Durron Neal

Oklahoma’s air-raid offense will take some getting used to

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Oklahoma is looking to open things up on offense a bit in 2015. The air-raid offensive philosophy figures to be a way for the Sooners to keep pace with evolving offenses throughout the Big 12, and new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Lincoln Riley was brought in to join Bob Stoops‘ staff for just that reason. If the Sooners’ spring game was any indication, it could be a slight work in progress, but it has potential.

The biggest concern for Oklahoma right now is having the right personnel in place to effectively thrive using the air-raid offense. This will take a short period of time to address and adjust through recruiting, but Oklahoma has some receivers that should fit in nicely this fall. The Sooners welcome back senior Sterling Shepard, but what about the rest of his supporting cast? Durron Neal is there, which is good news, but Oklahoma is hoping some new additions can have an impact as well.

Sophomore Jeff Mead had a good spring game, leading the Sooners with three catches for 93 yards. His god hands hauled in a one-handed catch deep downfield on a throw from quarterback Baker Mayfield. He should be in position to have a nice role in the offense that looks to stretch the field.

One name to keep a close eye on will be junior college transfer Dede Westbrook. He caught one pass for a gain of 28 yards in Oklahoma’s spring game, but could find a role in the offense by the time the fall starts up.

Oklahoma will get there. The receivers will eventually fit into the new system. Stoops and Riley will find a quarterback properly equipped for an air-raid style, and work with what they have now to get the most they can out of it. Can they get it together in 2015? Or is the future looking brighter in 2016 in Norman?

No. 14 Kansas State enters playoff conversation following win at No. 11 Oklahoma

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Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt was unable to get an extra point attempt off on a botched play that would have tied Kansas State in the fourth quarter, and he later missed a short 19-yard field goal that could have given the Sooners a win. As a result, No. 14 Kansas State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) remained perfect in Big 12 play after knocking off No. 11 Oklahoma (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) in Norman by a slim margin of 31-30.

Following the missed field goal try, Kansas State looked to kill the rest fo the clock after taking over with 3:53 to play. A pair of runs by Jake Waters followed by a complete pass to Curry Sexton did the trick. Oklahoma was forced to burn its final timeout and the Sooners were unable to get the ball back.

Kansas State allowed 544 yards of offense to Oklahoma, but Kansas State forced two turnovers and protected the ball on offense to help get out of town with the win. Waters had a huge impact on the game as well, completing 15 of 23 passes for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns and adding another 51 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to his stat line. Kansas State averaged 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, and the Wildcats were disciplined from start to finish. Kansas State was called for just two penalties in the game.

Oklahoma had chances to grab this one though. Questionable play calling hurt Oklahoma a couple of times inside the red zone. On a 3rd and goal from the one-yard line, Oklahoma ran a formation out of the shotgun with a delayed handoff. This proved costly on the final offensive possession the Sooners would have, as Kansas State broke through the line and stuffed the play. This was followed by the missed field goal. Earlier in the second half, Oklahoma got a little cute on a play that ended up with receiver Durron Neal being intercepted in the end zone.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight left the game in the first half, but he returned. He ended the day with three touchdowns thrown and 318 passing yards. Sterling Shepard was a monster in the receiving game with a game-high 197 receiving yards and a touchdown. His 15 receptions tied a school record for a single game.

This result could have a significant impact on the Big 12 moving forward as well. With two losses, Oklahoma could have a very difficult time getting back into the playoff conversation, and even the Big 12 could be difficult to grab now as well with losses to Kansas State and TCU. Kansas State is now 3-0 in the Big 12. At the time of this posting, Baylor was in some trouble at West Virginia as well, but with plenty of time to play. Kansas State could sneak into the top 10 of the polls on Sunday, but regardless of what happens it looks as though the Wildcats will start to receive some playoff contender recognition. The only loss this season was at home, but it was against Auburn.

Kansas State returns home next weekend to host the Texas Longhorns. The Wildcats have some more notable Big 12 games coming after that as well, with a home game against Oklahoma State and then a road game at TCU the following week before getting a bye week.

Oklahoma will be off next week, but the Sooners resume play on the road on November 1 at Iowa State. A still potentially pivotal home game against Baylor will be played the next week.