1. Clayton Davis

    I know that your information about Wylie from his stint at Texas leads you to think more of the same at OU, but the scuttlebutt at OU right now is quite the opposite. It’s early yet, but let’s see how this develops over a year or two.

    I really hope in general that there’s more of a culture shift at OU, especially on defense, where the best, most aggressive players get on the field early and often. We started to see that last year, but now those players at LB and DB have to keep pushing.

    • ianaboyd

      What’s the early word on Wylie and where’s it coming from?

      To me the problem at OU is that the best, most aggressive players on defense are usually the underclassmen. That’s not a good indicator of the culture, which I hear you agreeing is the problem. You want your upperclassmen to be playing fast because they know what they’re doing, to be physically maxed out, and to be hungry to win a title before their time is up. Recently it’s seemed like the young guys are hungrier (see, I can outdo these older jokers!) and then they tend to slow down, perhaps affected by complacency or some other cultural malaise.

      • Clayton Davis

        Mainly some of the boards I frequent, as well as The Football Brainiacs. It could be sunshine pumping, I don’t know.

        It’s really odd that the culture problem seems to be so focused on defense. The offense under Riley and Bedenbaugh has shown a lot of steady progress even as Riley hasn’t hesitated to put in the young dogs. Maybe it’s a holdover from Bob Stoops running the show; maybe it’s a Mike thing.

        • ianaboyd

          Here’s the thing to put your ear down for:

          Wylie is much more of a player’s coach whereas Schmidt was more a drill sergeant. Wylie will be pals with guys and develop good relationships with the players. The concern, from what I hear, is that to have the kind of culture and program that really maxes out players and makes them into physical beasts (particularly on defense) you need your S&C coach to be the toughest guy in the program.

          If the positives you’re hearing are that the players love him and like him as a guy that they’re friendly with, be discerning and realize that may not be a good sign. If there’s reports that he’s building strength and power in guys in ways they didn’t have before then that’s a good sign.

          Ideally the S&C coach has stories told about him like, “Man…he made us do this one grueling thing and I hated it. Then I started getting faster and making plays I didn’t used to make. Now I go in there and I’m like, ‘let’s get to work.”

          You can be good on offense with a finessing culture because that’s largely about skills development. You can’t be good on defense if you’re not tough.

          • Clayton Davis

            But do you think OU’s offensive culture has been finesse over the last few years? I don’t think so, at least compared to the previous few years.

          • ianaboyd

            No, not finesse, but less power and downhill oriented than you’d think. The OL aren’t firing out and driving guys off the ball much, lots of screening and knocking over smaller guys in space.

            Not a criticism though, they run the ball very effectively and then from there do lots of other things well.

  2. Travis

    OU’s OL class brings up an interesting debate in whether, as a blue blood, it is better to target physically maxed-out OL prospects who are head-and-shoulders above their HS peers or take physical projects who are better athletes. Obviously the answer is “the best mix of both” but it’s an interesting question.

    • ianaboyd

      Interesting question but there aren’t really any “maxed out OL” prospects in high school. The guys that come in at 300 pounds almost always drastically rework their bodies. If you read “the blindside” it notes that Michael Oher went to Ole Miss at like 340 and slimmed down to 305 or something in his first year or two, then added more good weight from there.

      I’d amend to:
      How many 300 pounders to take vs guys that have superior athleticism but haven’t demonstrated that they can carry 300?

      And then I’d agree that you probably want a mix. Some of those “natural” 300 pounders are guys that are truly amazing, sometimes the guys that are going to get there with time end up being the best athletes (Connor Williams comes to mind).

      • Clayton Davis

        Yeah OU has done it both ways this decade. Lane Johnson was a great athlete that went from a big QB size to a solild tackle weight, while Orlando Brown slimmed down considerably since he stepped on campus.

      • Travis

        That’s a good amendment. I agree.

        I think there is something to the idea that guys who grow into their frame in college learn a lot of valuable skills along the way that natural 300+ guys don’t normally have. A guy like Darrell Simpson, who has been 300+ for years now, has never really had to grapple with guys his equal. A lighter guy is going to have to make up for weight deficiency with technique and wherewithal. That’s the theory, anyway.

