Sooners prep for biggest game of season (so far)

Oklahoma is getting ready to play its biggest game of the season and three other things we learned from Monday’s Bob Stoops press conference.


1. Playing Tennessee is a bigger deal than playing Tulsa and Louisiana Tech

OK, so you might have known that and I might have known that and everyone else may have known it, too, but Monday, some of the players and coaches were actually saying it.

Yeah, shocking, I know. But refreshing to hear guys actually suggest it’s a big game, instead of rattling off lines about how every game is important. Here’s a sampling:

"Obviously, Tennessee has a great tradition," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "It gets your attention. It’s a night game on TV. Those are the things kids come to Oklahoma to play for."

"This is a game most people are going to sit down and watch," defensive end Geneo Grissom said. "It’s a lot more fun playing when the world is watching."

"We’ve kind of had this one circled for awhile," quarterback Trevor Knight said.

Tennessee comes in 2-0 having beat a pair of Mid-Majors in Utah State and Arkansas State. The Vols have finished below .500 the past four seasons.

2. Cornerback Zack Sanchez is expected to play

Sanchez, the Sooners’ preseason All-Big 12 selection left Saturday’s game against Tulsa with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. 

Monday, coach Bob Stoops said Sanchez will practice this week and will play against the Vols.

If Sanchez does play it will be good news for the Sooners. Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley has completed 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for 520 yards and five touchdowns through two games.

Sanchez has been outstanding this season. He has two interceptions and also blocked a field goal.

3. There has been an emphasis for the Sooners to start faster this season

Naturally, every team wants to score often, and preferably earlier in games, as opposed to later, but OU’s fast starts this season have been remarkable.

In its two wins this season, the Sooners have outscored their opponents 42-0 in the first quarter and 20-3 in the second quarter. 

Last season, through two games, OU outscored ULM and West Virginia by a combined 26-7 in the first half. Not exactly impressive.

Running back Keith Ford said that emphasis started in the offseason.

"Everything you do from workouts and running," Ford said. "The workouts were more intense. Just pushing each other and trying to be the best we can be."

4. Alex Ross is funny

The running game for the Sooners has been no joke this season as Samaje Perine, Ross and Ford have all rushed for more than 100 yards and all are averaging more than 4.8 per carry. 

Ford has four touchdowns, Ross has three, including an 82-yard run for a score against Tulsa, and Perine has a team-high 23 carries.

Meanwhile, Perine said Ross is a funny guy.

"Alex will play tricks on you. He’s a great guy and he likes to make jokes and you have to watch him," Perine said.

Ross showed up to visit with the media after the team’s win against Louisiana Tech wearing a short-sleeved, black, button-up shirt along with a black Fedora hat.

"That’s his style," Perine said. "He’s one of the few people who can pull it off."

But even Perine laughed when he said that.

"Nahh. I didn’t tell him (it looked good)," Perine said.

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK