offensive coSaturday was Knight’s first ordinator Josh Heupel said. total offense under Knight’s game of live football in two direction. He even rushed “You want to complete years. He spent all of last more than we did, obvious- for 103 of OU’s 305 yards season on scout team in a ly, and there’s a lot of things on the ground, leading the blue target jersey.

BY THE NUMBERS Knight against ULM

103

86

7.3

3

“It was really exciting to get out there,” Knight said. “The last game I got hit in was during high school, so it’s been a long time. To get out there and get hit around a little bit felt good.” While Knight may not be able to stack up against past Sooner greats — at least not at this point in his career — that’s not necessarily any fault of his own. He’s in pretty good company. Dillon Phillips is a professional writing senior and Inside the Huddle editor at The Daily

9/3/13 6:48 PM


10

INSIDE THE HUDDLE

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

INJURY UPDATE

Thompson recovering from fractured foot “Kendal is in Injured QB looks to compete upon great shape. He’s progressing really his return well. He hasn’t had ZACH SEPANIK any setbacks ... Sports Reporter After a season-opening We’re really excited about Kendal’s 34-0 win over the University of Louisiana-Monroe, sevprogress and how eral areas in question surrounding the OU football he has come along.” team were answered in a big way. Starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, was a little shaky throwing the ball, completing only 11 of 28 passes. However, Knight was a force on the ground, as he led OU’s rushing attack with 103 yards. Junior quarterback Blake Bell even saw some action for the majority of the fourth quarter. As the game went on, the offense flashed signs of fluidity, while the defense looked stellar right from the get-go. “It feels great; it’s a confidence booster,” senior cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “But at the same time, one win or one loss doesn’t define you as a team or a defense. We are encouraged by the win but we have to continue moving forward.” With a lot of speculation laid to rest following the win, there still remains a few shadows of doubt, primarily that which deals with sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson. Thompson suffered a fractured right foot on the ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-010.indd 2

BOB STOOPS, OU COACH

first day of practice in early August. Throughout the offseason, he was involved in a three-way quarterback battle with Knight and Bell, but it was short lived. “He was in the mix [for the starting quarterback job],” redshirt senior center Gabe Ikard said. “It’s really unfortunate that he got hurt, but he should be back here pretty soon. I have no idea how that will be handled.” Shortly after the injury, Thompson underwent a surgical procedure to repair the fracture. It sidelined him for the rest of the preseason and will continue to keep him in street clothes for the foreseeable future, as there is no timetable for his return. “Kendal is in great shape. He’s progressing really well,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “He hasn’t had any setbacks. That’s positive. We really were excited about Kendal’s progress and how he has come along.” During OU’s spring game

PLAYER PROFILE

Kendal Thompson Year: Sophomore Position: Quarterback Statistics: Thompson went 11-for-17 for 1515 yards and a touchdown during OU’s Red-White spring game.

in April, Thompson had a strong performance, completing 11 of 17 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. “The kid can play,” Ikard said. “He’s got a lot of talent — very similar skills to Trevor and Blake when it comes to running the ball and throwing the ball.” If he can resemble similar play once he returns, Thompson just might show the coaching staff he deserves to be back in the mix for the starting quarterback role. “He’ll have to demonstrate in practice first how well he’s healed and then w e’ll s ee,” Stoops said. “We’ll see how many opportunities he can get, but like I said, we’re really excited about Kendal so we’ll just see where it goes.” Zach Sepanik zachary.j.sepanik-1@ou.edu

Western History Collections (3rd floor, Monnet Hall)

August & September

Souvenirs of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Advertising in the West B.M. Bower: Female Pioneer of Western Fiction Good Miles of Hospitality: Traveling America with the Fred Harvey Company

October - December

From the Pueblos to the Northern Plains: American Indian Art

History of Science Collections (5th Floor, Bizzell)

