FOOTBALL IS HERE.
The off-season officially ends tomorrow as #7 Oklahoma kicks-off their 2018 season in Norman against the Florida Atlantic Owls. The match-up boasts two of last season’s top offenses, but both programs will be replacing key pieces at quarterback. The Sooners are considered a 21-point favorite heading into the match-up with kick-off slated for 11 a.m.
Yesterday, we detailed some things we’re going to be wanting to see from this Oklahoma team. Today, we’re detail what you need to know going into this match-up. Let’s get started.
FAU: Florida Atlantic may not be a P5 program, but they are not without their stars. Running back, Devin Singletary is coming of a 1918 yard rushing season. At 5-9, 200 lbs, Singletary will be a handful as he can either run it between the tackles or can bounce it outside. Defensively, the Owls will be lead by speedy linebacker, Azeez Al-Shaair. Al-Shaair recorded a staggering 146 tackles last season and will look to get in Oklahoma’s backfield early and often.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma returns some key pieces from last year’s squad, the biggest is Heisman-hopeful, Rodney Anderson. As you know, Anderson was arguably the best back in nation during the latter half of the season. He’s running behind a re-shuffled line but with familiar names. Defensively, this game is tailor-made for Neville Gallimore. Oklahoma big DT has struggled with consistency, but with FAU replacing the entirety of their interior line, Gallimore should be able to find success.
FACTS & STATS:
- Last season, Oklahoma struggled getting off the field on 3rd down. In fact, on 3rd & 7 or longer, the Sooners gave up an average of 7.17 yards per carry. On the other hand, FAU averaged 10.87 yard per carry on 3rd & 7 or longer. This is something to watch.
- Oklahoma had one of the best rushing attacks last season and averaged 6.17 yards per carry against unranked opponents. FAU gave up 6.61 yards per carry to ranked opponents. Ground game favors the Sooners.
- Oklahoma’s defensive talent level has jumped. Last season, the average of last year’s defense was .895 (or what should be considered a high 3-star average). This season, .917 (or what should be considered firmly in the 4-star range).
- Statistically, FAU played their worst pass defense during the 1st and 2nd quarters. Oklahoma passing game excelled in the 1st and 3rd quarters.
- Oklahoma’s YPC were at their lowest during the month September. That was without Rodney Anderson. FAU gave up 4.69 ypc in the month of September last season. Their second worst month.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
- Oklahoma is replacing both of it’s safeties from last season. It’s a sure bet that Lane Kiffin will look to exploit a young secondary.
- Oklahoma is without Baker Mayfield but has Kyler Murray. This means that offense will change somewhat. This also means no one has seen it, thus can’t properly prepare for it.
- FAU will also be showing off some new schemes, this could lead some early success until Oklahoma adjusts.
- Oklahoma is moving to the Nickel. With one more DB on the field, Oklahoma should improve against the pass.
- Caleb Kelly hasn’t nailed down the WILL backer position — the position that had the most tackles on the team last season. That is a mild concern but if the defensive line show improvement, the responsibilities should be mitigated.
- FAU did a good job protecting the ball on the ground, but not as well through the air. A new quarterback won’t help that at all. Oklahoma’s secondary should have some opportunities.
The biggest advantage you could have in any game is in the trenches. Oklahoma has the Owls beat on both sides. That alone should take FAU out of the second half of the game. Given that Kyler Murray has more than enough talent around him to find success. I know on the podcast I said this is a 17-point win, however I’m going to take the over and go with 24-points. Oklahoma 52, Florida Atlantic 28.
The Owls are going to spread everything out on offense. They will challenge the Sooners’ defense in a variety of ways and that’s definitely a key point in this game– can Oklahoma get off the field on 3rd down? Also, FAU returns 10 players on defense; Will FAU be able key in on stopping Oklahoma’s running attack? I think this game is going to make Oklahoma fans feel uncomfortable for a bit, but that the Sooners catch a few breaks by being superior in the trenches. Oklahoma 41, FAU 31.