COLUMN: Fiesta Bowl will be Heupel’s time to show what he’s got
The Sooner offense will look a little different Saturday than it did the rest of the season. With former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson at Indiana and freshman running back Roy Finch out with an ankle injury, the scoring attack will have to adapt.
Wilson’s play calling has been passed to quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell also was promoted with Heupel as a co-offensive coordinator.
As with any coordinator change, the new guy wants to maintain what’s worked so far, but he also wants to leave his own mark on the way the offense runs.
For Heupel, the Fiesta Bowl will be a crucial first impression — his chance to show if he’ll be as good calling the plays as he was running them a decade ago.
The Finch injury also will have a big impact on the look of the offense. This team’s yards-per-rush average (3.35) is the lowest since 1938, when the Sooners managed just 2.97 yards per carry.
With the running game already struggling, losing a key weapon will only force the Sooners to go to the air more often than they already have. Also, don’t expect to see much of the fancy new “backs” diamond formation, since Finch also was a critical piece in that formation’s success.
Still, more weight will be placed on senior running back DeMarco Murray, who will essentially be the sole proprietor of the rushing attack. Senior Mossis Madu and freshman Brennan Clay will get the chance to play larger roles backing up Murray, but the pressure still falls on the Sooners’ all-time leader in all-purpose yards to go out with a bang.
With Finch out, the Fiesta Bowl also will be a chance for Heupel and Norvell to show their abilities to make adjustments in a time crunch, prepare backups for bigger roles and be creative on game day.
OU sophomore quarterback Landry Jones will likely be called on to air it out much more often than hand it off. Heupel should look to score big and score quickly early in the game to build a comfortable lead over Connecticut before trying to establish the run.
Connecticut’s defense has held its opponents to just 19.8 points per game, well below what the Sooners have become accustomed to putting up on the board the last few seasons.
And because UConn holds a decisive special teams advantage over OU, the Fiesta Bowl could become a game of field position, which would put more pressure on Heupel and his offense to move the ball.
If OU wins, it will end the recent curse it’s had in the Fiesta Bowl and BCS bowls. If OU wins big, Heupel will fast-track himself to the top of the program’s “potential head coach replacements after Bob Stoops retires” list.
- Yes 100%
- No 0%
10 total votes.