Guerin Emig: Andrel Anthony leads an OU receiving corps that should ring up big numbers against Tulsa’s overmatched secondary
There is history in place for Tulsa. Led by program legend Glenn Dobbs, the Golden Hurricane blanked Oklahoma 23-0 at TU’s Skelly Field Sept. 26, 1942. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. Snorter Luster’s Sooners went 3-5-2 that season and were shut out in four of their first five games. Can you imagine?
It takes some doing today. OU has since beaten TU in Tulsa by scores of 65-0 (Charles Thompson 105 yards and 3 touchdowns in less than a half in 1987), 37-0 (Quentin Griffin 237 yards in 2002), 62-21 (DeMarco Murray 3 TDs including an 81-yard kickoff return in 2007) and 52-7 (Sterling Shepard 177 yards receiving in 2014).
Don’t expect a close game Saturday afternoon at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Do enjoy the backdrop of former Bob Stoops staff cohorts Brent Venables and Kevin Wilson squaring off.
Venables on Wilson this week: “He’s one of my favorite people that I’ve worked with. A good friend and great dad and great husband. A dang good football coach. Tulsa’s lucky to have him. I see his players playing aggressively and playing confidently.”
Wilson on Venables a half hour later: “Right now he’s sitting in a room with players. He’s got a grease board with a thousand lines on it. You can’t see everything but he is blowing up and stopping plays because that’s what he does. He does it as well as anybody.”
The two head coaches are the main event in this one. Here’s the undercard…
One player — OU wide receiver Andrel Anthony: TU does not have the athletes to match up on the perimeter, something made plain in last week’s 43-10 loss at Washington. Husky wide receivers Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze combined for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns while dropping a handful of passes which would have pushed their totals much higher.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix still threw for 409 yards, a figure OU’s Dillon Gabriel should approach Saturday. Gabriel’s favorite outlet should be Anthony, the Sooners’ downfield threat against Arkansas State (a 45-yard catch on the game’s fourth play) and SMU (a 29-yard TD for OU’s longest catch of the evening).
Reflecting on Anthony after the season opener against Arky State, OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said: “I was very familiar with Andrel in my last stop (Ole Miss). I recruited him out of high school. So there was some familiarity there. And then when he got in the portal, I have some really close connections at Michigan (Anthony’s former school) and was able to reach out and talk to some people inside the building. They didn’t want to lose him. They loved him. Felt like he was going to be a starter for them. He wanted a scheme change, I think, as much as anything. Got on the phone and everything checked out.
“Knew he was going to be a guy that played with really good length and really good top end speed and that’s what we need.”
It’s not that TU needs, something that will be apparent Saturday.
One problem — Wilson must manage a culture, not just one game: Not that Wilson doesn’t want to be competitive this week. And not that TU won’t be. Those scores from previous OU-TU games in Tulsa? Saturday should look more like 37-0 than 65-0. Also, the Golden Hurricane will get on the board.
It’s just that TU’s first-year head coach sees things well beyond Saturday.
“They know it’s a great team. They know how good they are and historically always are,” Wilson said of his players’ approach to the Sooners. “I’m sure there’s going to be energy… It’s also about developing long-term as you’re starting the program and where you’re trying to get to… Make sure you’re getting the culture created as you’re building a program.”
Might be easier to create that culture if a coach shows his players competitive film as they move forward together. TU competed hard at Washington. A 43-10 defeat against that team is actually a respectable outcome.
So it would be against OU Saturday, which might have Wilson playing it more carefully than is his nature. He went for broke more often than he didn’t calling plays for Sam Bradford once upon a time. That can’t be the case this weekend against his former program.
One preposterous prediction — Robert Spears-Jennings gets on the board: A lot of talk this week about Booker T. Washington alum Gentry Williams being an OU captain for his homecoming Saturday. That’s a great story. Hopefully Williams has a great game.
Just don’t overlook OU safety and Broken Arrow alum Robert Spears-Jennings.
The Sooners’ world turned upside down at the end of last November when Lincoln Riley bolted for USC with a handful of OU assistants. One, secondary coach Roy Manning, accompanied interim OU head man Bob Stoops, on a recruiting visit to BA to see Spears-Jennings around that time. The youngster’s poised, loyal reaction to that visit earned him high praise from a Sooners fan base seeking reassurance.
Karma breaks Spears-Jennings’ way Saturday when he returns his first college interception 47 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
One pick: OU 48, TU 17