In our first installment of Boomer Bytes on the year, we take a look at Oklahoma’s home conference opener against Kansas State. Both teams were off last weekend. But, the Sooners and Wildcats come into this game on different trajectories. Oklahoma cruised to a 48-0 victory over FCS Missouri State. However, the Wildcats were shocked at home against Arkansas State, 35-31. We’ll examine five questions that could impact this game as we break down Boomer Bytes previewing the Kansas State matchup.
Boomer Bytes: Kansas State Edition
Which revenge is sweeter?
The Sooners and the Wildcats have revenge on their mind this weekend. Arguably, Oklahoma played its worst game of the season last year in Manhattan. Kansas State enjoyed a 25-point fourth-quarter lead. Even though Oklahoma cut it to seven points late, the game was not as close as the score indicated. Skylar Thompson ran for four touchdowns in the game and had 250 yards of total offense. If Oklahoma is able to get revenge over the Wildcats on Saturday, the Sooners will have to limit Thompson and the Wildcat running game.
Kansas State is looking for revenge of sorts as well on Saturday. But, this is mainly in terms of coming back from their abysmal performance against Arkansas State. The Wildcats were dominated in every facet of the game by Arkansas State. A secondary that gave up over 300 yards and five touchdowns through the air could be ripe for the picking for Oklahoma. However, with two weeks to prepare, the Sooners should expect a much different Kansas State team on Saturday.
Who’s offensive line will win the battle at the line of scrimmage?
The bread and butter for the Kansas State offense is the power running game and the zone read with Thompson off of that. But, that was never able to get going against the Red Wolves. Kansas State was only able to muster 91 yards on the ground through 2.3 yards per carry. Comparatively, the Sooners were not much better with 124 yards and 3.5 yards per rush. It was clear that Riley wanted to see what the passing game could do as Oklahoma was heavy through the air in the first half. Both teams will need to solidify their offensive line play in this game to be effective.
How does Spencer Rattler play in his biggest game?
Rattler was nearly flawless in the opener. That was somewhat to be expected based on the skill level of the opponent. But, Rattler with 14 for 17 with 290 yards and four touchdowns in a half of play. Important to note, that two of three incompletions were drops. If you were to nitpick anything from his performance, it would be that his pocket presence was a little lacking. The Redshirt-Freshman took a couple of sacks while holding on to the ball a little later than he should have. With the defensive skill much high this week against the Wildcats, one cane assume that Riley and Rattler have talked about this. Having said that, the accuracy and arm talent could be better than Rattler’s predecessors. But, it will be interesting to see how he performs against a Big 12 defense.
Who’s actually going to play?
Now, this could certainly be a question that gets asked each and every week in the year that College Football and COVID must co-exist. It’s inconceivable, but a reality that each week rosters may look quite different than the week before. The Sooners had around 19 players that were unavailable due to COVID positives or contact tracing. And, it was reported that the Wildcats had a similar number against Arkansas State. In fact, there was a period of time when it was unclear if the Sooners would even be able to play. Oklahoma had key members at each position unit, particularly on the offensive line out. A big key to this game will be who is actually able to survive COVID protocol and be on the field.
Is the running back competition settled?
In our last question in this weeks Boomer Bytes, we take a look at an unsettled running back room. The Sooners knew that there would be uncertainty at the position with Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks gone from the team and T.J. Pledger out due to COVID protocol. With that, Oklahoma was down to a couple of scholarship players in Marcus Major and Seth McGowan. Major got the start, but McGowan was the story. McGowan had nine carries for 61 yards and a score and also scored on a 37-yard touchdown reception.
One has to figure that at the very least that McGowan and Major are flipped on the depth chart this week. Assuming Pledger is back, expect him to get the starting nod with McGowan getting some work in at about 12-15 touches. The development of these young running backs will be critical until Rhamondre Stevenson returns from his suspension in four games.