By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
Redshirt freshman quarterback Landry Jones will make his third start when 8th-ranked Oklahoma plays at Miami (Fla.) Saturday night. Sooners coach Bob Stoop announced Thursday that injured Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford has made progress but he's not ready to play.
"Sam has made daily progress, but we don't feel like he's quite where he needs to be yet," Stoops said. "Our team has a lot of confidence in Landry's ability and we're looking forward to going into the game with him at quarterback. Our approach will be the same that it has been in the last two games"
While Jones acquitted himself well in his last outing, throwing a school-record six touchdowns against Tulsa, asking him to win a prime-time game on the road against a ranked opponent would seem a bit much. That's where the Oklahoma defense enters the equation and overall game plan.
"Our goal every week as a defensive line is to be disruptive, get in the backfield, and make quarterbacks feel uncomfortable," senior defensive end Auston English said. "Those goals won't change this week. We need to continue to build on what we've started this year and hopefully do the same thing this week."
After losing to BYU, the Sooners recovered with back-to-back shutouts of Idaho State and Tulsa. With the offense in flux, OU's defense has been on a mission to live up their preseason hype as one of Stoops' best defensive units.
"Regardless of who is playing quarterback, we've wanted to be pretty good as a defense and we know our mindset," Oklahoma sophomore linebacker Travis Lewis said. "If they can give us a field goal, we think we can win any game."
Miami sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris has blossomed under first-year offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. The offense has a number of play makers and there is no featured running back or receiver. Harris, though, has been the key ingredient this season.
"Miami the last several years, they just needed a quarterback to be Miami," Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. "They've always had good skill kids; they just have not had consistent quarterback play. That's probably what's been their biggest difference this year from even the previous two or three years."
Virginia Tech sacked Harris three times as the Hokies won 31-7 in a monsoon. The Sooners' defense will hope to get the same disruptive pressure so the Hurricanes' offense doesn't find its rhythm.
All games Central Time
Kansas State vs. Iowa State
Need to know: 2 p.m., Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, Fox College Sports.
Records: Kansas State 2-2, Iowa State 3-1.
Scouting Kansas State: The Wildcats are coming off a feel-good 49-7 blasting of Tennessee Tech. Kansas State's offense is still a work in progress as junior running back Daniel Thomas (108 yards rushing per game) is the only reliable weapon. Junior quarterback Carson Coffman is slowly gaining confidence and if he can get the ball to play-making receiver Brandon Banks, the Wildcats' attack will improve.
Scouting Iowa State: The Cyclones' offensive line has done a good job of pass protection while the Kansas State defense has not produced pressure. Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud should have time to throw when necessary. The Cyclones, though, have been relying on junior running back Alexander Robinson (113 yards a game) and Arnaud to move the ball on the ground.
This and that: Iowa State is the home team in this neutral field game. … This is the first year of a two-year contract that will have the Cyclones and the Wildcats playing at Arrowhead Stadium. … A victory would give Iowa State a 4-1 start for the first time since 2002. … Kansas State has a 10-3 edge on the Cyclones in Big 12 play. … Wildcats coach Bill Snyder has a 13-4 record against Iowa State. … Kansas State is 10th nationally in total defense and ranks 13th in pass defense.
New Mexico at Texas Tech
Need to know: 2:30 pm., Jones AT&T Stadium, FSN.
Records: New Mexico 0-4, Texas Tech 2-2.
Scouting New Mexico: The Lobos have been, to put it kindly, awful. New Mexico is 119th (second-to-last) in scoring offense, 118th in total offense and 107th in defense. New Mexico's eight-game losing streak extends to last season. The defensive line has done a good job getting into opposing backfields and it needs to be especially disruptive in order to slow Texas Tech's attack.
Scouting Texas Tech: The Red Raiders need a bounce-back game after tough road losses at Texas and at Houston. Texas Tech's running game came alive in Saturday's 29-28 loss to the Cougars and if Baron Batch (114 yards, two touchdowns) keeps producing the offense will have another potent dimension.