    • ianaboyd

      C means league average. If you’re scoring a B then that means I think you’re doing an above average job at stocking that position for competition in the Big 12.

      OU’s class scored really high for me when viewed in the right context because virtually every unit included players that I think will put the Sooners over the league average. The accumulation of that across multiple units REALLY adds up in a major way.

      I took some shots at things that I think indicate that OU’s culture is in trouble but I’m not taking any shots about the level of talent they’re bringing in.

  3. RD Birkhead

    Both OU and UT signed 3 WRs. UT’s were rated higher but you gave UT a B- and OU a B. Please explain your grades a little.

    • ianaboyd

      I’d probably flip those if I looked at them side to side, maybe I will.

      OU probably had less of a need at that spot tho because they use a flex TE.

  4. System Poster

    I haven’t watched a tremendous amount of Tanner Mordecai film but what I’ve seen does look very Baker Mayfield-esque. And the fact that he was Kingsbury’s first choice quarterback in this class probably means he has some deep well of untapped potential, and he’ll develop into an NFL draft pick, unfortunately.

    • ianaboyd

      LOL, maybe. I don’t see Baker Mayfield at all, he reminds me much more of someone like David Ash who’s ceiling was sadly unexplored due to concussions. I think he’d be best off with a redshirt and some time to learn the system and build habits with his eyes and cues.

      He could be really good but he’s not going to be Baker Mayfield, that guy was better than many seem to realize. I bet his NFL career clears things up a bit.

      • Travis

        Ash isn’t a bad comparison. Mordercai is a brute. He plays the position with an impressive amount of toughness. I agree with your assessment of him, though. I’d be surprised if Riley doesn’t turn his toughness and strong arm into an impressive college player given some time.

  5. Chris R

    As a Sooner fan I always look forward to your recruiting class analysis. I appreciate how you throw stars to the side and go off what you see on film. Thanks for doing this.

    One comment I have is after the Rose Bowl Riley commented that it seemed Ga’s frontv7 was stronger and more powerful than OU’s. So I imagine he has charged Wylie with getting OU stronger. Time will tell if right hire.

    • ianaboyd

      OU wasn’t about that Georgia life, lol. It wasn’t just strength, Georgia is also just a lot tougher right now. OU has really slipped this decade in terms of physicality, strength, and being intimidating on defense.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Chris R

        Agree about the D. What is ironic is on offense Anderson and Sermon were really laying some hits on Georgia’s D in first half. Sermon trucked a poor Ga DB. Sadly it seems like Riley got away from them a bit in 2d half. For an Air Raid team our O is pretty physical with physical and tough backs but the D isn’t. I really think Riley is trying to change that based on comments he has made. He said back at his Tech days OU was known for intimidating D and he wants to get back to that. I do think Mike is on a short leash this year.

        • ianaboyd

          He’s not wrong, the question is whether he knows how to build the kind of culture where that happens. If he can figure it out (and he’s a young man so he has some time), then he’s going to be legendary because his offensive acumen is so high.

  6. jobhr

    RE: Wylie
    The idea that yelling at people is the best way to motivate them was discredited. People perform to their highest potential with internal motivation. If you can show people the rationale for what you ask them and work with them to achieve it, you get buy in and internal drive. That internal drive builds leadership and character. I’ve been disappointed by OU’s continued support of it.

    Regarding Wiley’s specific techniques, I recall that he’s said modified those also. After he was fired at Texas, he’s been in Abilene for four years. During that time, he’s apparently modified his specific techniques at training. Hopefully, we’ll see how much has changed.

    • jobhr

      This is a recruiting post, but it has to consider returning depth chart, development, and deployment. You’ve done that. Kudos.

      QB: Isn’t it about time we stop predicting college success based on high school film at this position? We can tell if kids have the requisite size and strength but not much else.
      OU wasn’t going to get a top recruit at this position in this class because they have two really good players here right now. OU has an unsurpassed history of QB play this century.

