Sooner D Looks to Anchor OU to 3-0
OU strong safety Jonathan Nelson
OU strong safety Jonathan Nelson
Contributing Writer
Posted Sep 17, 2010

Last weekend, the No. 7 Sooners made a statement with their big victory over Florida State, but that statement would be all for not if they do not follow it up with another win against the Air Force Falcons at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Norman.

But, beating Air Force and improving to 3-0 does not prove to be an easy task for OU.

The Falcons, too, enter the game undefeated after two games and are coming off a solid victory of their own against BYU. Also, Air Force brings in a disciplined team who can create multiple problems on offense and defense.

The biggest of those problems simply is the offense the Falcons run: the triple option. Hardly any other team in the nation runs it, which means the Sooners have to prepare for an offense many of the players and coaches have not seen in person in a while.

“It’s foreign to everyone on our defense,” defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said. “It’s not just the defensive ends, but there’s very few wishbone-type, because that’s what it is – I mean, you can call it the fly-bone or whatever they call it – but it’s wishbone principles. There’s very little of that going on in the country today; very few in high school, as well.

“Our guys are not in tune to it, necessarily, so our whole preparation has to be about our guys being very, very disciplined.”

Also, nobody else in the nation runs the ball with as much precision as Air Force. Through two games, its offense is averaging 423 rushing yards per game – 437 yards in the opener and 423 yards against BYU – which is the best rushing average in the nation by 91.5 yards per game.

“To rush the ball for 400 yards in football, I don’t care what you do that’s hard,” wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said.

So, what is the key to stopping the triple option? Simple, do not blow a single assignment, senior defensive back Jonathan Nelson said.

“If you slip up one time, then they’ll run those for 30 yards,” Nelson said. “One assignment that’s not properly executed by one guy out of the 11, then that can kill you. It’s not necessarily about them blowing people off the line, or this and that, it’s more so about getting a hat on a hat and they do that really well.”

The other problem Air Force brings to the field is its tough secondary. It picked off opposing quarterbacks 20 times in 2009 and has recorded two so far this season.

“The corners are all elite players,” quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel said. “They’re extremely physical, athletic and so it’ll be a good test on our guys on the perimeter blocking those guys while trying to get open in some of those zone and man coverages.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Landry Jones is coming off a solid game where he did not throw or come too close to throwing an interception, but his inconsistent play over his career leaves some room to question which Jones will show up Saturday. Will it be the one from a week ago, or will Jones revert back to the two-interception, sub-50 percent completion quarterback who showed up in the opener?

If Jones plays smart like he did against Florida State, then all signs point to a successful day for the Sooners’ offense.

“He did some things better, he made some smarter decisions and I think guys around him played at a higher level, too,” Heupel said.

The Sooners will come out of Saturday’s game with victory if they play disciplined defense and if the offense continues the momentum it built up a week ago. Air Force will be trying to make a statement of its own by beating two straight ranked opponents, but the Sooners will try to prevent any hopes of doing so.

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