Sometimes, we can be locked out of the humidor, especially when the Cigar goes on a week long bender in Los Angeles followed by cleaning vomit off the leather in the G-6. So, sorry about the mini-hiatus. Now, The Asset is a different story, and he’s gone missing for a different reason, but we’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Suffice it to say that the heat has been applied there so we’ll have to be more creative about getting you the information.
With that typed, throw on your favorite "members only" jacket and retire with us to the humidor.
JS: So how ‘bout that ride in? I guess that’s why they call it Sin City.
JS: The team, what was it like in the locker room after that dominating win versus the Bruins?
BC: The team is as confident as it’s been since midway through the 2009 season. But this is a young team so you’d expect that confidence after going 3-0. I talked to a member of the staff and he said they’re curious to see how the team reacts after some adversity. BYU doesn’t count because you had the QB change so no one really thought about adversity. They just went out and played. The players are established now so there's no turning back.
JS: So they don’t really think this was a statement win for the program?
BC: Not really. They don’t think UCLA is all that good but they were seriously impressed with some of the individual performances on the team. Don’t get me wrong, they’re pleased, but let’s just say Iowa State will be a stiffer challenge especially after everyone tells these young guys how good they are for the next two weeks. Plus OU looms large after that game in Ames. If you asked the coordinators or Mack, they’ll tell you they’re pretty nervous about how this team will approach Iowa State. They feel this will be challenge from a coaching and a preparation standpoint. They’re worried.
JS: So how are the coaches approaching this week of practice with that in mind?
BC: They’re tempted to do more preparation for OU than they have the past few weeks but they don’t want to send the wrong message. ISU is a good club and we’ll have to be ready. But we’ll devote at least two practices this week to OU prep.
JS: So we’ve already prepped for OU? If so, how much?
BC: Mostly film study, but a couple packages have already been installed for the Sooners. They didn’t specifically tell the kids they were for OU. This week they may build on those packages—if they haven’t already. I haven’t gotten an update from my guy yet as far as this week goes but I know that was the plan.
JS: That’s interesting. It’s kind of a catch 22 with ISU being a solid team. If it was ISU of old you could devote much more time on the Sooners. So, you mentioned individual players, which players were the coaches raving about after film study?
BC: They think Malcolm Brown is special and will be the workhorse the rest of the way. Fozzy is the perfect complement to Brown as an edge type of guy. Obviously Grant played well in the passing game but they’re disappointed by the blocking at the position. They’ll have to tighten that up if they want to continue to be a factor in the passing game. On the offensive line, Espinosa, Walters and Hopkins graded out the best but the surprise of the game was Cochran. He can be part of the solution out there if he continues to improve. He’s going to be a difference maker for us. At wide out, Ship and Davis played well with limited chances, but the focus is on blocking at the position. It’s why Darius White is DEEP in the dog house. Harris and Onyegbule are going to get more snaps due to their ability and willingness to be physical in the run game. Oh, and they’re giddy that Goodwin is back.
They didn’t get to use the deep play they devised with Goodwin in the game, so they’ll save it for a rainy day. Bank on it.
JS: What about defense?
BC: Overall Manny is pleased with the performance. We made plays when we got our hands on some footballs, but we need to execute when a TFL presents itself. We’re still missing too many opportunities to get teams behind the chains when we can. The other concern was the secondary play because the film showed some Bruins running open in the secondary. We’ll have to address that before facing the elite QB’s in our league. But that will also give our ends more chances to make plays so we’ll see what gives. But I’m told Manny is very pleased with how well we’re playing and gelling.
JS: If you can, talk about the QB position. How did they feel about Case and Ash’s performance?
BC: They thought Case played great although he got away with a couple of throws. His pocket presence and poise were great this game and he’s proving that he’s a different player when the lights come on. He’s not always like that in practice. Harsin and Applewhite think they can win with Case, and I’m not sure that’s always been their thinking based on what I was told.
As for Ash, they didn’t need to open up his playbook as much as they could have based on practices leading up to the game and that’s a function of how effective Case was. There’s much more available in the Ash package and the little play-action off the zone read is just the tip of the iceberg. They really kept their powder dry there I’m told. There was a lot more available for Ash in this game, and his role should continue to expand as he continues to get reps.
Overall, despite people ignoring what Harsin says about playing with two QB’s, they really feel like there’s a comfort level with running these two kids in and out of the game. Most of the game plan is centered on the running game anyway.
JS: And what about the defensive stars in this game?
BC: Coach Akina beams about kids like Byndom, Phillips and Diggs, but he thinks Vaccaro is starting to take the next step as the leader in the secondary. Gideon also had a really nice day making some impact plays.
JS: What about the front 7? The Asset told us that Desmond Jackson would play some in the 5-tech in their odd fronts and it looked like he had a handful of snaps there. Are you hearing anything else about the front 7?
BC: Yes, I saw Jackson play there and even get some pressure. I think Kheeston had a sack as an end in one of Manny’s crazy blitzes. I’m told they're fired up with their rotation along the Dline and their ability to mix and match skillsets. The one thing my friend told me was that they’re still not getting the right run fits and it’s costing them some explosive plays on the ground.
The good news is that they’re not getting blown off the ball, they’re just not aligned right in some looks. I think they’ll get that corrected. I’m also told you’ll see more Edmond in the coming weeks as we go against more run oriented attacks.
JS: Anything else you want to add?
BC: I continue to laugh at all the surprised chatter with respect to OU and realignment. I told you to watch for Boren taking the lead on this issue, and the instability it would cause. Of course the Okies called bullshit, so now it’s good to get a laugh at their expense. Boren is under tremendous pressure to not appear to be Texas’ little brother and this pressure caused him to run his mouth which ended up making the whole school look foolish. I’m told the California schools had a mild revolt at the thought of taking OU and OSU to begin with. Boren should have continued to let Joe C do the talking and back-channel partnering with Texas. The partnership was going to lead to some really cool things for both schools but Boren has probably spent all of that goodwill.
Now not only do the Okies have no place to go, but their relationship with Texas is strained when it didn’t have to be.
As for Texas, they’re partnered with Notre Dame long term now, when OU should have been part of the equation. Short term, the Longhorn strategy is to hold the Big 12 together until LHN gets established and then go superconference. If another Big 12 school goes loony and blows the thing up, then B1G is a likely option with indie in football close behind as the other sports join the ACC. I’ve been told the groundwork for both scenarios has already been done. We have a lot of options and are as confident as ever. We just need one major carrier to grab the LHN and we can write our own ticket if we couldn't already.