OU football: Austin Stogner, like Mark Andrews before him, is a matchup nightmare for Sooner opponents
NORMAN — Austin Stogner is the latest headache-inducing player for defensive coordinators who have to figure out a way to slow down OU’s offense.
Heading into Saturday’s game at TCU, the sophomore tight end/h-back/receiver is the Sooners’ leading receiver, a favorite target of Spencer Rattler and a pain for opponents trying to figure out how to slow him down.
He’s not quite Mark Andrews yet, the 2017 Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in college football, but he’s looking the part more and more.
“There’s definitely some similarities to Mark,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “Mark is a little bit faster. Stog is a little bit bigger. They are both very competitive and both very coachable and both presented tough matchups for people because of their combination of athleticism and size.”
Stogner’s size — at 6-foot-6, 262 pounds, an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than Andrews was listed during his final season at OU — gives Riley even more options, given Stogner’s hands and athleticism for his size.
Just look to overtime of the Texas game.
In the span of just a few plays, Stogner lined up off the line of scrimmage just outside of a tackle, at fullback, as a hand-in-the-dirt inline tight end and in the slot. Elsewhere in the game, he also lined up as an outside receiver at times.
Through four games, Stogner has 17 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown.
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Stogner was being recruited as Andrews was terrorizing Big 12 defenses with his versatility. Andrews wound up with 22 career touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards receiving and is now one of the best young tight ends in the NFL.
Andrews’ success in OU’s offense is a big reason why Stogner chose to sign with the Sooners.
“I looked at that a lot,” Stogner said. “I loved the way they used him. I felt like that fit my gameplay the most in the country so that’s why I came here.”
Luckily for Alex Grinch, he only has to deal with Stogner in practice and not when things really count.
“You try to evaluate in terms of, ‘OK, where do you have the advantage?'” Grinch said. “There’s very few instances where you do.
“The one thing with Stogner as much as anything is it’s not just saying, ‘OK, I’m taller than you.’ It’s the skillset in terms of when the ball’s in the air. That’s when it gets really unique.”
And it’s not just that Stogner can oftentimes be too big for a defensive back to handle or too quick for a linebacker or defensive end that makes him difficult.
With Stogner’s versatility — and with similar positional versatility for a player like Jeremiah Hall — the Sooners can keep the same players on the field but line up in a variety of ways.
Heading into the Red River Showdown, Longhorns coach Tom Herman said while quarterback play is the primary focus of why the Sooners’ offense has been so good under Riley, that players like Andrews, Stogner and Dimitri Flowers among others are just as important.
“I have always been fascinated by Oklahoma’s offense,” Herman said. “It really causes defenses fits when you have to play in a nickel personnel group because of all the space when they do flex out but you know the very next snap they can compress in and create a heavy formation that gives you problems as well.”