OU football: Will the Sooners play more uptempo?
Dana Holgorsen always is a fun interview. He was that way as the OSU offensive coordinator in 2010, as the West Virginia head coach from 2011-18 and now as the University of Houston head coach this season. I chatted with Holgorsen after OU’s 49-31 victory over the Cougars on Sunday night, and I wrote about some of his comments for the Tuesday Oklahoman, which you can read here.
But Holgorsen had some other observations about the Sooners that were worth sharing:
* Holgorsen says he figured the Sooners might slow down the game getting quarterback Jalen Hurts adjusted to his new surroundings – and that’s exactly what happened. OU ran only 61 offensive plays.
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“I had a feeling they were going to kind of slow things down,” Holgorsen said. “Looked to me like they slowed things down a little bit and got him comfortable. He’s a smart kid. Coach’s kid. Got 30 games under his belt. He’s going to be able to see the field. You could tell he was seeing the field and he knew where to go with the ball. I would imagine the more he plays, the more uptempo stuff they’ll do with him.”
* Holgorsen saluted the OU crowd, which Lincoln Riley echoed on Tuesday.
“They once again played well,” Holgorsen said of the Sooners. “We knew we weren’t going to catch these guys sleeping. They’re a top five team, deservingly so. Well-coached, got really good players, great atmosphere out there. As good as anywhere in college football. We would have had to play a really good game in order to win this thing. Just really proud of the way the guys kept fighting. OU has a tendency to jump on people, and we kept fighting, kept playing.”
* The OU and UofH offenses were quite similar, which is only natural, since both Riley and Holgorsen come from the Mike Leach tree and were together for eight years at Texas Tech in the 2000s.
“We do a lot of the same stuff, honestly,” Holgorsen said. “We’re doing some zone read stuff, some keep stuff.” The options weren’t identical, of course, but “we come from the same background. Some of the plays look remarkably similar. The sets look similar.”
* Holgorsen was high on OU tailback Trey Sermon, who rushed 11 times for 91 yards.
“We knew they were going to run the ball more,” Holgorsen said. “Those backs are good; (No.) 4’s a beast. We knew they were going to run the ball, and they obviously did.”
* Holgorsen sees a bright future with new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
“OU defensively, you can tell they had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Holgorsen said. “They’ve been told how bad they were for a couple of years now. Coach Grinch has come in, he’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. What he got Washington State to do over the course of three or four years is pretty special. He’s going to do the same thing here. You can tell he got them ready to play. They were in position and they played hard.”
Houston punted on its first four possessions.
“We had to settle down a little bit and identify what their plan was,” Holgorsen said. “There’s no video to watch. I was tired of watching 2017 Washington State stuff. What’s their plan going to be? I don’t know. It was a little bit different than what we expected. What we did was probably a little different than what they expected.”
* Holgorsen on Hurts: “He executed really well. We knew he was a good runner. He looked to me like he was pretty comfortable back there. He was accurate. He made the throws. We didn’t pressure him very much, but looked to me like he was pretty accurate, made the throws and ran the offense pretty good.”