BG prepared for OU’s offense

Adam Hritzak and Adam Hritzak

Imagine what is going through the minds of Bowling Green football coaches as they prepare for this Saturday’s game against #2 Oklahoma. The Sooner defense is feared year in and year out around the country, but their offense has climbed the charts into elite status as they repeatedly ran up and down the field against opposing defenses last year, while scoring a school record 601 points.Somehow, these coaches have to find a way for the BG defense to penetrate the Sooner offensive line, which returns all five starters from last year and averages weighing 308 pounds (compared to the Falcon defensive line’s 257 pounds), cover one of the most explosive wide receivers in the nation in All-American favorite Mark Clayton, and oh yeah, shut down the passing game of reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jason White.It no doubt will be a difficult challenge for BG, but it is one that this defense will not back down from.”It’s an honor and a great thing for us to go out there and showcase our talent,” middle linebacker Jovon Burkes said. “Coming out of high school, you want to play against the best and be a part of the best, and here our opportunity is right now. They have a lot of preseason All-Americans on their team and it’s our opportunity to show we can fit in with them.”White (158.11 rating, 3,846 yards passing and 40 touchdown passes in ’03) was honored with the Heisman Trophy, but faltered in his last two starts, which raised many eyebrows around the nation about the selection. He will be out to prove those doubters wrong from the start, but BG will throw many different looks at him to throw off his game.”We’ll try to mix some stuff in,” BG head coach Gregg Brandon said. “If you bring pressure, a veteran guy like that will expose you and he’ll get the ball to the open guy. But, we can’t just sit and let him pick us apart because he did that all last year, so we have to mix some things in and try to keep him off balance as best we can.”Burkes said, “We’re going to give them a lot of different defensive looks – moving around, stemming around – before the snap. The offensive line won’t be able to read us as easy. One minute you might see three down lineman, one minute you might see four. Sometimes you migheven see a defensive end up as a linebacker.”Another key for the Falcon defense will be stopping the big play, which the Sooner offense thrives on, led by playmakers Clayton (83 receptions, 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns last season) and fellow receiver Brandon Jones (46, 709, 8). The reformed BG secondary will have its hands full all day, but must prevent these guys from getting past them.Brandon has put an emphasis on preventing Oklahoma from breaking free.”Sometimes you have to state the obvious… but we can’t give up big plays. They throw a five-yard hitch to a guy and he breaks five tackles and scores a touchdown. We’ve got to tackle and swarm.”Oklahoma’s high-flying offensive attack starts up front with the big guys on their O-line. Right tackle Jammal Brown and center Vince Carter are both candidates for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy, and Carter is also on the list for the Rimington Award. All five starters have a tremendous amount of experience as they have combined to start 129 games for the Sooners.”Their offensive line is dynamic,” Brandon said. “They’re really stout and do a tremendous job pass blocking.”Although their offensive line is big and strong, the Falcon defense knows they must find other ways to break down their line. “Those are some big guys, but we’ve been coached during two-a-days just to focus on not trying to run into 315 pound guys, but we have to focus on using our hands and being quicker than those guys,” Burkes said. “We can’t go head on with them, we have to beat them with speed and get their hands off of us as quick as possible.”The Falcon defense will be facing some of the top offensive talent in the nation, but then again, it’s BG’s chance to show they belong among the best.