Setting the stage: OU-West Virginia
OU's Brennan Clay and Trevor Knight
OU's Brennan Clay and Trevor Knight
Sooners Illustrated
Posted Sep 6, 2013


Will West Virginia duplicate its offensive success from last year? Will OU be able to run effectively for the second week in a row? Setting the stage for the Big 12 conference opener Saturday.

SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week breaking down Oklahoma’s game during the 2013 season.

West Virginia (1-0, 0-0) at OU (1-0, 0-0)

When: 6 p.m. CST Saturday

OU’s biggest question going into the game

Will the Sooners be able to sustain offensive success if the passing game doesn’t improve? There’s no question OU wants the passing game to pick up, but what if it doesn’t?

It looked like redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight settled down in the second half last week, but OU cannot afford to go through an adjustment period every single game.

Talking with OU players and coaches this week, they believe the first half was an anomaly and something OU fans should never see again from Knight.

“Trevor is a very capable thrower of the ball,” senior center Gabe Ikard said. “People are doubting him because he had an off night with some jitters, but he can really throw. We have seen it in practice. We are fully anticipating him to have a better night.”

Knight was able to avoid a lot of backlash because of how strong the rushing attack was last week, which included a lot from Knight, too. But it’s clear for the long term success, a near-balanced offense will be necessary.

West Virginia’s biggest question going into the game

It’s not unusual for a team to hold back a week before playing a more marquee opponent. OU gets accused of it nearly every year in preparing for Texas. Is that what the Mountaineers did last week against William & Mary? Or is it simply the face West Virginia doesn’t have the firepower of the last couple of seasons?

OU coaches seem pretty confidence it’s former and not the latter. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was already talking about how much more complex the Mountaineers will be compared to ULM minutes after the 34-0 shutout victory against the Warhawks.

His tune didn’t change earlier this week.

“They were very vanilla,” Stoops said. “They have a lot more offense than they showed in the game so it’s a tough preparation. They worked us pretty good a year ago.

“They throw a lot of good screens, and they’re going to try to attack some of our aggressive play, and that’s where we’re going to have to be smart and be able to counter it.”

Running back Charles Sims will give the Sooners a different dynamic than what they saw last week and will offer a good challenge.

Quotable

“I’ve been asked a lot if I’m excited about playing Oklahoma week two or if I’d rather play them week 12. The truth is I’d rather play them never because they’re pretty good. I don’t know if it really matters to be honest with you.” – West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen

Breakout player

Sooners Illustrated whiffed last week with LaColtan Bester as the choice as he had one catch. This week going to move to the defensive side of the ball and say it’s going to be a good Saturday night for defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. He played really well against ULM, but Mike Stoops said he expects a lot more from Phillips this week. And you know that defense is going to be fired up following last year’s debacle.

Prediction

OU 31, West Virginia 16. It’s easy to say, but if OU doesn’t turn the ball over, the Sooners should roll pretty easily in this one. The offensive line is in superb condition and led by the running backs and Trevor Knight, it should be a fun Saturday night for OU fans. Running back Damien Williams notches his first two touchdowns of the season, while the defensive line continues to control the line of scrimmage.



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