Revenge is a word that has been used often when discussing Oklahoma’s game with Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, this weekend. But redemption is probably a better word. The Sooners enter the game with a defense that was torched by the Red Raiders in 2011 and a quarterback who played one of the worst games of his career in his previous outing.
Here’s a look at five storylines for the Sooners' matchup with Texas Tech.
1. Can Landry Jones regain confidence?
It’s a crazy question to ask about a quarterback who is in his fifth season in Norman and began the year as a Heisman candidate. Yet, we’ve been brought to this point by Jones’ play. This game will be the opportunity to answer critics who have been hammering the Sooners quarterback for two weeks.
Look for OU to get Jones comfortable and confident early with short passes and easy opportunities to get the ball in the hands of the Sooners' top playmakers.
2. Can OU win the battle up front?
Texas Tech defensive tackle Kerry Hyder is the best interior lineman the Sooners have faced this season. He’s an athletic linemen with the ability to disrupt the game plan and create havoc in the backfield on run and pass plays. OU must play well along the offensive line.
Defensively, the Sooners need to find a way to create a pass rush with their front four. R.J. Washington will need to elevate his level of play and David King will need to continue his consistent production at defensive tackle and defensive end. If the Sooners don’t have to blitz, they can make life tougher for Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege.
3. How will a road game in Lubbock impact a team which has never played there?
Outside of Jones, OU’s main playmakers have very limited experience at Jones Stadium. The Red Raider crowd can be loud and rowdy, yet can also be taken out of a game with a early lead. If OU gets down early can the Sooners handle the rowdy atmosphere and focus enough to stop the bleeding? Or will mental mistakes arise amidst the road environment? Time will tell.
4. Will Damien Williams be asked to carry the load?
Bob Stoops repeatedly said that he wants Williams to get more carries. It’s not hard to understand why as the junior college transfer is averaging 9.8 yards per carry this season.
Putting the game upon his shoulders could pay multiple dividends for OU. It gives the defense time to rest while keeping the Red Raiders offense off the field, it takes the decision-making burden off of Landry Jones and it puts the ball in the hands of a dynamic playmaker who combines physical running with breakaway speed.
Sounds like a win-win.
5. Is OU’s secondary ready for the challenge?
There’s no doubt starting cornerbacks Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst are ready. They are playing at an extremely high level. And Tony Jefferson has terrific ball-hawking instincts. Javon Harris has had his struggles in coverage but he’s been a big-play safety as well.
Which means the spotlight could be on OU’s secondary depth, particularly Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson. Both players will be put in tough coverage situations with slot receivers but they have been solid thus far. The key for OU’s secondary will be making quality tackles in the open field. If they limit the Red Raiders yards after catch, they’ll force Texas Tech to put together sustained drives and make multiple key plays to score instead of one big play.