Red River features quick-start offenses Print
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Tuesday, 07 October 2008 11:38
NCAAF Headline News

 NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - The Red River Rivalry has all the pageantry of one of college football's greatest games, with a stadium filled to the rim with half the fans in crimson and the others in burnt orange. Big Tex will be there, along with the marching bands and the Golden Hat Trophy.
Maybe they should install starting blocks, too.
The team that has scored first has won the last five Oklahoma-Texas games and seven of the last eight, and both teams have shown early dominance on their way to the top five this season.
The top-ranked Sooners (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) have taken control immediately in every game, outscoring opponents 103-3 in the first quarter and never trailing. Not only has Oklahoma scored on all five of its opening possessions, the defense is playing a part, too.
In the three games when the Sooners' opponents got the ball first, each one went three-and-out.
score on their first series, I think that just takes the life out of you,'' cornerback Dominique Franks said Tuesday. ``You're already like, `Man, what did we just get ourselves into?'''
The classic case played out last week, when Oklahoma stopped Baylor on its first possession and then got a 53-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Manuel Johnson on its third play from scrimmage. It was 7-0 in the first 70 seconds and 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.
``It sets the tone and it shouts something out that we're ready to play. If you're not, I think that's what happens - 28-0 - because we're going to try to play every week as soon as the kickoff,'' receiver Juaquin Iglesias said.
No. 5 Texas has done its part in staying out of those situations. The Longhorns (5-0, 1-0) hold a 52-9 first-quarter scoring edge and, more impressively, a 132-29 mark in the first half. They've only trailed for 63 seconds, when Rice hit a field goal for a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
``Oklahoma has done the best job in the country at quick starts. If I hadn't seen theirs, I'd have thought ours was really good,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he couldn't explain the fast starts, except to say that his team has been focused and ready to play. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson thinks the Sooners' new no-huddle approach may have something to do with it.
o use a flexible lineup in which Jermaine Gresham can line up in his traditional tight end spot or out wide as a receiver. DeMarco Murray can do the same at running back or wide receiver, and several other Sooners aren't easily typecast either.
``I think the multiple formation looks is difficult to deal with because its different looks that come fast,'' Wilson said. ``I think the combination of the two makes it hard.''
Even Brown, who also deployed a no-huddle attack this season, has been impressed.
``The best thing they've done is they've taken those great players and with an up-tempo offense, they're really keeping pressure on the defense right now and they're making it really hard to substitute. You see in games where they're catching people with 12 on the field because they're trying to keep substitution groupings, so they've done a good job,'' Brown said.
``We've done a good job with the up-tempo. To me they've done a better job with it because they're relentless with snapping the ball quickly.
Wilson said he puts an emphasis on speed, telling players not to celebrate any big plays by gesturing to the crowd and making sure they give the ball to the officials after each play. That leaves even less time before it can be spotted again and snapped again.
Iglesias said. ``I think it's going to be hard for teams to adjust to our tempo, and I think that's one main thing we're trying to focus in on because it helps us a lot.''
The result has been a minimum of a 13-point first-quarter lead for the Sooners in each of their games, leaving opponents trying to rally against the nation's 11th-best defense (256 yards per game).
``I think it puts pressure on other offenses to maybe get out of what they really want to do. They feel pressed, maybe have to force a few more things, so it makes it easier on us,'' defensive end Auston English said.
To avoid that situation, Texas - which hasn't allowed a first-half touchdown in its last three games - will need to adjust quicker to Oklahoma's fast pace than the Sooners' first five opponents.
``You have to withstand the surge and we have to bring our own,'' Longhorns defensive end Brian Orakpo said. ``Football is a game of momentum.''
 

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