Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

July 24, 2013

Sooners could put brakes on up-tempo offense

OU football notebook

DALLAS — The rapid offensive pace Oklahoma’s played at since 2009 might be reduced this season. That was the major nugget Sooner coach Bob Stoops threw out Tuesday at Big 12 Football Media Days.

“Well, it’s something to consider, definitely, how fast you are going, how effective it is, how it is affecting the defense?  So it’s something to look at,” Stoops said. “There is a lot of experience back. The one thing I think, no matter who the quarterback is, there’s a lot of experience around the quarterback — three senior running backs, an experienced receiver corps, experienced line.

“So hopefully we can stay on the field, eat some clock. Even if we are going no-huddle sometimes, there’s opportunity to still use up some of the clock.”

The up-tempo offense has its positives, but the unquestioned negative it means your defense is going to be on the field for a lot more plays. Running three plays and punting in 30 seconds is the nightmare scenario.

OU saw that one play out repeatedly in the second half of its Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M to end last season.

“It is a tough balance. If you’re going to be doing it, you need to stay on the field and score. So, anyway, it’s a big issue,” Stoops said. “I know we come out of, I think, the second half — we played poorly on defense, but the second half of the Cotton Bowl we had four straight possessions, three-and-out and a turnover. We did nothing and handed them right back the football back in good field position and that kind of thing. So we go hand in hand that way.

“So it is something that always needs to be considered and watched, how we’re doing it and how effective it is.”

There are two issues that point toward OU slowing the pace this season. One centers on having an experienced offensive line and a quartet of senior running backs — Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch — a very talented fullback (Trey Millard) and fleet-footed quarterbacks for the first time in years.

Nonetheless, the up-tempo offense has been OU’s calling card for the last five seasons.

“The way we’ve utilized tempo has been successful for us. It’s not frantic, because we’re calculating in everything we do,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “As long as we keep using the tempo to our advantage and using the mobility we have now and all the players we have at skill positions, it will help us score more points on offense. We can catch defenses on their heels when they don’t have plays called and they’re looking at their sidelines. That’s when we utilize our tempo and it’s been effective for us.”

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