Stoops Sees Aggies' Prolific Run Game As Modern Wishbone
Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 2:34 pm
By: News On 6
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ There's a certain amount of adoration for the wishbone around the Sooner Nation, considering the national championships it helped Oklahoma win in decades past.
About the closest fans of the No. 5 Sooners (7-1, 3-1) can get to the offensive philosophy these days will come when Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2) brings the nation's ninth-ranked rushing offense to Norman on Saturday.
``With their two running backs and quarterback back there, you're really defending the wishbone,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. ``They just hide it in acting like they're not running the wishbone. In the end, they are. They're running the triple option, running veer option principles.''
Oklahoma knows the history of the wishbone as well as anyone. Former coach Barry Switzer installed it as the Sooners' offensive coordinator in the early 1970s, then used it to win national titles in 1974, 1975 and 1985.
Texas A&M's system isn't the one that Switzer ran. Quarterback Stephen McGee lines up in the shotgun, flanked by tailbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Michael Goodson, with the option to keep the ball or give it to either of the runners.
``When you run that type of offense, there's a significant amount of time invested in reading it properly and executing it properly,'' Stoops said. ``A lot of people suggest that we go back to it, and people think you can just jump in it for two or three plays a game and it just works. There's a major investment in reading it and executing your pitch, pulling it and all the reads that go along with it.â€
â€œThere's a lot to it. There's a strong investment in operating it efficiently,â€ said Stoops.
In the age of wide-open passing offenses, it's uncommon for teams to encounter a run game that averages 46.3 rushes per game. Only three Football Bowl Subdivision teams have run the ball more frequently than the Aggies this season.
``It's kind of difficult but then again, you work on it every week and it becomes easier throughout the week with practice. You get used to it,'' Sooners defensive end Alan Davis said.
``At first, you're like, `Wow! This option's coming in' at the beginning of the week. But once you work on it throughout the week, you get familiar with it.''
With the Sooners coming off a bye week, they've had even more time to prepare for the Aggies' unique offense that gained 204 yards rushing in last season's 17-16 home loss to Oklahoma.
``That's all it is, is just stay disciplined and trust your keys, trust your footwork and your technique,'' Davis said. ``That'll put you in the right position every time.''
Stoops praised his defense, which ranks third in the nation against the run and 11th overall, for responding against offenses ranging from the spread to more conventional approaches. Opponents are averaging only 68.9 yards rushing against Oklahoma.
``We feel we are versatile that way and can match up with the different styles that are out there,'' Stoops said.
Stoops also cautioned that the Sooners can't forget the play-action pass because the wishbone-like offense ``isn't all they do, it's part of what they do.''
``A&M's going to throw the ball at you and then they're going to run the ball at you with Jorvorskie in third-down-and-short situations,'' Davis said. ``We've just got to be prepared and be versatile. When the pass presents itself, we've got to go out there and play the pass. When the run presents itself, we've got to go out there and play the run.''