Bedlam: Can Cowboys Run Over Sooners?

Jeremy Smith vs. OU in 2011.

We'll have our usual matchups and predictions later in the week, but the interesting matchup the last several years in Bedlam has been the Oklahoma defense and the Oklahoma State offense. That matchup is again very intriging. This season Oklahoma State has had to dial up changes in its offense week to week while Oklahoma has been using a different personnel solution to Big 12 offenses.

Those OU packages may have run their course last week when the Sooners allowed a school record rushing yards, including 344 to Mountaineer star athlete Tavon Austin. You can count on the Stoopses making changes, something they have done before for Bedlam.

Because of injuries and instability at quarterback, Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken has had to invent and conjure up schemes to keep the Cowboys explosive and productive throughout the season.

The season started well for the Cowboys (remember the defense was the most self-destructive in the desert against Arizona) until the Louisiana game, and that's when Monken quickly adapted to a more controlled passing game and some quarterback run with J.W. Walsh thrown into the pilot's seat.

Lunt suffered a dislocated petella and a high ankle sprain but the mid-game transition was handled about as well as possible as the Cowboys scored 65 points in a win.

The game plan against Texas was good. Then in the rain at Kansas, Monken said he had his worst game of the season. The Cowboys could not run the ball and in the rain weren't prepared to throw the ball, especially after losing Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson to significant injuries in the second quarter.

The offense recovered with a very solid game plan for Iowa State that featured all the best of what the game and gutty Walsh can do. However, the next day we all learned that Walsh was very game and gutty, so much so that he played on a fractured bone.

Lunt re-entered the picture, and Monken eased him back in against TCU. A key second quarter throw to Josh Stewart that split defenders signaled Lunt was back and the Cowboys won comfortably.

At Kansas State, that shade of purple was bad for the Cowboys as Lunt threw three interceptions before leaving with concussion-like symptoms and giving way to Clint Chelf. Chelf rallied the offense and threw for 233 yards and a touchdown.

Once number three on the depth chart, Chelf was now number one. He has made the most of it the last two weeks, showing a good arm, good mind for reading defenses, and the leadership that may have been lacking last spring when he was favored to win the job but finished behind the two younger quarterbacks.

The best news for the Cowboys is all three quarterbacks are ready. Isaiah Anderson, not a great fit against OU because of size, is hot after a 174-yard, three-touchdown receiving day against Texas Tech.

All receivers except Moore are good to go, and running back Jeremy Smith is fully healthy to go with Joe Randle as both backs rushed for more than 100 yards against the Sooners last season.

Okay, three years ago after a loss to Texas Tech in which the Red Raiders went up and down the field on the OU defense, the Sooners went full speed all week and came in to crack the Cowboys.

In 2010, the Sooners came in and switched to a 50-front eagle defense against the Cowboys. They could not run and Dana Holgorsen, not known as a great in-game adjustor, didn't seem to switch anything until after OU had built a solid halftime advantage.

The Cowboys were determined to run the ball last season and they did right over the Sooners and on the way to their castle.

OU has employed a defensive personnel group the last two weeks with four defensive linemen, a hybrid safety-linebacker, and six defensive backs. It has curtailed the pass, especially Baylor's passing game, but it allowed both Baylor and West Virginia massive running results.

I cannot believe OU will stay with that look. Bob Stoops said they would adjust and they will.

First, OU won't need six defensive backs, and I expect to see at least a couple of legitimate linebackers. They won't feel that they need so many corners and safeties to cover the Cowboys receivers.

Look for the OU defensive ends to crash a lot. They will want to pressure the backfield and I think you might see some legitimate blitzes mixed in for good measure.

It will be interesting to see what fronts Brother Mike (Stoops) will use. Oklahoma State will need to throw the ball. Monken must make OU respect the pass in order to get the desired room for Randle and Smith.

If they get the pass going then Kye Staley can be a secret weapon blowing up OU players for his teammates. Balance is the key as last year the Cowboys had 278 rushing yards and 217 passing yards. Dial up numbers like that and it won't matter how many defensive backs the Sooners use, or how many running backs the Cowboys employ.

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