John Hoover

Ask Hoover: On OU’s booze-to-defense ratio, horns down, O-line chemistry, the transfer portal … and Dana’s hair?

Ask Hoover: On OU’s booze-to-defense ratio, horns down, O-line chemistry, the transfer portal … and Dana’s hair?

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley hoists the Big 12 Conference championship trophy after beating Texas 39-27 in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

It’s college football season, and it’s Friday, so that means it’s time again for #AskHoover, my weekly Q&A blog where I answer your Twitter questions (send them to me @johnehoover).

Remember, we’ll answer the best ones on Friday’s Franchise Drive, which start at 6 p.m. on 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City and 107.9 The Franchise Tulsa.

Two of our three teams play tonight — Tulsa opens at Michigan State, and Oklahoma State is at Oregon State — and OU starts the 2019 on Sunday night against Houston.

We had a huge response for Week 1, so let’s get to the questions:

 

Brady, if the Sooner defense does relapse into its old ways and you do need to drown your sorrows, at least beginning this year you can do it at the stadium.

This paragraph is from an OU press release:

“Beer will be sold at portable stands throughout the stadium starting this season. Service will begin when gates open 2.5 hours prior to kickoff and will be discontinued at the conclusion of the third quarter. All guests must be 21 years of age to purchase an alcoholic beverage. A valid ID is required for purchase. There is a two alcoholic beverage limit, per person, per ID, per transaction. Alcohol is not permitted to leave the stadium gates.”

Cheers!

Mike, I’d set it at three and I’d take the under. Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks sounded pretty serious about it when he addressed it at Big 12 Media Days, then suddenly he began waffling. “It depends,” he said.

I’ll add that while Horns Down has always seemed the intellectual property of Oklahoma and Texas A&M, it certainly is becoming en vogue for other teams to do it. Maybe I’m wrong, but other than isolated incidents with Texas Tech, Baylor and maybe TCU, I don’t recall anyone else doing it before West Virginia was flagged for it last year. I don’t think it’s something teams outside of Texas are willing to risk a 15-yard penalty on.

 

That’s a lot to unpack, but here goes:

Bill Bedenbaugh says chemistry is one of the most important factors, and he said it’s going fine, although it seems he’s been hesitant to lavish praise. I think he’s cautiously optimistic.

I’ve heard LT Erik Swenson is the guy among the four newbies with the most NFL potential.

The freshmen WRs will alternate making big plays this year. Now, to peer into a crystal ball and say which will have the biggest impact is a challenge. But I’ll say it’s Jadon Haselwood. At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, he is physically the most prepared to stand up to college DBs.

And lastly, I was the most recent to ask Jalen how he’s grown as a football player and as a quarterback (and passer), and he clearly has grown tired of addressing that question. “I’m just trying to be the best version of myself,” he said. After four QB coaches and four offensive coordinators in three years at Alabama, I’m guessing he’s happy to be learning from Lincoln Riley, who’s as good as it gets.

 

Andy, all four are in the two-deep, so I’d say that part has gone really well. Of course, as they play, they’ll make mistakes — they’re freshmen. The question becomes how long do Dennis Simmons, Cale Gundy and Lincoln Riley stay with them through the mistakes? Freshmen are so advanced now — CeeDee Lamb says they’re all more advanced than he was, and he had 807 yards his freshman season — that they’re mentally caught up. They just need game reps. How many do they get? Impossible to say, but I’ll guess: 10-20 per game at first. That will change, up or down, depending on how they perform.

 

Nicholas, you are hitting upon the questions that coaches, athletic directors and probably even some NCAA administrators want answered. One full year into the transfer portal, it’s just impossible to answer. Kids today (and their parents, etc.) are impatient, so if the prospect of actually playing seems a few years away, he certainly has more options now. You’d have to somehow paint the picture that football is a physical sport and injuries happen and hey, you’re one snap away from moving up the depth chart. You’d also need to illustrate a recent history, somewhere in your program, of guys being patient, finally getting their chance and doing well in the NFL. The Curtis Lofton example comes to mind. Last year’s offensive line is another one. Obo Okoronkwo is another. Blake Bell’s quarterback dream didn’t work out, but he’s in the NFL as a tight end. Same with Lane Johnson. That kind of thing.

 

I’d say 30. But if you ask Alex Grinch, he’ll give you a different answer.

