After a 3-0 start, Oklahoma took a break last weekend. Even with the Sooners sitting on the sidelines, the results were a little sobering.
Take a look at who OU has played so far:
- Baylor blistered the Sooners' opening opponent, Louisiana-Monroe, by 63 points. Aside from throwing a little shade on OU's defensive performance against the Warhawks, that trip to Waco for a Thursday night game looks even more daunting with the Bears' hot start.
- West Virginia, a team that kept it tight with OU in week two, got stomped by Maryland, 37-0. The Mountaineers have barely come off as competent this season... Except when they played OU.
- Tulsa had the week off, but the Golden Hurricane don't look like anything better than a mediocre mid-major to this point.
Transitively speaking, that doesn't say much for what OU has accomplished to date.
And if I had a nickel for every time the transitive property has made a shit in college football, I doubt it would add up to much.
Last weekend's results may have cast a smidge of uncertainty on my early conclusions about the 2013 version of Oklahoma. Truth be told, though, I still feel pretty confident that:
OU's defensive line has improved dramatically since last season.
The emergence of Jordan Phillips at defensive tackle and explosive ends Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom on the edge has helped transform the defensive line from the Sooners' weakest link into a pretty strong unit. Part of the improvement has come from shifting to a more attacking scheme. Additionally, whereas Jackie Shipp rode his starters until they gave out, newly hired position coach Jerry Montgomery has developed a little depth.
Even so, OU's still lacking enough depth up front. Phillips, in particular, can't get banged up.
The D is playing well, but that doesn't make it a great D.
Huge difference between the two.
In terms of fundamentals and technique, the defense is functioning at a level reminiscent Mike Stoops' better groups. (He's still one of the best coordinators alive.) Yet, talent-wise, the Sooners are a cut below those units.
Welcome to life in the Big 12, Mike. Guys like Brodney Pool and Tommie Harris are scarce these days.
The running game isn't fixed.
Oklahoma re-worked its ground game in the offseason, adding elements of the Pistol to its offensive repertoire. Through the first two games, the Sooners were chewing up yardage with a new suite of triple option and zone reads. While the passing game sputtered, OU had more than 300 yards rushing in both, averaging 6.1 and 5.5 yards per carry, respectively.
OU didn't move the ball nearly as efficiently on the ground in the third game with Blake Bell in at quarterback, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt. Not surprisingly, the offense bore a greater resemblance to the Air Raid scheme that OU ran for the last four years.
If offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is abandoning the Pistol, it raises doubts about OU's ability to run consistently going forward this year.
The quarterback competition isn't over.
True, Blake Bell did put up some huge stats against Tulsa. But we're not talking about the Steel Curtain here.
Bell brings a steady presence in the huddle, and he's clearly a more polished thrower than Trevor Knight or Kendal Thompson. Those two add another facet to the attack with their legs, though.
Don't be surprised if Bob Stoops finds himself juggling quarterbacks at some point again this year.