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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Crimson & Cream Machine

A look at this week's coming opponent from our SBNation sister-site Crimson & Cream Machine.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With the mood surrounding the team at an all time high over the last two weeks, the fanbase has set their hopes on the slim chance that they might be able to sneak out a road win in Norman. Looking to bring some reality back to my mind, I reached out to Matt Hofeld over at Crimson & Cream Machine.

RCT: The big story (at least for those who don't regularly follow the Sooners) is Cody Thomas is starting instead of Trevor Knight. How much of a drop off is there when Thomas is playing, and how much of an improvement do you expect from him this week?

CCM: There is growing speculation that Trevor Knight could be done for the season. If that's the case then Oklahoma fans need to pledge their full support to Cody Thomas. He's a young kid but, like most college athletes, has potential. He made some really bad choices with the ball last week against Texas Tech that resulted in multiple turnovers. Obviously that has to get better, but on the other side of things he ran the ball really well.

RCT: We all noticed that Sterling Shepard did not play against Tech. Is he expected to play this week, and if not, how big of a hit is that for the offense? You at least have to admit you were a little bit excited to see the (JaCorey) Shepherd v Shepard matchup.

CCM: My understanding is that Sterling is going to try and give it a go. He tried last week but just couldn't plant, cut or push off. It's another week later so we'll see at game time.
If he can't go it will force guys like Durron Neal and Michiah Quick to step up once again. More notably it'll mean that the Sooners will need to rely on Samaje Perine and the running game even more.

RCT: Why did it take so long for the Sooners to rely on their run game? Any chance that we can see Bob Stoops forget about that side of the offense for so long again this weekend?
CCM: Ah, here's the $4 million dollar question. There isn't a good answer here. The Sooners are without their starting quarterback and their top receiver so Josh Heupel decides to go with a pass heavy game plan against one of the worst run defenses in the conference. There isn't a world in which that makes sense!
I wish I could say that they did it to get Cody Thomas experience, or to get a good matchup with a receiver but I can't. It was done out of stubbornness because that is what Heupel does.

RCT: While Oklahoma still has a high-powered offense, it seems that the defense has taken a bit of a step back. Who on the defense should we keep an eye on this week? Who needs to have a big game in order for the Sooners to shut down the suddenly resurgent Jayhawk offense?
CCM: Oklahoma's secondary is really struggling right now, particularly at the safety position. The Sooners were torched by Baylor and have regularly given up big plays all season long. Many of those big plays were the result of either a blown assignment or a missed tackle by a member of the secondary.
Oklahoma's defensive game plan won't change. They have to get pressure in the backfield, fill gaps, and cover. It sounds simple but trust hasn't been.

Zack Sanchez is Oklahoma's top corner which means that the Jayhawks will most likely attack Julian Wilson on the other side. Linebacker Eric Striker will be the guy to put pressure on Cummings.

RCT: Finally, what is your prediction for the game? I noticed that since Big 12 play started, the Sooners have alternated wins and losses, so it's about time for another loss, right?
CCM: I think the line is way too high in this game. I can see it being a frustrating 14 or 17 point win for the Sooners. If Kansas pulls the upset then there may be riots with pitchforks and torches at the Switzer Center. Give me OU with a 37-20 win.

A special thanks to Matt for joining us today. Be sure to check out the questions I answered for him as well.