Stopping the option
Oklahoma is used to playing against fast-paced spread offenses in the Big 12. But before the Sooners get to conference play, they’ll see yet another different play style Saturday against Tulane.
In Week 1, OU held UTEP’s power-run game to only seven points. In Week 2, OU limited Ohio State’s power-spread to 16 points. This week, the Sooners will face a Tulane offense that runs primarily out of shotgun but uses old-school triple-option principles.
“They’re gonna definitely stress us with a spread-option attack,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s not option in the sense of like you see with Navy and some of the military schools, but there’s a lot of option-based rules to it. There’ll be a lot of assignment football for our guys.”
OU should have enough of a physical advantage to dominate up front, but something to watch out for: the play-action pass.
“Don’t fall asleep,” cornerback Parnell Motley said. “They’re gonna run you to sleep, run you to death, then try to hit you with a play-action pass. So just keep my head on a swivel, keep my eyes open and keep playing football.”
More on Motley
OU was up 24-13 last week, trying to prevent any semblance of a comeback from Ohio State. Motley was sticking to a receiver’s outside shoulder and watching J.T. Barrett as he rolled out of the pocket. Motley saw OU linebacker Kenneth Murray closing in and watched as Barrett began to throw. Motley jumped ahead, breaking to the ball and nabbing an interception that helped close out the Buckeyes.
For Motley, that pick proved the hype he’s gotten ever since spring practice is real.
“It means a lot, especially if I’m doing everything in practice, just to get that awesome feeling in the game,” Motley said.
More importantly, it gave OU its first interception of the season. The Sooners had only nine interceptions last year and didn’t get their first until the fourth game against TCU.
“It sets a high tone, especially in a game like that, to get the momentum going and get our defense going,” Motley said. “We’ll continue playing like that throughout the year.”
Growing up fast
Shortly after tight end Mark Andrews left last week’s game with a knee injury, freshman replacement Grant Calcaterra was in the heat of action.
Calcaterra was wide open over the middle of the field deep in enemy territory. Baker Mayfield threw a pass a bit behind Calcaterra, but it still hit him right in the hands. Calcaterra dropped the ball that could have turned into a touchdown, and the Sooners ended up missing a field goal.
Later in the game, Mayfield again had Calcaterra open, and he didn’t hesitate to give him another chance. Calcaterra caught the ball in traffic and ended up with a 21-yard catch key to OU’s second-half momentum.
“Not only was it a momentum booster for the team, it was a momentum booster for me, as well,” Calcaterra said.
Andrews has a good chance to play this week, but if he doesn’t, OU will likely be comfortable leaning on Calcaterra as yet another freshman playing a big role.