a gOOD aRTICLE:
By David Jones, Florida Today
OK. Everybody knows what Oklahoma's offense has done this season, rolling over opponents to earn a berth in the national championship game on Jan. 8 against Florida.
The top-ranked Sooners' 62-21 win against Missouri for the Big 12 title marked the fifth straight game in which Oklahoma scored more than 60 points, something last accomplished in college football in 1919. Oklahoma (12-1) leads the nation with an average of 54 points a game, the most since the 1944 Army team scored 56 points per contest. The Sooners also became the first team to score 700 points in a season in 104 years and sports Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford.
But it begs to ask, could the Sooners have scored 60 points in five straight games in the physically demanding Southeastern Conference where even the worst defense is at least statistically better than some of the best in the Big 12?
"It would have been hard because the teams in this league can play defense," Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said.
But could they have done it?
"It would have been hard," Strong responded twice to the same question, with only a smile as the hint to how he really feels.
If you're a Sooners fan, here's the scary numbers:
Eleven of 12 teams in the SEC rank in the top 38 nationally in total defense, including five of the top 15 (Florida is No. 9).
Texas is the top defense in the Big 12, ranking 50th nationally. Oklahoma is the next Big 12 defense on the national rankings at No. 65.
"They haven't played against us.. .. Nobody puts 60 points up on us," declared Florida defensive back Joe Haden.
Florida (12-1) has given up an average of 12.8 points per game this season. Oklahoma's defense leads the nation in turnover margin (plus-23), just ahead of No. 2 Florida (plus-22).
The Gators' players took it personal when Bradford beat out Tim Tebow for the Heisman Trophy. Text messages flew into Tebow's phone just minutes after he failed to win the award for the second year in a row. He isn't telling what those messages said. But others aren't as bashful.
Many of those came from Florida defense players. And their implication was simple: "We'll take care of this on Jan. 8."
Florida has quietly snarled that comparing Tebow's stats to Bradford's wasn't right. The Gators say that SEC teams play defense unlike anything Big 12 teams have seen this year.
"It's a challenge for them to come against us, honestly, because they haven't seen a defense like us," Haden said. "With the speed and the physical play and just knowing our assignments and just flying around. They probably played some good defenses, but our defense is definitely one of the top."
And, forget about all those fancy numbers, Haden said. Forget about predicting a 100-98 football game in Miami. He wants blood, guts and spit to determine the winner, not flash and dash.
"Whichever defense is going to step up, that's who most likely is going to come out on top," Haden promised.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Oklahoma's tempo could require a major adjustment, running off plays quickly before defenses get a chance to substitute.
How do you combat such a talented offense? It's really pretty simple, Strong said.
"It's going to be a case of where we've got to get off the field," Strong said. "We can't allow them to just move the ball, which we haven't done all year. We've got to get off the field. We've got to get them on first down, second down and third down and just get off the field."
But Strong isn't selling Oklahoma short. Not at all.
"It's as good an offense as we've faced," he said. "They have put up good numbers. You look at the last five games, 60-plus points and then the game before that is 58. So it's going to be a good challenge for us.. .. You hope it never happens to you, so we'll see what happens."
Having a month to prepare helps. By game time, Florida's coaches and players will have seen virtually every Sooner offensive play a dozen or more times.
"I don't think anyone has ever scored 60 (against teams he coached) but there have been some times when they were getting close," joked secondary coach Chuck Heater. "That's why I've been fired so many times. It would be an awful Saturday, or in this case Thursday or whatever day it is. But they are obviously doing it to a lot of good teams.
"You've got to out-execute them. There are times where they are going to know where you are and you've got to cover them and get in your gaps. You've got to out-execute them ultimately. You've got to tackle them.. .. Most bad days on defense are the result of bad tackling. We've got to tackle well, that's for sure."
The speed at which Oklahoma attacks is a concern to Heater. The Sooners also caused another interesting issue. The way their games are taped by their video crews, it's hard for opponents to get a good read on where and how they attack from.
"Their video guy does a good job of cutting it off so you can't see it very good so you've got to go to TV copy," Heater said. "On TV copy you can really see the pace of it and how they gain advantages and how they snap the ball. So TV copy is really a better way of getting the feel for the pace of it."
Defensive line coach Dan McCarney was the head coach at Iowa State 1995-2006. So he's familiar with the Big 12. He feels the defenses aren't that bad. It's just that the offenses are awfully good. He was a victim to a humbling by Nebraska while in that league.
The '95 team that beat Florida 62-24 humbled his own club during the regular season, so he knows not to take the Big 12 offenses lightly.
"They may have tagged us for 70," McCarney said.
How does such a beating feeling like?
"Demoralizing, depressing," he said. "You feel like you've never coached a day in your life. And your heart goes out to the kids. Helpless is right. Your heart goes out to the kids because you know how hard they work."
Asked if he almost jumped out on the field in the middle of that 70-point game to tackle a Cornhusker racing for another touchdown, McCarney joked: "I think I did. I still have a dislocated finger because I tried to tackle somebody. Nobody on my team would."
Strong, McCarney and the rest of the staff won't suit up on Jan. 8. But they have heard all the talk about the incredible string of 60 points Oklahoma has going. The players at UF vow it won't happen this time.
But it is a scary thought. What if the Gators relive the nightmare of 1995 at the Fiesta Bowl, when Nebraska blew UF out of Sun Devil Stadium?
Strong, at the time an assistant at Notre Dame, watched the game on TV and confesses the Gators lost to an awfully good offense.
"I think that what happened, too, it was just the preparation," Strong said. "I don't think Florida was ready to play and then Nebraska came out and played so well. They were just ticking and that night they played very well. You just hope it never happens to you."