Time again for Ask Hoover, my weekly blog where I answer your college football questions.
On tonight’s Franchise Drive (6-8 p.m. on 107.7 The Franchise in OKC, 107.9 The Franchise in Tulsa, online here (click the listen tab at the top of the page) and on the free Franchise app, we’ll pick the best question and examine it in depth.
Huge week for the Big 12 Conference, and a huge week for both in-state Big 12 teams, with OU starting league play at Iowa State (remember last year’s upset in Norman) and OSU hosting No. 17-ranked Boise State. Tulsa has a big game, too, trying to bounce back at home against former Sooner QB Justice Hansen and the Arkansas State Red Wolves after last week’s missed opportunity in Austin, Texas.
Let’s get to the questions:
So was TU’s result vs Texas a result of TU playing well, Texas playing poorly, or a combo of both? Is TU better than preseason predictions?
— Brandon Almeida (@TU_BLA) September 11, 2018
Yeah, except for the three missed field goals and two dropped touchdown passes, the Golden Hurricane played very well. Unfortunately, those were scoring plays. You can’t leave points on the board, especially when you go on the road as an underdog. Listen, Texas isn’t back. Texas isn’t any good this season, at all. The Longhorns lack elite big-play personnel, and are not dominant at the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball. Sure, Tulsa may surprise us a bit this season. But also consider the fact that last week might have been the Super Bowl for TU. Only one of the 53 Texans on the TU roster was even recruited by the Longhorns, and there are anti-Texas feelings throughout the Tulsa coaching staff. It’s possible the Golden Hurricane peaked at DKR.
From the Twitch chat (Twitch.TV/TheFranchiseLive): saramhill: What flavor will Gundy’s smoothie be this week?
Win or lose, if Mike Gundy doesn’t come to the postgame presser sucking on another smoothie, it’ll be a huge letdown. And if that smoothie is anything but vodka-flavored, I will have lost my faith in humanity.
Do you think it’ll be mainly Sermon now, or RB by committee?
— The Objective Homer (@SulphurSooner) September 11, 2018
I firmly believe Lincoln Riley when he says all those guys (Trey Sermon, Marcelias Sutton, Kennedy Brooks and T.J. Pledger) will get a shot. There may still be a tiny smidgen of hope that Pledger can redshirt, but only if one of the other three becomes a steadying force in the backfield. I think that could be Sermon, who had three starts and three 100-yard games as a true freshman last year. But if it’s not Sermon, OU will offer up a committee. Also, expect Kyler Murray to become just a little more involved in the running game.
— Patrick Balls (@JachPott) September 11, 2018
No rug. My man Gary is 100 percent real.
From Twitch: scott4mayor: #askjohn who will win the Boise State/OSU game, and why or how?
I’ve got the Broncos. They’re historically unfazed by playing a one-off Power 5 school, having won 15 of their last 23 in that situation since 2006 (yes, that includes the Fiesta Bowl against OU). But give me Brett Rypien and a good defense with 10 returning starters over Taylor Cornelius and an unsteady offensive line.
Thoughts on #BeardedStoops
— Harry Taylor (@HypeManHarry) September 11, 2018
I wish this Bob Stoops was the same Bob Stoops who coached the Sooners. Seems very cool, relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. Stoops relaxed a bit in his last 2-3 years, but didn’t come close to this level of chill.
@johnehoover do you feel like Coach Riley is going to give Kyler more of an opportunity to run at will to help take the pressure off the backs even though Austin Kendall is still recovering?
— 1-0 in FantasyFB (@KirtTheMan) September 11, 2018
I think Kyler always has the green light to scramble, and I think he’s smart enough to know when to avoid danger by sliding or going out of bounds. The question becomes how much does Riley purposely work Murray into running game? His read-option TD run last week looked embarrassingly easy, but imagine being a defensive coordinator telling his team on Monday or during the Friday walk-through, “watch out for the quarterback on the goal line.” What a nightmare. If defenses stack the box and dare Murray to throw, he can throw it just fine. But if it’s wet or windy and defenses stack the box with Anderson sidelined, Murray’s running will become an invaluable part of the offense. His deception and speed will be paramount to OU moving the chains. More than likely, it will be a week-to-week situation. That Kendall isn’t back yet (who knows when he will be?) certainly complicates Riley’s decision.
From Twitch: SirKyleLewis: #AskHoover your odds of Cornelius going all season without being yanked and backup(s) given meaningful snaps.
For my money, this is the question of the year for Oklahoma State. When the games get tough and the defenses get tougher, I don’t see Cornelius keeping the job. I hope I’m wrong. The kid has put in his time and paid his dues and he deserves to have some prolonged success. But while he has made some very nice plays and some big-league throws, much of the evidence I’ve seen through the first two games points to Mike Gundy giving Dru Brown a chance eventually.
What are the biggest keys for OSU if they are going to beat Boise State? #AskHoover
— Maurice Trice (@dukeboy100) September 11, 2018
Turnovers, of course. That’s always No. 1. The Cowboy defense has been exceptional the last 5-7 years in creating them. But if Taylor Cornelius is careless with the ball like he has been, things could get ugly. OSU’s special teams still aren’t any good, so expect field position (especially against a team with good special teams) to be huge. Generating a consistent pass rush on Brett Rypien would seem important, though he’s savvy enough to know what to do. All those things being equal, if the OSU offensive line doesn’t generate running lanes for the Cowboys’ talented backfield and reset the line of scrimmage, it’ll be a long day for the Cowboys. The o-line needs to be much better than it has been, particularly in short-yardage situations.