This and that: Texas Tech senior offensive lineman Brandon Carter has been suspended indefinitely. … Red Raiders junior quarterback Taylor Potts leads the nation in passing. … Over his last nine games, New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie has just one touchdown pass (last week against New Mexico State) and eight interceptions. … Lobos' first-year coach Mike Locksley made headlines this week after he punched an assistant coach during a meeting. … Texas Tech leads the series 32-6-2 but New Mexico won the last meeting in 2004.
Kent State at Baylor
Need to know: 6 p.m., Floyd Casey Stadium, FSNSW.
Records: Kent State 2-2, Baylor 2-1.
Scouting Kent State: The Golden Flashes are coming off a Mid-American Conference victory over Miami (Ohio). Kent State had a strong ground attack and forced five turnovers and they'll need the same kind of performance to record back-to-back triumphs. The offense is relying on quarterback Giorgio Morgan, who is the top performer now that mighty mite running back Eugene Jarvis is out for the season.
Scouting Baylor: The Bears also are coping with the loss of quarterback Robert Griffin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last Saturday's victory. Senior Blake Szymanski was the starter in 2007 and is expected to replace Griffin. To compensate for Griffin's absence, the Bears need their ground game and defense to pick up the slack.
This and that: Baylor has scored a rushing touchdown in 15 consecutive games. … As a starter in 2007, Szymanski threw 22 touchdown passes. …The Bears are 19th nationally in pass efficiency defense and 20th in rushing defense. … Kent State has given up 34 points in each of its two losses. … One of those losses came to Iowa State. … Last week against Miami (Ohio), the Golden Flashes were outgained 552 total yards to 250.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas
Need to know: 6:30 p.m., Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, ESPN2.
Records: Texas A&M 3-0, Arkansas 1-2.
Scouting Texas A&M: The Aggies lead the nation in total offense as junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson has been highly effective. He's eighth in the nation in passing but is also a dangerous play maker on the run. Texas A&M's defense is relying on freshmen and sophomores but thus far has been aggressive and effective. The Aggies lead the nation with 14 sacks; they had 16 all of last season.
Scouting Arkansas: The Razorbacks are coming off a 35-7 loss at Alabama. The Razorbacks' only victory came against Division I-AA Missouri State and they've allowed 87 points in their two Southeastern Conference losses. Arkansas is 91st in total defense, 102nd in scoring defense and 107th in passing defense. Sophomore Ryan Mallett, a Texan who transferred from Michigan, is a strong-armed quarterback.
This and that: Arkansas will be the home team. … This is the second time a Big 12 team has played at the new Cowboys Stadium. Oklahoma opened the season against BYU on Sept. 5. … This game is called The Southwest Classic. It matches two teams from the old Southwest Conference. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series 38-24-3 but the Aggies won the last meeting, 13-3, on Nov. 16, 1991.
Oklahoma at Miami (Fla.)
Need to know: 7 p.m., Land Shark Stadium, ABC.
Records: Oklahoma 2-1, Miami 2-1.
Scouting Oklahoma: Quarterback Sam Bradford has practiced this week but coach Bob Stoops said on Tuesday that he couldn't be sure if Bradford would start until later in the week. Figure it to be a game-time decision. If not Bradford, redshirt freshman Landry Jones will get the call; all he did in his last start was set a school record with six TD passes. Eighth-ranked OU leads the nation in scoring defense and is fifth in total defense.
Scouting Miami: The 21st-ranked Hurricanes got their comeuppance at Virginia Tech Saturday, losing 31-7 in a monsoon. Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris can pick apart a defense if given time to throw. Miami has a number of players capable of making big plays. Graig Cooper is the top running back while LaRon Byrd is the top receiver. Through three games, the Hurricanes' defense has been average.
This and that: Oklahoma has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1987. The Sooners have gone 123 minutes, 3 seconds without allowing a point. … Miami allowed three sacks against Virginia Tech Saturday after allowing just one sack in the first two games. … Hurricanes safety Randy Phillips was injured in the Virginia Tech game and his playing status against OU is uncertain. ... 81 percent of the country will see this game; the rest of the nation will see ABC's coverage of the USC-Cal game.