Oklahoma kicks off against the Aggies on Saturday night at 7.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- There's a certain amount
of adoration for the wishbone around the Sooner Nation,
considering the national championships it helped Oklahoma
win in decades past.
About the closest fans of the No. 5 Sooners (7-1,
3-1 Big 12) can get to the offensive philosophy these
days will come when Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2) brings
the nation's ninth-ranked rushing offense to Norman
"With their two running backs and quarterback back
there, you're really defending the wishbone," Oklahoma
coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday. "They just hide it in
acting like they're not running the wishbone. In the
end, they are. They're running the triple option, running
veer option principles."
Oklahoma knows the history of the wishbone as well
as anyone. Former coach Barry Switzer installed it
as the Sooners offensive coordinator in the early 1970s,
then used it to win national titles in 1974, 1975 and
Texas A&M's system isn't the one that Switzer
ran. Quarterback Stephen McGee lines up in the shotgun,
flanked by tailbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Michael Goodson,
with the option to keep the ball or give it to either
of the runners.
"When you run that type of offense, there's a significant
amount of time invested in reading it properly and
executing it properly," Stoops said. "A lot of people
suggest that we go back to it, and people think you
can just jump in it for two or three plays a game and
it just works. There's a major investment in reading
it and executing your pitch, pulling it and all the
reads that go along with it.
"There's a lot to it. There's a strong investment
in operating it efficiently."
In the age of wide-open passing offenses, it's uncommon
for teams to encounter a run game that averages 46.3
rushes per game. Only three Bowl Subdivision teams
have run the ball more frequently than the Aggies this
"It's kind of difficult but then again, you work
on it every week and it becomes easier throughout the
week with practice. You get used to it," Sooners defensive
end Alan Davis said.
"At first, you're like, `Wow! This option's coming
in' at the beginning of the week. But once you work
on it throughout the week, you get familiar with it."
With the Sooners coming off a bye week, they've
had even more time to prepare for the Aggies' unique
offense that gained 204 yards rushing in last season's
17-16 home loss to Oklahoma.
"That's all it is is just stay disciplined and trust
your keys, trust your footwork and your technique," Davis
said. "That'll put you in the right position every
Stoops praised his defense, which ranks third in
the nation against the run and 11th overall, for responding
against offenses ranging from the spread to more conventional
approaches. Opponents are averaging only 68.9 yards
rushing against Oklahoma.
"We feel we are versatile that way and can match
up with the different styles that are out there," Stoops
Stoops also cautioned that the Sooners can't forget
the play-action pass because the wishbone-like offense "isn't
all they do, it's part of what they do."
"A&M's going to throw the ball at you and then
they're going to run the ball at you with Jorvorskie
in third-down-and-short situations," Davis said. "We've
just got to be prepared and be versatile. When the
pass presents itself, we've got to go out there and
play the pass. When the run presents itself, we've
got to go out there and play the run."