What are the chances the Cleveland Browns come after Bob Stoops OR Lincoln Riley once they fire Hue Jackson after week 6? It’s just a matter of time for Hue.
— Lincoln Riley’s Bacon (@LRsBacon) September 11, 2018
I’d put the odds at 80/20 they’d call Riley before they call Stoops. Riley’s offensive genius and his relationship with Mayfield isn’t lost on GM John Dorsey. And you can bet that Riley would have Mayfield’s endorsement. But you’re right, both men are in play. Stoops seems very content in retirement, especially now that Drake is getting to play at OU. Watching your son catch passes for the Sooners beats game planning for the Steelers or Ravens any day, wouldn’t you say?
Which QB would the Sooners rather see on Saturday? Zeb Noland, Kempt?
— Mark T (@ThomsonMark4) September 11, 2018
This is easy. Since Kempt outdueled Baker Mayfield and beat OU in Norman last year, it’s Noland. The Cyclones have played only one game so it’s a small sample size, but did you know Iowa State ranks 129th out of 129 FBS teams in total offense, according to the NCAA website? Having Kempt certainly would help that.
What’s the record for the most ACL tears for one team in one season? Oh and OU’s offensive line got zero push in run blocking at least in 1st half. (All I watched) why did they look average?
— the real white mamba (@kobydaleATC) September 11, 2018
I’ll see if any of my friends in the athletic training community know the answer to your first question, Koby. (OU might be getting close.) The second question may be just as impossible to answer. This is a big, strong, experienced group of blockers with arguably the best offensive line coach in the country. They had a freshman at center last week, and Creed Humphrey struggled to read things correctly on a handful of plays. So maybe this week Jonathan Alvarez gets a little more playing time. My guess is that this is a perfectly normal phenomenon. Lincoln Riley said this week that some of his recent offenses at OU, even with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, needed a few games to reach maximum efficiency, and he seemed to lay it mostly at the feet of the o-line.
Most # of medical red shirts granted to any player? What are the chances we see Rodney Anderson come back in 2019 as a Sooner?
— Mark T (@ThomsonMark4) September 11, 2018
Most medical redshirts: technically, two is the NCAA limit if the hardship is applied and granted. Other years lost to injury beyond two are not given back. I’d put the odds that Anderson returns to OU next year pretty low. I hope he leaves, I hope some team takes a flyer on his athletic ability, and I hope he gets paid handsomely for his skills and for his trouble.
John. This gonna sound wacky, but it would be a blast to post a “Mrs. Hoover” game summary. Short, but to the point….its nice to hear the perspective of a sane, but demanding fan…imho.
— Scott4Mayor (@scott_legate) September 11, 2018
This isn’t a college football question, but I like the way you think. I’ll talk to the bosses about it. All the bosses.
— Andrew W (@AndyCSooner) September 12, 2018
Haha, I get it. But would that be acknowledging that someone thinks they’re not? Like there’s some kind of dispute? There is no dispute that I know of, outside the east wall of Boone Pickens Stadium. Anyway, having the president skydive today with the Army Black Daggers, who will jump into the stadium Saturday with the game ball, is a pretty cool tribute.
Hey John. Did you know that the College Football Hall of Fame will be showing Oklahoma’s game on a 36 foot high definition video board this Saturday? Oklahoma fans in Atlanta should come out and watch! #AskHoover pic.twitter.com/iv5DLs5eeW
— CFB Hall of Fame (@cfbhall) September 12, 2018
This is amazing. So cool. If I were an OU fan living in the Atlanta area, I’d be organizing the biggest Sooner watch party east of the Mississippi. And if I were a college football fan (I am) spending any time at all in the ATL (I have), I’d make a half day to take a tour through the College Football Hall of Fame (I have). It’s incredible. The Hall has interactive displays in which you can punch up videos of every member, even Booker T. Washington coach and East Central University legend Brad Calip. Also, I made a 30-yard field goal. Right down the middle. Really.
It “seems” like targeting has lessened to a degree. Do you feel that the refs have loosened up on the targeting calls, we’ve just gotten used to them being called so much, or the players have adjusted? #askhoover
— Wally Schooley (@SchooleyWally) September 14, 2018
No doubt. College officials are returning to the median when it comes to a lot of these hits. When the rule was first enacted, you might see one or sometimes two DQs a game in a given week. Now, that’s become the exception. They’ve tweaked the rule and are using reviews with common sense. We’re seeing much the same in the NFL, where the new “helmet rule” drew a massive overreaction in the first couple weeks of the preseason but seems to have leveled out. It’s still there on both levels, and if guys abuse it, they’ll get penalized/ejected/fined. But at least officials don’t just hard-line it every time they think they see it.
How many of the true Freshman that have played for OU through 2 games do you expect to take advantage of the new rules and still redshirt this year? #AskHoover
— Clamdigger14 (@CamdenCoble) September 14, 2018
Great question. I don’t think even Lincoln Riley knows the answer to this one. It’ll change week-to-week, and he’ll play guys on a need basis. That said, with two blowouts in the first two games, don’t expect to see all the freshmen you’ve seen so far in the rest of the games. Now’s the time this equation becomes a challenge for Riley and his staff. He’ll want to keep some guys available for duty later, in case depth is needed in tight games. But, in an attempt to answer your question, here are the best freshman I’ve seen so far through two games who definitely will stay on the field all season: DB Brendan Radley-Hiles, DE Ronnie Perkins, WR Jaylon Robinson and LB DaShaun White. TE Brayden Willis, DB Miguel Edwards and RB T.J. Pledger have looked good, too. With Anderson’s injury, Pledger might be in line for a lot more duty.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.