On Exhibit September 2013: Crossing Cultures October 2013 - Feburary 2014: Tracings of Science: Stonehenge to Galileo

9/3/13 5:56 PM


inside the huddle

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

11

column

Knight’s legs lend themselves to Sooners’ new-look offense sports columnist

Sam Hoffman samhoffman@ou.edu

T

he 2013 Sooners looked like a different team in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Get used to it. The most important reason OU looked different was because of redshirt-freshman quarterback Trevor Knight. Knight, unlike Landry Jones, uses his feet to hurt defenses. I know: it’s only the first game, but don’t expect the style of offense to change against upcoming opponents this season. Knight was a sight for sore eyes because of his ability to scramble. Knight led the Sooners with 103 yards rushing on 13 attempts, the first time an OU quarterback has rushed for over 100 yards since Jason White did it in 2001 against Kansas. Overall, it was not just Knight that was different on offense; it was the entire running game. As a team, the Sooners had 305 yards on the ground compared to a year ago when their average was 160 yards per game. Senior running backs Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch chipped in with 66, 43 and 42 yards, respectively. ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-011.indd 2

BY THE NUMBERS OU’s rush offense

305

The Sooners ran for 305 yards against LouisianaMonroe.

7.9

13

6.1

Trevor Knight carried the ball 13 times in his first start.

9

Nine different Sooners carried the ball against ULM.

Knight averaged a team-high of nearly eight yards per carry.

As a team, the Sooners averaged 6.1 yards per carry, almost two yards higher than their average last season. Source: SoonerSports.com

Expect the same kind of production on Saturday against West Virginia. The Mountaineers struggled to find their way against FCS opponent William and Mary. William and Mary posted 172 yards rushing against West Virginia. OU will exploit West Virginia’s run defense just as it exploited the Warhawk’s defense. If OU can continue to control the time of possession as it did last Saturday, it will not make a difference if Knight throws at all. The Sooners will give the Mountaineers a heavy dose of the ground game early in the matchup, and if West Virginia cannot stop the onslaught then expect another easy win. The initial success of the Sooners’ running game will help Knight grow as a passer as well. The more success OU has running the ball means the more pressure that will be taken off of Knight on crucial third down plays. Another critical change

that will take place early this season will be the runto-pass ratio. OU ran the ball 50 times against ULM and threw the ball 33 times. So instead of a pass-first mentality, look for the patented bubble screen OU loved to run on first-and-10 turn into a handoff to the running back between the tackles. The depth the Sooners have at the running back position gives them more reason to be a run-first team this season. Williams will get the majority of carries, but Clay is a great third-down back that the coaching staff seems to trust in important situations. The passing days for the Sooners may not be over yet, but as of now, the Sooners will be a different teams compared to years past. Sam Hoffman is a journalism junior and sports columnist for The Daily

Celebrating 100 Years of Excellence in Journalism Education Founded in 1913, the journalism program at the University of Oklahoma grew from a few courses taught under the auspices of the English department to become the multi-faceted, state-of-the-art Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Today more than 1,200 students study advertising, broadcasting and electronic media, journalism, public relations and professional writing. Gaylord College students are active in more than two-dozen student clubs and hands-on practicums specific to journalism and mass communication. The college has 37 award-winning faculty who have received numerous awards from research to professional including the Pulitzer Prize and multiple national Emmy Awards for news, bringing decades of experience in academia and in the professions to the classroom. The Gaylord College also boasts more than 10,000 alumni who are leaders in their organizations and at all levels of media and strategic communication.