      RB: OU did really well based on the depth chart.

      Ancillaries: Wow, Willis looks incredible. With Flowers leaving, the questionable progress of their 2017 recruit at this position (Calcaterra will split out), this was an area of need. Willis may have a chance to play early.

      OL: OU may be adopting my preferred approach of looking for tackles only and sliding those who don’t fit to OG. It looks like they have three good ones here. None are likely to play next year, but 2019 will see three openings on the OL.

      WR: Taylor looks like he could play next year here.

      • ianaboyd

        I’m suspicious of the “recruit only tackles” philosophy but there are schemes and styles that can allow it to work and OU operates with such a scheme. The danger is that you get lots of tall, leaner guys that can’t drive stout, quick DTs off the ball but OU has ways around that.

        RE QBs: I think judging off HUDL is really dangerous and leads people astray all the time. Ditto 7on7 times a billion.

        But going off full games? I think if you watch a full high school game you get a much better picture of a HS QB and what his strengths and weaknesses truly are. The impressions I’ve had off full game scouting analysis have really served me well over the last couple of years.

        • jobhr

          OU’s QB play this century has led to prolific passing games, rewarded by three Heismans.
          Here is how OU got these QBs:
          4-star with bad knees
          5-star — TERRIBLE
          Converted WR
          4-star — half the fanbase hated
          4-star — playing TE now

          • ianaboyd

            The ratings go off measurable, 7on7, and highlights.

            That’s why I like full games, which clued me in on things like “Baker makes a ton of plays and knows where the ball should go” or “Jerrod Heard sure doesn’t look very comfortable when he can’t run.”

    • jobhr

      *** EDIT ***
      RE: Wylie
      I’ve been disappointed by OU’s continued support of someone who has the reputation of berating people to motivate them.

      • ianaboyd

        I get that but it has to be noted that OU under Schmidt were the bullies of the league for a long time. Was it optimal? Maybe not, but it worked.

        The coaches for whom I know much about the culture they aim to build and who are successful at fielding physical teams tend to be guys that veer more towards being demanding and drill sergeant-esque.

    • ianaboyd

      Yeah regarding his evolution as a trainer, who knows? We’ll get a sense of how much he’s changing the culture this coming year by how OU’s run fits look. It’s also possible that he could be successful but that Mike Stoops’ oversight of the defense doesn’t allow it because they can’t mesh. Very complex situation to suss out, I feel like I’ve gained additional insights recently that only peel back a few layers of the onion.

      I get the “internal motivation” deal but I also think that maintaining a culture where people don’t feel safe to be complacent is also extremely important. Especially for young men and especially for young men that get a lot of the things that young men want (attention, respect, access to girls, high social rank) simply by wearing the uniform whether they win a lot or not. We’ve seen that at Texas which is much more prone to going soft than OU for reasons I can mostly only guess at.

      • jobhr

        Scarcity (playing time) is definitely a motivator. It doesn’t have to be accompanied by adults losing their composure. Bear Bryant learned that whispering made his players focus to hear what he was saying. It works.

        I completely agree that Kish and Stoops are holding back the team.

        • ianaboyd

          I’m not saying yelling and going ape is necessarily the answer, just that the S&C coach probably needs to be very tough.

          • Clayton Davis

            So the inside scoop is pretty much what you described. Guys are responding very much to Wylie as a friendly motivator. Time will tell if you are correct that this is to the detriment of the team.

          • ianaboyd

            There’s the motivation angle and then there’s the actual techniques of building strong players. The latter would worry me at least as much as the motivational tactics.

            For the latter a telling thing will be how many injuries they have in fall and the season. Maybe the weight of the OL also.

    • ianaboyd

      Yup. Although apparently they are working Ryan Jones and Mark Jackson at Sam so it’s not clear that OU is learning the lesson they should have learned. Which is not to use ANY linebackers in that spot. The problem wasn’t Caleb Kelly, lol.

      • Clayton Davis

        Not sure about that, tbh. Ryan Jones is a former DB, and there’s a possibility they work Bookie in as part of a 4-2-5.

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