A blowout win in its season opener gave Oklahoma the chance to fine-tune its new no-huddle offense. The first real test of the new scheme comes Saturday.
After rolling to a 55-point win in a mismatch last week, the fourth-ranked Sooners will face a much tougher opponent in Cincinnati, which is also coming off a big victory.
Using the new hurry-up pace, the Sooners raced out to a 50-point halftime lead and overwhelmed Chattanooga 57-2 last week. Sam Bradford threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns before being replaced in the second quarter by Joey Hazle - who was 14-of-16 for 122 yards with one score. Chris Brown had three rushing touchdowns and DeMarco Murray ran for 124 yards and two TDs.
Without the no-huddle last year, the Sooners led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 80 touchdowns and 592 points. After one game, it appears Oklahoma could eclipse those numbers.
“This is the first year we’ve made as much commitment to try to do it maybe all the time. We’ll see how it keeps going,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “It is a little bit like a fast break, but if you’re throwing the ball away when you’re (playing) fast-break basketball, you start slowing down.”
Oklahoma certainly didn’t. The Sooners found the end zone on their first seven possessions and outgained the Moccasins, from the Football Championship Subdivision, 487-36 for the game.
About the only thing able to stop Oklahoma was a thunderstorm that caused a lightning delay to extend halftime by 72 minutes.
“It’s game one. You keep it in perspective,” Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “There’s certainly things that you still don’t know about guys, but it’s off to a good start.”
While the Sooners are playing Cincinnati for the first time, they have made quick work of non-conference opponents at home since coach Bob Stoops took over in 1999. Oklahoma is 27-2 at Owen Field in such games, winning by an average of nearly 30 points.
Offensive tackle Phil Loadholt and wide receiver Ryan Broyles are expected to rejoin the Sooners after serving one-game suspensions, but former starting defensive end John Williams may not return for his final season.
Williams started three games last year before tearing his left Achilles’ tendon and missing the rest of the season. He was granted a waiver for a sixth season of eligibility in January because he had missed all but one game in 2005 after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in that opener.
Like the Sooners, Cincinnati was hardly tested in its first game, a 40-7 rout of Eastern Kentucky. The Bearcats held the Colonels to 195 total yards while racking up 557.
“They get a lot of notoriety on offense, but they’re going to be one of the better defensive teams we play,” Wilson said of Cincinnati.
The Bearcats’ Dustin Grutza threw for 296 yards and set a career high with three touchdown passes hours after Ben Mauk appealed to the NCAA for another season of eligibility. Grutza was the Bearcats’ starting quarterback in 2006, but Mauk, a transfer from Wake Forest, took over last season and helped lead Cincinnati to a 10-3 record and a win in PapaJohns.com Bowl.
Mauk was turned down Wednesday by the NCAA’s reinstatement committee, the last available step in his eligibility appeals process. It was the fifth time that he had been turned down by the NCAA staff or its reinstatement committee.
Stoops said it doesn’t matter who’s calling signals.
“We don’t prepare for any individuals,” Stoops said. “We just prepare for schemes and offenses, and you’re very aware of individuals, but I don’t see that they’re going to run a different offense with (Grutza).”