Welcome Journalism Alumni to the Centennial Celebration Sept. 5-7

1913-2013 www.ou.edu/gaylord d / l d 9/3/13 5:56 PM


12

inside the huddle

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

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inside the huddle

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

13

feature

Fresh faces reinvigorate OU’s defenisve line Despite youth, the Sooners d-line looks better in ’13 Joe Mussatto

Assistant Sports Editor

The bigg est question heading into this season for the Oklahoma defense: How would a young and inexperienced defensive line play? Last Saturday, there was no question about it. “The guys in the front line, I thought Jordan Phillips, Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom were very disruptive in everything that they did,” coach Bob Stoops said at Monday’s press conference. In the Sooners new-look 3-3-5 defense, the coach named all three starters up front as key playmakers of the game. Sophomores Phillips and Tapper and Grissom — a junior — anchored the defensive line against Louisiana Monroe. “It allows for more speed on the field,” Stoops said in regards to the three-man front. “It fits their personnel.” Whereas OU struggled to pressure quarterbacks a year ago, even out of the threeman set, the defensive line was able to hurry quarterback Kolton Browning into a number of mistakes last Saturday. The most noticeable difference between this defensive front : speed. The Sooners are fast and physical — a good recipe for a good defensive line. And their teammates have noticed the change as well. “For the first week, they were coming out there firing off the ball. It was good to see that because you know ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-013.indd 2

Evin morrisoN/the daily

OU’s defensive line — from left to right: junior defensive end Geneo Grissom (85), sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper (91) and sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (80) — swarms Louisiana-Monroe senior quarterback Kolton Browning during the Sooners’ 34-0 blanking of the Warhawks on Saturday at Oklahoma-Memorial Stadium in Norman.

they’re all young, it was exciting,” senior safety Gabe Lynn said of the defensive line. “They were being physical. There was one thing I wanted my d-line to go into this game thinking: they had to be physical,” senior linebacker and defensive captain Corey Nelson said. “We had to win at the line of scrimmage, and that was one thing I did see. They were being physical and flying to the ball as well.” Much of the credit is because of new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. In his first year at Oklahoma, Montgomery has instilled a more physical style of play at the position. As defensive

“I wanted the d-line to go into this game thinking they had to be physical.” corey nelson, ou senior linebacker

coordinator Mike Stoops said, the Sooners no longer react, they attack. The most impressive performance on the line in week one belonged to Tapper. The Baltimore native didn’t start playing football until late in his high school career, and it’s fair to say the defensive end is making up for lost time. “Charles is a really good

player,” Bob Stoops said. “He’s along the lines of some of the guys we’ve had here and hopefully he’ll keep playing that way.” Stoops has coached a handful of spectacular ends, and for as young as Tapper is, the compliment is amplified. In addition to the three starters, junior Quinc y Russell saw playing time in the interior. The junior college transfer was a highly anticipated recruit for an Oklahoma defense short on lineman. However, Russell was a late arrival for the Sooners, having just showed up i n No r ma n l e ss t ha n a month ago. The defensive

tackle saw limited time last Saturday, but figures to step into the rotation moving forward. “Every day is a new day for him right now,” Mike Stoops said of Russell. “But he’s starting to comprehend things and he’s starting to put things together. He’ll just get better each day.” And for a defensive line that already exceeded expectations in the first game, more good news for the position comes this week against West Virginia. Junior defensive tackles Chuka Ndulue and Torrea Peterson didn’t play in week one, but both will be available on Saturday for the Sooners, and both figure to

make an impact. “We should make a lot more plays with Chuka coming back and Torrea,” Tapper said after shutting out the Warhawks. Maybe stymieing Louisiana-Monroe to just 38 yards on the ground wasn’t enough. The revamped line has set its expectations high, but after what they showed to be capable of last week, why not? Just how dominant can they be? That’s the new question. Joe Mussatto jmussatto@ou.edu 9/3/13 5:59 PM


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• Thursday, September 5, 2013

