Oklahoma run defense to be tested vs. Kansas State
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma’s run defense got shredded by Texas and it will be tested again Saturday against Kansas State.
The Longhorns ran for 313 yards last Saturday in a 24-17 upset of the Sooners. It was the fifth-most yards rushing Oklahoma has allowed during the 17-year Bob Stoops era, and the most since Texas A&M piled up 326 in the Cotton Bowl after the 2012 season.
No. 19 Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) feels it has much to prove against Kansas State, which averages 205 yards rushing per game.
"It’s a statement game for us up front, and for the Big 12, period," Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper said. "They’re a great team. If we go out there and dominate them, we’ll show ourselves that we’re capable and we’ll show everybody else that that last game was just a fluke."
The Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) will try to bounce back from close losses to ranked opponents Oklahoma State and TCU.
"We were angry after that OSU loss because that was a tough loss coming down to the wire, and this one just adds fuel to the fire," Kansas State quarterback Joe Hubener said. "We are tired of losing these tough games because we know that we can play with anybody, and we showed that. TCU is a great team and we played right with them the whole game. We fully expect OU to come in here prepared, but we want this win."
Hubener has 224 yards rushing this season. He might be inclined to run more than usual after Texas quarterback Jarrod Heard ran for 115 yards on 21 carries against Oklahoma.
"It’s going to be a big part of the game this week, so you’ve just got to make sure that our defense is set where we can account more for the quarterback in the run game," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
Kansas State’s leading rusher, Justin Silmon, has gained 290 yards and averages 4.9 yards per carry. Charles Jones has added 162 yards and three touchdowns.
Kansas State averages 34 minutes of time of possession, eighth nationally, and the Wildcats possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes in last week’s 52-45 loss to TCU.
"It’ll be the same type of game," Stoops said. "They’ll want to keep the game close, they use clock. Trying to get the ball away from them is always a challenge. They were able to possess the ball and score 40 points the other night. They know what they’re doing."
The Sooners made numerous assignment and fundamental errors against Texas. They say better focus will cure their ills.
"We’ve just got to make sure we go into the game ready to tackle," Tapper said. "It wasn’t like we weren’t prepared. We were ready for the game. We played physical. We just have a lot of things we didn’t do as players like missed tackles and wrapping up and things like that."
Oklahoma believes it starts with better preparation.
"At the beginning of the week, you’ve got to come out with a fire," Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas said. "You’ve got to practice like you play. That’s a huge thing you hear around, and you never really think how much it holds its truth until you have a game like last week."