By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — When Oklahoma’s 2010 schedule was released, the games against Florida State and Cincinnati drew the most attention. Those were the teams that carried national prestige.
But OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables was telling anyone within ear shot there was a third team that should put the fear into the Sooners.
He’d been watching film of Air Force’s 37-20 victory over Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.
“Those guys are good,” Venables said back in July. “They’re going to be tough.”
The tough comes from the offense and the shear amount of it the Falcons (2-0) will bring to Owen Field at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Air Force continues to be one of the few college teams left that has made the triple option the staple of its offense. But the Falcons run it out of a spread alignment and don’t huddle either.
Northwestern State and BYU didn’t have any success slowing it. Air Force crushed Northwestern State, 65-21, in its season opener. It will come to Owen Field after blasting BYU, 35-14, last Saturday.
It’s averaging an FBS best 423 rushing yards per game and more than 540 yards in total offense. Running backs Asher Clark and Jared Tew are both averaging more than 70 rushing yards a game. Quarterback Tim Jefferson has rushed for three touchdowns and thrown for three more in two games.
OU coach Bob Stoops said the toughest part of getting ready for the Falcons is what they do is so unique.
“You’re just dealing with an offense that you don’t see the rest of the year,” he said.
Throughout the preseason, OU finds common traits of future opponents and gears practices toward working against that. Air Force has nothing in common with any Big 12 Conference foes or anyone else.
Venables said OU took a couple preseason practices and worked against the option, but time is limited. What happens in the days leading up to Saturday’s game will be critical.
“You have to match their discipline and carry out your assignments,” OU middle linebacker Tom Wort said following Monday’s practice. “If everyone does their assignments, we’ll be good.”
The Sooners might hold an athletic edge Saturday. Matching the discipline of men who showed enough of it to get into one of the prestigious United States Military Academies is a much tougher task.
OU isn’t taking anything lightly. The warning shots Venables has been firing since the preseason have been heard loud and clear.
After Monday’s practice, OU linebacker Travis Lewis said he felt like he’d just taken a grueling exam while having to run at the same time. The game’s still five days away and already he couldn’t wait for this week to be over.
“Give me Texas. Give me somebody else. I don’t want to play an option team,” he said. “I’m a traditional 4-3 linebacker. I want to play — not think. Against this team, you have to do both.”
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org