September 28, 2022

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Know Your Opponent: Oklahoma Sooners

Ok-State misplaced 37-31 in opposition to Oklahoma on Oct. 2, 2021. (Archive picture by Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

Many anticipated Kansas State to enter this pivotal recreation with a 3-0 report, however the Wildcats discover themselves attempting to bounce again from a disappointing upset. Ok-State suffered a surprising 17-10 loss at house in opposition to the Tulane Inexperienced Wave after being favored by many sportsbooks.

The Wildcats have failed to seek out an offensive rhythm within the passing recreation this season.  Quarterback Adrian Martinez has seen criticism over his conservative playstyle, which hasn’t matched the remainder of the workforce’s strategy. Twice previously three years, former Ok-State quarterback Skylar Thompson had spectacular outings in upsets in opposition to the Oklahoma Sooners. Martinez can have an opportunity to regain everybody’s confidence in him if he follows in his predecessor’s footsteps.

Earlier than shedding to the Inexperienced Wave, the Wildcats had been practically voted into the AP High 25, however are actually seen as much less of a menace to top-tier groups. Ok-State has been named the underdog by round two scores in opposition to the Sooners. A powerful efficiency may change that, although one other disappointing displaying would make them once more gaining much less AP votes than reborn in-state rival Kansas.

Ok-State Offense vs Oklahoma Protection

Offensively, Ok-State has been disappointing. The identical couldn’t be mentioned concerning the new Oklahoma protection, which was as soon as often called the weak spot of the workforce. The departure of offensive-minded head coach Lincoln Riley and the arrival of recent defensive-minded head coach Brent Venables could have modified issues.

In three video games, the Sooners have solely allowed 40 factors this season. That features giving up solely 14 factors to the Nebraska Cornhuskers who averaged 36 factors per recreation earlier than going through Oklahoma. Their skill to win the battle on the line of scrimmage leads their newfound defensive id, amassing 13 whole sacks and 32 tackles for loss. 

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Impacting the sport up-front, the Sooners entrance finish has an opportunity to reap the benefits of the Wildcat offensive line. The mangled offensive line can have their arms full, particularly in opposition to Oklahoma sack chief and defensive finish, Reggie Grimes, and the remainder of their rushers. Left deal with KT Leveston, who had a noticeable limp which compelled him to overlook a number of performs in opposition to Tulane, was seen going out and in of the sport final week. Due to this fact, attainable issues at left deal with will be added to the unit’s points. The workforce has already misplaced beginning guard Taylor Poitier for the season resulting from a knee damage. Inside linemen Cooper Bebe and Hayden Gillum can be pivotal in demonstrating power within the trenches.

The battle outdoors may very well be what helps spring unfastened the struggling Ok-State offense. Head coach Chris Klieman mentioned he hopes to get the ball to huge receivers Malik Knowles, Phillip Brooks and Kade Warner extra usually after the Tulane loss. The Sooners defensive backfield could present Klieman with that probability. Whereas defensive backs Justin Harrington, Key Lawrence and Gentry Williams have all caught an interception this season, not one of the three have a excessive quantity of enjoying expertise. Knowles, Brooks and Warner are all enjoying of their fourth or fifth season, giving the sting to Ok-State in expertise on the perimeter.

The success of the Wildcat offense comes down to 2 components: First, will operating again Deuce Vaughn have one in all his basic video games the place he offers the protection a headache for 3 straight hours, and second, will Martinez stray away from conservative play and take the dangers essential to upset the No. 6 workforce within the nation?

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Ok-State Protection vs Oklahoma Offense

The protection have left little question of their prowess this season. Star defensive finish Felix Anudike-Uzomah has led the cross rush and run protection to date. The workforce has totaled seven sacks and 24 tackles for loss in three video games. The line of defense has constantly given opposing offensive traces hassle and will proceed to take action in opposition to the Sooners line. Bodily play up-front has been a power, however so has the play from their teammates behind them.

Evenly matching the seven sacks, the protection moreover collected seven interceptions within the season. Security Cincere Mason and linebacker Daniel Inexperienced lead the workforce in interceptions with two every. The development of gamers stepping up might want to proceed in going through one of the best offense Ok-State has performed this season.

Even after shedding Riley and former quarterback Caleb Williams to Southern California (USC), the offense has not appeared to say no to date. Changing Williams is Central Florida (UCF) switch Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel appears to be persevering with the custom of nice quarterback play at Oklahoma after his three seasons at UCF. He has thrown for 759 yards and 7 touchdowns, whereas additionally operating for 2 scores. His operating skill was highlighted by a 61-yard speeding landing in opposition to the Cornhuskers. Enjoying with excessive ranges of expertise and consistency this 12 months will present an identical end result on the sphere to Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt’s efficiency. Pratt made many well timed performs in opposition to the Wildcat protection when it counted essentially the most. Gabriel should make well timed performs when going through a protection as gifted as Ok-State.

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The Sooners’ offensive weapons can be a brand new problem for the protection. Main the ability place gamers is three-year huge receiver Marvin Mims. Mims has 310 receiving yards on the season and has gained over 600 yards in every of his first two seasons. Because the clear No. 1 receiver within the unit, he’ll present essentially the most hassle, with veterans Theo Wease and Drake Stoops backing him up.

On the operating again place comes Eric Grey, who initially performed at Tennessee. Grey transferred to Oklahoma final 12 months after not dwelling as much as his highschool hype in his time as a Volunteer. Grey has probably discovered his rhythm, operating for 7.7 yards per carry and 286 yards this season. He gives one other powerful check for the protection along with his play type on the operating again place.

This matchup offers the Wildcat protection their first alternative to show themselves as among the best defenses within the nation. 

Prediction

Rebuilding workforce momentum may very well be essential after coming off of the upset loss. This matchup appeared extra like a possible hard-nosed battle between two Large 12 contenders earlier than struggling their first lack of the season. The Sooners have an opportunity to reap the benefits of a obvious weak spot on the offensive aspect of the ball that may very well be holding Ok-State again from Large 12 title competition. The passing recreation woes have been the Achilles’ heel of the workforce and could also be in opposition to the Sooners as effectively. 

Oklahoma 31-16