1. Don Birkhead

    In commenting on OU, you don’t address their significant losses at RB and WR. Do you assume that they will simply reload?

    • ianaboyd

      OU retains their OL, FB, and QB. I’ll agree with anyone that wants to say either Mixon or Perine were exceptional backs. They were, but with this supporting cast it won’t take an NFL back to do real damage. Anyways, OU always has lots of good backs on campus.

      At WR they bring back AD Miller and Mark Andrews, which helps, and are bringing a JUCO speed guy that I’m pretty confident will fill into the Broyles-Saunders-Shepard-Westbrook line of shorter guys very well.

      Can’t remember his name but look up their class and he’ll be obvious.

      • JObhr

        Marquise Brown is the name you’re looking for, and he’s already in Norman. Hopefully, with the Spring and Summer in Norman, he won’t have the one-year lag in performance that new OU WR’s generally have.

        I think OU’s DL will improve next year with the return of an injured DT (Overton) and another DT that will be in shape after sitting out a 1.5 years (Lampkin). Along with a returning Sr (Romar), that’s good depth. Overton may be able to spell Gallimore, who looked good as a R-Fr, at DE. The other DE spot was weak this year and will be thin next year too. A couple of underperforming players will hopefully make a leap.

        MLB slots will be filled by an undersized Jr or Fr with high upside. I think this is the weakest link of the defense next year. However, OU’s improved recruiting should allow a creativity defensive coordinator to tailor platoons that can respond to the variety of offenses the Sooners will face. I know that creativity hasn’t been the hallmark of this staff recently, but we can dream of bold strokes.

        BTW, PFF’s numbers supported your earlier assertion that Jordan Thomas was at least OK and definitely the best cover DB in OU’s secondary. If he can maintain focus throughout games, he could be special. The other CB slot should be better for the Sooners, and the loss of Ahmad Thomas shouldn’t be crippling as OU’s recruited well at the S spot the last 2-3 cycles.

  2. JObhr

    Good piece Ian. I think it’s implied, but there is benefit in saying so explicitly. BillC’s analysis a couple of years ago focused on offensive efficiency as a necessary quality for beating the Tide.

    A couple of comments regarding the Bama offense. Sarkisian taking over for Kiffin may have an effect on the Tide offense. If Hurts develops in the passing game, its basically over because paring an offense with a diverse running game and efficient passing with that defense is the pinnacle of football.

    Ironically, the person I’d most trust to shepherd Hurts’ development is at Ohio St. Wilson’s great achievement at OU wasn’t winning with Bradford. Rather, he fashioned an offense that could win a Big12 championship with Paul Thompson at QB, a mediocre line, one good WR, and a RB who was recruited as a safety (2006).

    If the Meyer – Wilson combo works interpersonally, that will be a tough matchup for anyone. Both are big personalities with egos so it could be combustible. However, Wilson is a savant and can tailor offenses to what he has available. At Ohio St, he’ll have a lot. Will Meyer let him work?

    • ianaboyd

      I’m going to write on the Wilson/Meyer marriage for Athlon this offseason, you’re right it’s fascinating.

      The challenge for Sark is adding passing game elements without losing Bama’s ability to execute their run game at such a high level. Should be feasible…pretty scary stuff.

  3. Cameron

    The entire article reminds me of a lecture I got from one of my high school defensive coordinators. We had an upcoming game against a triple-option team, and he asked the defensive meeting room what the hardest thing to stop was. I (foolishly) rose my hand and said “the spread offense.” He looked at me like I had said “Ford Taurus” or “the Moon,” and told us no, it was a running quarterback who could throw well.

    Dude spent the next five minutes detailing a game from two years back where our high school defense got shredded by a Wing-T team because their quarterback could run the ball well, eliminating our numbers advantage, and could throw well off play action so we couldn’t play the run aggressively. The combination put us in a bind, and we got our butts kicked.

    So your answer on how to beat Alabama’s defense just reminds me of the same thing: running quarterback who can throw well. Of course you need the support around him, with solid offensive linemen, good receivers, and an elite defense. But at the end of the day, it isn’t the spread offense Saban has problems defending: its certain signal callers running it.

    Anyways, figured I’d share that tidbit.

    • ianaboyd

      I mostly agree, but if Clemson could have protected him a statuesque QB could have ripped Bama just as hard.

      I think protection is a bit too tough in college though to make the passing game really dominant without a good scrambler though.

      Tough beans for the NFL who then has to find future star QBs from a less successful rank of signal-callers.

      • Cameron

        Given the typical strength of Alabama’s defensive line, I’m not sure how many teams can field an offensive line to reliably protect their quarterback against it without their passer being at least somewhat mobile or getting out the ball really, really fast.

        We’re probably not disagreeing here, but talking about it from different perspectives. If I was an offensive line coach going up against Bama, and the starting QB told me he needed 3.5 seconds, I’d tell him to get used to eating grass. If he can’t get it out under 2.8, he better make up the rest with his legs.

        So if you have someone who gets the ball out like a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, sure, I could see at least 10 teams being able to protect their statuesque QB against Bama because the QB gets the ball out fast enough. So yes, that’s a possibility. But how many college QBs can reliably get the ball out in 2.8 seconds? A lot fewer than the QBs who can buy another half second with their legs. So I think the mobile QB is the more realistic option.

        • ianaboyd

          I think that’s generally true of college teams whether they are discussing beating Alabama or beating anyone else.

          It’s rare that teams can protect their QB effectively dropping back all day unless he can move around some.

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