We're beginning a new segment on the blog this week called "The Other Side." In it we will pose questions to an opposing beat writer about the upcoming game. This week we were lucky enough to be joined by Jason Kersey, who covers the Sooners for The Oklahoman.
Here's what Jason had to say ...
1. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on Monday seemed to downplay his team’s struggles in Lubbock in recent years. Does the same go for the rest of the team? Or are the Sooners using it as a sort of revenge factor?
Bob’s point, I think, was a good one: Texas Tech obviously didn’t care much about its history in Norman when the Red Raiders came here and won last year, so why should he focus too much on that sort of thing? It’s an interesting storyline, though, just because weird things seem to happen to OU in that stadium, but most of the current Sooners haven’t ever really played much in Lubbock. Some of them have sort of implied that they are going to play Saturday’s game with last season in mind, but I didn’t hear anyone use the word “revenge;” it almost seemed like they were careful not to use it.
2. There was a lot of hype around freshman wide receiver Trey Metoyer in the preseason. So far it seems as though he’s been relatively quiet (10 catches for 90 yards in three games). Do you expect him to be a bigger part of the game plan for the Sooners on Saturday and further into Big 12 play?
It’s been really interesting because I think everyone up here expected him to be an instant superstar. He was fantastic in the spring game last April, which left many of us assuming that he’d immediately be the best wideout on the team come August. But, as it turned out, Kenny Stills is still a pretty good player, too, Justin Brown transferred from Penn State and Sterling Shepard has really played well, also. I think some of Trey’s problems have been adjusting to the college game and getting his timing down with Landry, but going forward I do expect him to continue improving and eventually be the star we all thought he’d be.
3. The Oklahoma offensive line suffered a number of major injuries during the preseason. How has that unit progressed through those setbacks?
Seniors Ben Habern and Tyler Evans were each lost either right before, or right at the beginning of, fall camp, so that kind of threw things into a tailspin. The offensive line has made some improvements over the first three games, I think, after struggling some in the season opener at UTEP. The offensive line’s biggest issue, really, is depth; Habern and Evans left the Sooners pretty thin up front, so they can’t afford any more injuries on the offensive line or things could get really ugly really fast.
4. Few fan bases seem to put as much pressure on their quarterback as Oklahoma. How has Landry Jones responded after a rough performance during a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 opener?
Landry has pretty much been the same guy in interviews, and to his credit, he’s taken full responsibility for what happened against Kansas State (as I think he should have). The most concerning thing about Landry right now is that he’s still making lots of mistakes that you typically don’t expect to see from fifth-year seniors who have started since they were freshmen. There are many people who think Landry Jones was made to look awfully good because of the security blanket Ryan Broyles provided, and once that was gone with about four games left last year, Jones’ on-field production has taken a nosedive. The Texas Tech game is critical for Jones’ confidence, which itself is critical for OU’s ultimate 2012 success.
5. Give me two keys — one on offense, one on defense — for the Sooners to win for the first time in Lubbock since 2003.
On offense, I think establishing the run is very, very important. OU needs to be able to sustain some drives to take the Tech crowd out of the game (as much as it can), and it’ll be tough to do that with the pass only. OU has an excellent running back, Damien Williams, who has shown an ability to both carry the load and be a legitimate home-run threat, but he’s only getting about 10 carries a game. On defense, the secondary is key. It’s largely the same cast of characters — both in Tech’s passing game and OU’s secondary — from last year’s upset, and this is the first real test to see just how much Mike Stoops has actually improved the pass defense.