I figured I'd drop some of my thoughts while I wait for the podcast to make itself "un-invisible" to me I'd get them out there. So while we're waiting for Talkshoe to release the awesome interview I did with Clark Nelson from the ACC and SEC Blog we'll talk a little for ITB's first ever Thursday's Thoughts. This week we'll tackle something that is plaguing a lot of fan bases out there:
Frustration in 2009
Oklahoma's situation is, without a doubt, the most frustrating to me for the season.
Not because of Bradford's injury or the inability to live up to their top three billing preseason. I still think Stoops is a heckuva coach and the Sooners are darn lucky to have him. No Oklahoma is on this list because of their utter lack of a running game. The Sooners rank 59th in rushing offense nationally and are averaging almost 50 yards less than a season ago.
This is a backfield that featured two of the top ten NFL draft prospects at running back in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray. Both guys gained over 1,000 yards a season ago and combined for 34 rushing touchdowns. Now, with two games left, they've got a combined 1,201 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
DeMarco Murray is as talented as any player in the nation. He's the southwest's answer to CJ Spiller; or at least he should be. The guy is a dynamic playmaker and Chris Brown is a work horse who totes the ball like a champion and is capable of getting the tough yards.
Read more for the rest of what is so frustrating about OU's run game...
To add to this frustration is the insistence of coordinator Kevin Wilson to rely on the passing game. For a team lacking its best passing tandem yet returning the nation's most prolific backfield it would seem a no-brainer. Throw in the fact that their offensive line is completely rebuilt and this becomes almost to simple to see.
Run blocking is the easiest thing for an inexperienced lineman to do. Ask the Alabama Crimson Tide's new starters how much easier it is to just go straight ahead and use their girth to push people as compared to dropping backwards to try and pass protect. In short; the Sooners should have packed in tight, allow Venables defense to do the dirty work and pulled out ugly wins the way Alabama, Florida and LSU have during the season.
Sure their rushing efforts against the Cornhuskers and Longhorns were nothing to write home about but look at the facts. Nowhere in those games were the Sooners down by more than a score. That's a one play game. In the case of the Texas game we're talking the difference between the muffed punt and letting the ball go out of bounds.
Don't let the big numbers against weak opponents fuel you, the Sooner offense is nothing to write home about. Throwing the football only exposed them to being pillaged by future NFL first rounders like Sergio Kindle and Ndamukong Suh. Even a less talented BYU team put pressure on the quarterback and kept Jones and Bradford under constant duress.
Whether it is pride on Wilson's part or a stubborn nature on the part of the staff in general surely they realized without Gresham, Bradford, Loadholt, Iglesias, Johnson, Cooper, Robinson and Walker there would be some serious need to scale back the offense.
It has happened all over the nation:
Addazio has scaled back the Gator offense with the loss of Harvin and Murphy
Jim McElwain at Alabama has limited Greg McElroy's throws in favor of winning games with defense
Jim Tressel tightened the reins on his offense to limit the pressure on Pryor and use a suffocating D and special teams
Iowa lost their best running back, wide receiver and now quarterback but still is in the hunt for a BCS bowl.
Kansas State is in the running for a Big XII North Title thanks to running Daniel Thomas and limiting mistakes
So why, pray tell, are the Sooners continuing to throw the football when they've got the most dynamic duo in the nation?
It is a mystery to me and with Stoops now on the hot seat for a 6-4 season that could end 6-6 with a trip to the Alamo, Sun or Holiday Bowl on the horizon there will surely be repercussions. Wilson is square in the middle of Sooner fans' sights and with the ineffective nature of their offense dating back to the 2009 BCS Title game through this season there may need to be changes made in Norman.