Scouting report

January 03, 2001|By Don Markus

Oklahoma rushing offense vs. Florida State rushing defense

Florida State

If the Sooners have a weakness, it's in their running game. Overall, Oklahoma averaged just 134.6 yards a game. Quentin Griffin led the Sooners with 783 yards on 189 carries and scored 16 touchdowns, but at 5 feet 6 and 190 pounds, he might be more effective as a receiver (45 catches, 406 yards) against the Seminoles. Florida State held its opponents to 73.9 yards a game rushing, second best in the country. The key for the Seminoles in this area is the play of their linebackers, led by former Dunbar star Tommy Polley.

Oklahoma pass offense vs. Florida State pass defense

Florida State

Senior quarterback Josh Heupel finished second to Florida State's Chris Weinke for the Heisman Trophy, so that should give him a little motivation going into the game. While Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said that the inflamed bursa sac in Heupel's left elbow didn't impact his performance, his numbers over the second half of the season were mediocre. The Sooners had five receivers with 30 or more receptions, but their best deep threat, Curtis Fagan, is a bit banged up. The Seminoles will likely sit back in a zone, as they did against Florida, when Tay Cody picked off two of his season total of six interceptions.

Florida State rushing offense vs. Oklahoma rushing defense

Oklahoma University

Much of the same things can be said on this side of the ball. The Seminoles averaged just 165 yards a game on the ground. Travis Minor led Florida State for the fourth straight year (76.9 yards), but has never lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school. The Sooners have surrendered only 108.2 yards, a pretty impressive stat in the Big 12. As a group, Oklahoma's linebackers might even be better than Florida State's, led by Butkus Award runner-up Rocky Calmus and Torrance Marshall, who might be his team's best pro prospect.

Florida State passing offense vs. Oklahoma passing defense

Florida State

This is the area in which the Seminoles could have a huge advantage, starting with a nearly 50-pound disparity between the offensive line for Florida State and the defensive line for the Sooners. It should allow Weinke plenty of time to set up in the pocket and find his receivers. Though the Seminoles won't have leading receiver Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, who was suspended for academic reasons, Anquan Boldin (41 catches for 664 yards and six touchdowns) and Atrews Bell (37 catches for 675 yards and 10 touchdowns) are both dangerous when they get the ball. The Sooners are pretty young in the defensive backfield, but sophomore strong safety Roy Williams is a future All-American.

Special teams

Oklahoma University

There isn't much to distinguish between Florida State punter Keith Cottrell (41.2-yard average) and Oklahoma's Jeff Ferguson (school-record 42.7 yards a punt). But Oklahoma's J. T. Thatcher is clearly the most dangerous punt returner (15.8 a return with two touchdowns). The Sooners had two punts returned for a touchdown, and the Sooners had one. Both teams are a little inconsistent with their place-kickers. Oklahoma's Tim Duncan made 13 of 21 field goals this season, while Florida State has replaced Matt Munyon (three of eight, including Wide Right III vs. Miami) with Brett Cimorelli (six of nine on field goals).

Key matchup

Florida State

While everyone is talking about the Weinke vs. Heupel showdown, they will not be on the field at the same time unless one suddenly decides to play both ways. The key head-to-head matchup will be between All-American defensive end and Lombardi Award winner Jamal Reynolds going against All-Big 12 offensive tackle Frank Romero. If Romero and his counterparts on Oklahoma's offensive line can get the team's running game going, it will allow Heupel more of a chance to find his receivers. Reynolds had 12 sacks this season.

Intangibles

EVEN

The most obvious sign of how this game will go should come in the first 10 minutes. Oklahoma comes in with a huge chip on its collective shoulder, brought on by the fact that the Sooners are still huge underdogs. The betting line might be down 1 1/2 points (11 in favor of the Seminoles), but Oklahoma wants to show that its 12-0 record isn't a fluke. The Sooners have been buoyed by blowout victories of Big 12 teams in the bowl games. They are clearly a team where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual talent. But the Seminoles might have too many parts and too much talent for emotion to play that big a factor.

Coaches

EVEN

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