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ap college football

Big 12 struggles on opening weekend STEPHEN HAWKINS

East) and Sun Belt. The Sun Belt losers were South The Big 12 is 0-2 against Alabama, in its first season as the Missouri Valley a full-fledged FBS team, and Conference, and it took a Georgia State, a team still late touchdown by West making that transition. Virginia to avoid another Not exactly the compaopening-weekend loss to an ny the Big 12 wants to be FCS team. in when the goal is break “That’s the story of the the SEC’s string of seven opening week of the season, consecutive national is who gets beat by somechampionships. body they shouldn’t,” Texas “It’s all about the final coach Mack Brown said product and how we finish Monday. “There’s always a the year, not how we start couple, and this year there the year,” Holgorsen said. “ were a lot more than that.” There’s going to be a lot of Nationwide, there were positive things happen in eight FCS teams that beat the Big 12, there’s going to FBS opponents. That was be a lot of great games to be twice as many such upsets as played, and at the end of the the opening week of 2012. year, we’ll see how we stack But that’s not supposed to up.” happen to a league like the Big 12 teams have three Big 12, which going into this more games against FCS season was 103-3 against teams this week, includnon-FBS teams. The coning Kansas playing South ference in its 18th season al- Dakota in its season opener. most matched that loss total Texas Tech plays coach Kliff in one weekend. Kingsbury’s home debut “It will grab your attenagainst Stephen F. Austin, tion. Luckily, we were able and TCU hosts Southeastern to get tested and be able Louisiana. to overcome that,” said West Virginia goes to West Virginia coach Dana Oklahoma for the first game Holgorsen, whose team esthis season that counts in caped with a 24-17 win over the Big 12 standings. The William & Mary. “At the end Sooners and Texas don’t play of the year, it really doesn’t any FCS opponents this year. matter what the score was. “There’s always talk in It’s about getting the wins.” the first week or the second Defending co-Big 12 week about who’s the best champion Kansas State conference,” Brown said. “’I failed to do that against two- think you need to look at the time defending FCS champi- end of the season at the body on North Dakota State, then of work.” Iowa State lost to Northern Kansas had an early pracIowa. (Baylor beat Wofford tice Saturday before coach 69-3 in its FCS matchup). Charlie Weis spent the rest The only other FBS of the day watching games, leagues with two losses even paying $10 to watch the to lower-tier teams were online broadcast of South the American Athletic Dakota’s win over UC Davis. Conference (former Big The Jayhawks also had a AP Sports Writer

ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-014.indd 2

chris neal/the associated press

North Dakota State’s quarterback Brock Jensen lets out a scream as his teammates rejoice with him after scoring with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter, putting the Bison ahead 23-21, during an NCAA college football game in Manhattan, Kan., Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. North Dakota State upset Kansas State 24-21.

team meeting Sunday. The first words from Weis to his players were the same both days after all the FCS upsets. “It was a great teaching tool,” Weis said during the Big 12 coaches’ weekly conference call. “The first words being uttered, did you pay attention, did you see what just happened. This isn’t any big surprise here fellas. This is what can happen. I think that game (Kansas State) glaringly got our

players’ attention.” Every loss by Big 12 teams last season was against an opponent that went to a bowl game. The league was 8-0 against FCS teams, winning those games by an average margin of 44 points. (That was still 38 if not counting Oklahoma State’s 84-0 win over Savannah State). Kansas State, after losing its first opener since coach Bill Snyder’s debut with

the Wildcats in 1989, plays Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. Asked how he was doing, Snyder responded, “Well, I’ve had better days.” Still, Snyder said the message to his team is unchanged in that the goal is to get better every day. “We’ve got a lot of improvement to make,” he said. “I think that’s pretty obvious.” Iowa State has to wait an

extra week before another game, with an open date before playing in-state rival Iowa on Sept. 14. “We were distraught, I’ll put it that way,” Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads said, describing his team’s mode after the loss. Oh, and guess which FCS team is on Iowa State’s schedule next season. North Dakota State.