 

It’s called “Inside OU,” and you can find it on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s usually 40-60 minutes of me, Rufus Alexander and Brady Trantham talking nothing but OU football. Here are some links to get you started:

On iTunes

On Spotify

On SoundCloud:

 

Harry, not being in the RB room, it’s hard to say. That topic didn’t come up in interviews much this preseason. But I know Kennedy’s teammates think a lot of him, and he comported himself well in his first interview after being suspended for a Title IX investigation. None of us know what happened, but he maintains his innocence and the investigation found he was not at fault. I don’t know about his leadership, but his teammates and coaches seem to have his back, for what it’s worth.

 

Ann, first off, everything about Texas is ratings generated. You chose the right word: hype. Now, they did beat the (bull)dog out of Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, and they won 10 games last year. They also beat a playoff-worthy OU team. Give them that. There are good players on that roster, and Tom Herman has accomplished a lot as a coach. Is Texas back — for real this time? We get a good look at the answer on Sept. 14 when they host LSU.

 

Fair question. And who’s to say they didn’t? It’s just that as of Week 1, Motley is the best option. As we’ve seen the last few years, that is subject to change once the Sooners get into the season. Freshman Woodi Washington is on the two-deep at safety, and true freshman Jaden Davis is on there as a cornerback. I’d expect early playing time for both of those guys.

 

I’m told DL Kenneth Mann is currently working through an injury that could keep him out for at least a few games.

 

Ryan Jones is a good player and has shown plenty of flashes, but all we’ve heard from DaShaun White — going back to last year and especially through Caleb Kelly’s injury — is that he’s the heir apparent. Kudos to Jones for inserting himself into that conversation, but the guess here, based on months of chatter, is that White eventually wins the job. Good problem to have, no?

 

I’ve thought about this and I’ve found no reason why releasing a depth chart on Thursday via Facebook is any different than releasing a depth chart on Monday via pregame notes. Nothing that Dana Holgorsen and his staff decide on Thursday or Friday will be impacted either way. Let’s be real. This is about the brand and about the best way to effectively market that brand. Ever since the Internet became a practical money-making tool, OU has been among the vanguard at promoting its brand. One of the absolute best in the entire country. That whole Facebook Live production was simply another piece of the property that OU got to show off on its terms — and hey, it looked great.

 

It’s a great question. One factor is OU doesn’t have that many defensive tackles that can be impact players over the course of 1) an entire game and 2) an entire season. Those kinds of 3-techniques are hard to find, and they’re even harder to convince to come to the Big 12.

This defense won’t be a traditional 3-4. Actually, those are hard to find these days, too. It’ll be a 3-3-5 that shifts to a 4-3, a 3-4, a 4-2-5 or whatever the situation calls for. Mike Stoops called it “multiple” but I think that was because he was hesitant to commit to one formation or another.

As it stands in Week 1, this defense looks traditionally undersized. But if things get nasty up front — the Texas game, for instance — expect one of those backup noseguards to come in to play tackle and one of those 265-pound “tackles” to slide out and play end. They’ll have to figure out what to do with the “rush linebacker” position (is Nik Bonitto or Jon-Michael Terry really going to come in and have an every-down impact?), and they may need to adjust things around if 5-9, 180-pound Bookie Radley-Hiles is going to play near the line of scrimmage.

 

Doug, it’s Lincoln. Have you seen Dana’s hair?

 

This is in regards to a tweet about Mike Gundy supposedly offering that he would continue to eschew the new redshirt rule, meaning he would typically be against playing freshmen in the four game window that allows them to keep their redshirt. The original tweet was quickly deleted. Zach, you’re right, the new redshirt rule benefits both players and coaches and really has no downside. To stand against it simply would be obtuse.

 

Brett, that’s a hard question because the guys who were injured a lot almost never were allowed to come into the interview room so we never got to know them very much. One that stands out was Ryan Reynolds. Five-star LB from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas who had all the potential in the world to become the next Rocky Calmus but never really got 100 percent healthy. When he played and was healthy, he was great. His injury in the Cotton Bowl against Texas cost OU the game and, watching him sob real tears, was an absolute heartbreaker.

Rodney certainly fits in that mold, too, a likeable guy with immense talent who just couldn’t catch a break.

 

John Hoover
@JohnEHoover

John Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he was co-host of "Further Review" and "The Franchise Drive." Now he's The Franchise college football insider: Oklahoma's state Heisman rep, a voter in the FWAA Super 16 poll, an FWAA media access liaison, and a Big 12 writer at Sporting News and Lindy's preseason magazine. In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist and won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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