The Oklahoma Sooners offense has played well in the red zone so far this season, scoring 75% of the time. Unfortunately for the Sooners, Notre Dame has been stingy on allowing red zone scoring, with only 21% of opponents making it across the plane. This is something that could prevent an issue for the Sooners and the highly-effective Belldozer package.
The Irish’s opponents have only scored 4 times in the last 19 red zone trips, which is outstanding. The Sooners short-yardage QB, Blake Bell will have his first test against the stout Irish line. Bell and the Belldozer package have accounted for 32 touchdowns in 33 red zone appearances, which is also outstanding. Seeing how both teams hold up is going to be interesting.
With Bell, FB Trey Millard, RB Damien Williams and the options QB Landry Jones has in the slot and outside, that stout defense may get a workout. Jones will need to stay consistent and virtually mistake free against this defense.
I’d look for the Sooners to run the hurry-up as often as possible, trying to wear down the Irish quickly and keep the defense on the field. If the game plan holds true to the last several weeks, the Sooners will have a good mix of both running and passing, focusing on the run game first. At the beginning of the season, the passing game was the go to option in the playbook. Once offensive coordinator Josh Heupel started getting some negativity for play-calling, things went back to smash and run Oklahoma football. Beating Notre Dame on the line of scrimmage, both sides of the ball, each and every time will be a key factor.
Irish nose guard Louis Nix had some interesting things to say when talking about what the defense needed to do in order to keep the Sooners at bay:
You get sick of being on the field so long. Something tells you, ‘Just get off.’ You get tired of it. You’re so tired, you’re ready to just go and sit on the bench and get some water. And these guys are trying to score. So you have to stop them in order to get some water. That’s the most important thing. You want water, you have to stop them. You just have to want the water. You want the water that bad, you’ll want to get off the field.
I think head coach Brian Kelly needs to get this guy some water. But all of Sooner Nation is hoping it will be when the defense is leaving the field, right after the Sooners score in the red zone.