9/3/13 6:00 PM


inside the huddle

Thursday, September 5, 2013 •

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Walsh, not Chelf, will start for Pokes Sophomore beats out incumbent QB STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — J.W. Walsh was picked to start at quarterback for Oklahoma State on Saturday against Texas-San Antonio. Clint Chelf started the Cowboys’ opener against Mississippi State, but as expected Walsh also played in the 21-3 victory. Coach Mike Gundy named Walsh the No. 1 quarterback on Monday. “I think he just brought a spark to our team,” Gundy said. “I felt like there was a lift when he came in, for whatever reason.” The s ophomore from Denton, Texas, was 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards, and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. “When we started clicking with all the zone read stuff and the up-tempo stuff, that’s what we stuck with,” said Walsh, whose previous best rushing performance was 73 yards. “A lot of it was just designs on read plays that we had just put in, that we had worked on all offseason, and for the first time to

ITH-oud-2013-9-5-a-015.indd 2

richard carson/the associated press

Oklahoma State sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh points to the stands after scoring a touchdown against Mississippi State during the first half of the Cowboys’, 21-3, win on Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for 125 more.

run it and be that successful with it, that was good to see.” Gundy said he is unlikely to take Walsh out at all now. “We started to see results from what J.W. was giving us,” Gundy said. “And at that point when you’re playing a team that has the capability of beating us, we need to stay with what we thought

gave us the best chance to win the game. J.W. is our quarterback now. Clint could play. I’m not sure we have a time frame for that, I’m not sure we ever will. We’re comfortable with the way that J.W. played and we think that he gives us the best opportunity for success.” As well as Walsh was

running the offense, the team’s leading receiver, Josh Stewart, gained just 39 yards on four receptions. OSU’s only completed pass over 20 yards was Walsh’s throw to Stewart for 21 late in the first half. “In most cases, on defense, safeties have to help on quarterback run and if safeties help in quarterback

run, it gives you a chance to throw it downfield,” Gundy said. “There’s a number of areas as an offense that we need to improve on, and that’s one of them.” Walsh said knowing he’s going to be the starter all week will not alter his mental approach as he gets ready to face UTSA, which won at New Mexico 21-13 in

its opener Saturday. “There’s not going to be much of a change, because any time I’m preparing for a game, you have to prepare like you’re the starter,” said Walsh, who is currently the Big 12’s leading rusher. “No matter where you are on the depth chart, you have to prepare like you’re one play away and that you could be in the game at any moment, so that when you do get your opportunities, you can go in and play.” As a quarterback with the ball in his hands a lot, Walsh has had to adjust his mindset when he runs to preserve his health. “For a long time, I’ve had family members and friends tell me, ‘When you run the ball, get out of bounds, get down,’ but I kind of just ignored it for the most part, because that’s just how I ran the ball,” said Walsh, who scored seven rushing touchdowns while earning Big 12 Freshman of the year honors last year. “But now, especially after getting hurt last year, I realize I have to play much smarter and take care of my body when I’m running the football.”

9/3/13 6:00 PM


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Inside the huddle

• Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Daily’s Sports Desk 2013 Pick ’em Challenge

WEEK TWO

sports editor

assistant sports editor

volleyball beat writer

sports columnist

inside the huddle editor

Julia Nelson

Joe Mussatto

Demetrius Kearney

Joey Stipek

Dillon Phillips

julia.nelson@ou.edu

jmussatto@ou.edu

Demetrius.V.Kearney-1@ou.edu

joey.stipek@ou.edu

dillon.phillips@ou.edu

3-2

4-1

5-0

4-1

5-0

No. 12 Florida at Miami (Fla.)

Florida

Florida

Miami

Florida

Florida

No. 6 South Carolina at No. 11 Georgia

Georgia

Georgia

South Carolina

South Carolina

Georgia

No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan

Notre Dame

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan

Texas

Texas

Texas

Texas

Texas

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

SEASON RECORD

No. 15 Texas at Brigham Young West Virginia at No. 16 Oklahoma

At Campus Lodge!

We’re Giving away Coasters & Coozies!

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9/3/13 6:01 PM

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