Image via HolaKyle (YouTube)
Ok, back with another breakdown with Oklahoma taking on Kansas State tomorrow in Manhattan. The Sooners (5-1) are coming off a gritty win in the Cotton Bowl while the Wildcats are coming off a loss against TCU. The biggest headline coming into this game? The weather. Checking the forecast as of 30 minutes ago, there is still anywhere between an 80% and 85% chance of rain and storms at kickoff. This means there is a good chance the Sooners will be playing at least part of the game in the rain — assuming it isn’t delayed.
RB, Abdul Adams (foot/ankle) – Questionable
DT, Matt Romar (undisclosed) – Questionable
WR, Jeff Badet (leg) – Questionable
WR, CeeDee Lamb (shoulder) – Probable
QB, Jesse Ertz (knee) – Questionable
Kickoff is slated for 3:00 pm, CST with a chance of a delay due to weather. The game will be broadcast on FOX (could change pending delays).
What Oklahoma Does Well:
Control The Line: This will likely be a reoccurring point week-to-week and rightfully so. After a mediocre showing against Iowa State, Oklahoma’s offensive line looked the part of one the nation’s best against Texas. With Cody Ford back and Ben Powers moved to right guard, the Sooners consistently had the upper-hand against the Texas front-7.
On the flip-side, Oklahoma’s defensive line played their best game of the seasons so far in Dallas. Despite some egregious holds, the Sooners were able to get into the backfield quite a bit and disrupting both the Longhorns’ passing and rushing game. In fact, something that was a bit overlooked, if you take away Ehlinger’s scrambles, Texas only rushed for 36 yards on the day.
Run The Ball: Even without Abdul Adams, the Sooners continue to be one of the best rushing offenses in the nation (35th) and they showed it last weekend. Against a rather stout Texas defense and without Abdul Adams, Oklahoma again found a one-two punch on the ground, this time from Rodney Anderson. Sermon and Anderson combined for 144 yards on 30 carries against a top-25 run defense. It will be all hands on deck again this week as K-State ranks 34th against the run. The rain will play a factor here and if I had to guess, Trey Sermon may be called upon quite a bit tomorrow. Which leads me to my next point.
Dominate Offense: I mentioned in last week’s post that the playbook hasn’t been completely opened. That was proved on a few plays last week, specifically the Trey Sermon half-back pass. Lincoln Riley has a knack for creating wrinkles in his offense that still catch opposing defenses off-guard even midway through the season. This time around, no wrinkles. Here’s why.
Looking at Oklahoma’s past two games in inclement, the Sooners have opted to go with the run 77% of the time and why not? The Sooners have proved they can run a gritty, physical offense that attacks between the tackles. This is where Trey Sermon comes in. In both those games (WVU & OSU) Samaje Perine, the most physical runner, was the feature offensive player. If the saying history repeats itself is true, expect Sermon to take over this role and grind away at the Wildcats with 25+ carries.
What Oklahoma Doesn’t Do Well:
Force Turnovers: A reoccurring theme on defense is their inability to force turnovers. Sooners still rank 114th in turnovers gained this season. In a game that is looks like it will feature the run, that stat should make some Oklahoma fans nervous, especially given this next point.
Stop Teams On Third Down: Oklahoma can’t get consistent stops on third down. So far this season the Sooners have allowed opponents to convert on third-down 40% of the time (ranked 83rd in the country). There are a few reasons for this: missed tackles, yards after contact, bad coverage, bad schemes. However one such stat did stand out…
Play Clean Football: The Sooners have already racked up 368 yards in penalties this season. Hard to stop drives when a majority of those calls are on the defense, particularly a few on third downs. Now some of that is youth, some of that is emotion, and to be fair some are questionable calls. That said, Oklahoma has got to start playing smarter in order to start playing better and more consistent defense.
What K-State Does Well:
Run The Ball: Kansas State is a run-first team (has run 62.4% of the time), averaging 4.9 yards per carry so far this season. Part of the reason is the running ability of QB, Jesse Ertz who double as their leading rusher with 65 carries for 336 yards and 3 TD’s. His availability is questionable for tomorrow due a knee sprain suffered last week. Should he be ruled out, backup Alex Delton is another proven dual-threat QB that has seen moderate time this season. Delton is the third leading rusher on the team with 34 carries for 141 yards and pair of touchdowns.
Limit Turnovers: This may end being a very important stat depending on how the weather turns out. Kansas State is currently tied for 9th in the nation when it comes to turnovers lost. In what looks like a game that is going to be played at least partly in the rain (delays possible), turnovers could be a deciding factor.
Flip Field Position: Something that isn’t talked about that much is Kansas State’s special teams play, specifically their ability to flip the field on punt returns. The Wildcats, DJ Reid has recorded 114 yards and a touchdown this season returning punts. That currently ranks Kansas State at 19th in the nation (avg. 13.15 yard per return). That said, weather will again play a big role here.
What K-State Doesn’t Do Well:
Defend The Pass: This is one of the more glaring issues with this Kansas State team — pass coverage. The Wildcats are currently giving up an average of 236.2 passing yards a game which ranks 87th in the nation. To their credit, Kansas State has played TCU, Texas, and Baylor, all of which have top-50 passing offenses (Baylor, really?). However none stack up statistically to what Oklahoma has been able to do through the air, which is why the bad weather favors Kansas State more so than Oklahoma.
Pass With Consistency: Make no mistake, Kansas State values the run game much more than passing game and here is why. So far this season, the Wildcats have a combined completion percentage of 50%. That ranks them at 119th out of 129 in the nation in completion percentage. Rain or no rain, Kansas State isn’t going to pass with much volume tomorrow, meaning the rain doesn’t impact their game plan. Now, there is a silver-lining here. Kansas State currently averages 16.19 yards per completion and they have an underrated core of wide receivers in sophomores Dalton Schoen (quietly really good), Byron Pringle and Isaiah Zuber. However reaching them with any consistency has been an issue and will be more so if Jesse Ertz is ruled out.
Control The Clock: This is one is simple, Kansas State hasn’t been good with time of possession this season, which you may find interesting since they’re a run-first offense that doesn’t turnover the ball. The more you run, the more clock you chew up.
So what’s the issue?
Like Oklahoma, Kansas State just isn’t good on third downs allowing opponents to convert — wait for it — 41% of the time. Couple that with an offense that is converting on 29.6% of third downs and you can see why Oklahoma should be heavily favored tomorrow.
Alright, prediction time.
Checking the forecast one more time and it looks like the rain chances haven’t budged but as some of you pointed on Twitter, that could change. However, going to assume there is at least some rain tomorrow with this prediction.
Oklahoma’s passing game should be hindered somewhat by both falling rain and field conditions (turf field I believe but should still be slick). That is the good news for Kansas State. I still expect the Sooners to take their shots through the air until proven otherwise, but they too will lean on a heavy ground game behind a dominate offensive line. Kansas State’s third-down woes on both sides of the ball will make it difficult to stay in this game.
Oklahoma wins 38-21.