It's Homecoming weekend. Homecoming is the time where you want to have a somewhat winnable game so that everyone who is coming back to enjoy the festivities can go get a nice buzz after a victory. Unfortunately, Kansas fans are used to ending Homecoming weekend with a loss, as there just aren't that many winnable games for this program. To help steel us for what is coming, I spoke with Matt Hofeld over at Crimson & Cream Machine, the SB Nation site covering the Oklahoma Sooners. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: Given the way they played prior to and since the loss to Texas, it would seem that the Sooners just weren't focused that day and took a win for granted. Is that a fair assessment, or has something changed on the team that explains their recent streak of domination?
C&CM: It looks like that Texas game is going to be their albatross this season. Regardless of how they finish people or going to be asking, "what the heck happened in Dallas?"
I don't want to take away from the Longhorns because they took their limited offensive and defensive strentghts and executed them to perfection. They were more physical than Oklahoma and absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage.
That said, the game was also a wake up call for the Sooners. The coaches made a couple of changes in personnel and the players have responded extremely well after having their manhood challenged by the fans and media following that loss.
RCT: Last year's game is probably one that the Jayhawks want to forget, what with Samaje Perine literally running all over the defense. It looks like he has toned it down a bit, but only because there is a lot more around him this year. Is the running game still the heart of this offense, or are the Sooners going to put on an aerial show to match the ground assault from last year?
C&CM: Oklahoma ran the ball so much in that game out of necessity. Trevor Knight's injury took Oklahoma's struggling passing attack and made it pretty much a non-factor. I think Perine is still as dangerous as we was last season, he just isn't used as often...unless the defense is surrendering the run like Texas Tech did last week. Lincoln Riley was pretty adamant that he'll take what the defense gives him.
RCT: Tell us more about the Sooner defense. Is it like the one we saw early in the year that had problems with decent offenses, or did the switch we see flip have nothing to do with the strength of these last couple opponents? Who are the key cogs in that well-oiled machine?
C&CM: Once they got the kinks worked out at defensive back thing have worked much better for Oklahoma. Jordan Thomas sat out the Tulsa game due to a team rules violation but has been stellar since returning. Zack Sanchez won't play on Saturday because of a high-ankle sprain but Dakota Austin filled in superbly last week. Charles Tapper and Eric Striker are still there to cause trouble in the back field and the addition of Will Johnson (a move that came after the Texas game) at the nickel back has paid huge dividends.
To beat Oklahoma's defense you have to be able to over power or out run them, and that sets them up pretty well...until they travel to play Baylor.
RCT: Suppose that Homecoming magic happens: the Jayhawks magically upset the Sooners. How in the hell would something insane like that happen?
C&CM: Turnovers!!! They can be the death of any offense and Oklahoma sure is capable of coughing up the ball. The other side of that would be injuries. The worst thing that could happen to the Sooners is to get one or two key guys banged up in this game. The result could be staggering.
RCT: I'm pretty sure every Kansas fan is preparing for their beatdown coming this weekend. Just how do you see the game going this weekend for the Jayhawk faithful? Since we have a bad habit of making bad teams/players look good, which scrub is most likely to impersonate a Heisman candidate this week?
C&CM: Without trying to sound disrespectful, I don't see how Kansas can win this game without a miracle of the ages. I have OU winning somewhere around 45-17.
If you're looking for a relatively unknown player to have a big day then I'd pick tight end Mark Andrews. He's not a widely used guy but when he is it typically results in a touchdown.
RCT: BONUS - We get the feeling that Kansas Football fans are in for a rough season. To do our part to help, we are taking up collections. What alcoholic beverage would you contribute to the storehouse to help our fans drown their sorrows after a loss?
C&CM: I'd lay off the alcohol because basketball season is just around the corner and you guys are certainly going to want to be conscious for that. Let's throw some coffee and sweet tea in there so you all can make it over to Phog Allen in a timely manner.
A special thanks to Matt for taking some time to inform us about how bad we can expect it to get. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well.