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Army v. Oklahoma Q&A with Crimson and Cream Machine

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oklahoma vs Georgia Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Lane Kiffin nor Chip Kelly has been able to solve Oklahoma this season. To help us with that we turned to Crimson and Cream Machine Editor-in-Chief Jack Shields.

Oklahoma has struggled getting their defense on the same level as their offense in recent years. How much of this is tied to stoops or is this about not getting the right talent in the program on that side of the ball.

There are a few factors at play (one of which has been coaching on that side), but the level of defensive recruiting is finally on the up-and-up, and you’re starting to finally see the results. Due to the gradual upgrade in defensive talent over the last two cycles, Mike Stoops is more trusting and is therefore much more willing to be aggressive.

Baker Mayfield was an incredible talent, and he’s proven that in just a few quarters in the NFL, but what is it about Kyler Murray that has made the transition so smooth?

The biggest question about Murray had little to do with talent, but with his ability to be the type of leader this offense needed. He checked off that box against Iowa State, as he is truly looking like a poised field general at this point. Then there’s the talent, which has never really been in doubt. He’s short, but he has a huge arm, can scramble/improvise and – as crazy as it might sounds – might throw a better deep ball than his predecessor. Additionally, he’s a legit 4.4 guy who introduces a new element with designed runs. From a mental standpoint, he’s also more than up to the task.

There also was no dropoff from Stoops to Lincoln Riley. How much of that is Riley, and how much is it just getting out of the way of the machine Stoops built?

Bob Stoops obviously laid a great foundation, but some of the organizational and day-to-day tweaks Riley has made (particularly in the area of recruiting) have yielded positive results. Bob’s imprint will always be there, but Riley has made this program his own, and fans are please with everything from his social media presence to the program’s recruiting momentum. As far as in-game changes, Riley no longer has to answer for his play calling, and we’ve seen him take a few more risks since becoming the head coach.

With Rodney Anderson out for the season. He looked to be the feature back, but Trey Sermon looks to have filled that role well. Was this anticipated? And who is the next man up whenever Sermon needs a break.

Well, Anderson was a do-it-all home-run threat who had the capability of turning a short gain into a TD. Sermon is powerful and well-rounded, but patience is his forte. He’s not typically going to break the big one, and that’s one thing this offense appears to lack right now from its backs. After Sermon is Marcelias Sutton who is an explosive, straight-line runner with good burst and balance. Then you have redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks and true freshman TJ Pledger, both of whom have a ton of potential and could break out as the season progresses.

CeeDee Lamb seems too big for a typical possession receiver, but he has some of the best hands on the team and he’s been a great outlet for a quarterback without a ton of experience. Just how good can he be?

Oh, he definitely has first-round potential. The guy is dangerous in every area of the field. The dude can leap with the best of them and, as you said, his hands are remarkable. He’s also a superb route-runner and is much faster than some may realize. There’s a reason he was one of the top-ranked receiver in Texas coming out of high school, and he’s surpassed his original billing.

Kenneth Murray is a big, physical player that looks like he would fit in on a roster in Tuscaloosa. How has his progression from freshman to sophomore shaped the Oklahoma defense this season?

Murray, who obviously had some growing pains after being thrust into the starting MIKE LB role as a true freshman, is really coming into his own in 2018. His gap discipline is much cleaner, and he’s always been more than capable from a physical standpoint. He’s someone NFL scouts are going to be heavily analyzing over the next year or two. If he keeps improving at this rate, I could definitely see him getting a high draft grade and leaving after the 2019 season.

For the fans and families traveling in town looking for the best food or drink Norman has to offer, where should they visit?

A lot of fans will actually be staying in OKC (which is a growing community with a ton of options), but Norman punches well above its weight. My favorite place for drunk food on Campus Corner (just north of campus) is Diamond Dawgs, which has a Cap’n Crunch-battered corndog. The Porch is also a new addition to the corner, and it has good food and a fantastic patio deck. For a full guide, check out this thing I made for Ohio State fans two years ago. A couple notable changes:

Lindsey Street tailgating is no more because our previous president thought it was a good idea to build luxury student housing – which is currently at around 28 percent capacity – in that area. You’d be better off going to Campus Corner or the areas east or west of the stadium.

Also, the 3.2 domestic beer thing is still in existence, but only until Oct. 1. If domestic beer is usually your thing, you might want to plan accordingly.

Forecasting a game two years out is tough, but who is one player you’ve seen so far in his freshman or sophomore campaign you could see making a huge impact for the Sooners when the visit Michie Stadium in 2020?

Unfortunately, it’s starting to look like the location of the game could potentially change. At any rate, Bookie Radley-Hiles would perhaps be the primary name to know. OU’s versatile and diminutive five-star freshman is loaded with big-play potential, and although he hasn’t created a turnover through three games, he’s always a threat to do so. OLB Jalen Redmond, who is redshirting in 2018 due to some blood-clot issues, could be a terror on the edge at that point in time. Offensively, TJ Pledger could potentially be that guy, but I’m going I’m going to throw you a bit of a curveball here by telling you to keep an eye on the 2019 skill-position commits. At this point, OU’s 2019 class includes the No. 1 QB (Spencer Rattler, the Nos. 3, 10 and 13 WRs (Theo Wease, Trejan Bridges and Arjei Henderson), the No. 2 TE (Austin Stogner) and an underrated four-star RB in Marcus Major. I would expect some of those dudes to be stars by that point.

**Editors Note: Please sort this out and play at Michie. Not in lifeless Yankee Stadium**

OU ranks in the top 25 of defensive marginal efficiency on rushing, but so far has faced an up tempo FAU team and an Iowa State team that leans towards the pass as well. What do you expect from the Oklahoma defensive front this weekend against a triple option team like Army?

It’s difficult to say, because OU hasn’t faced a true triple-option in years. In 2017, they faced a Tulane squad that has a lot of similar option principles, and the Green Wave was able to pick up chunks of yardage early before the defense got a hang of things. The middle linebackers are the crucial element here, and gap discipline is much better than it was at this time last season. The defensive line is much better as a whole. Having said that, I’d expect this group to perhaps experience some hiccups in the early going.