While Malcolm Rodriguez might be one of the surest tacklers in all of college football, Devin Harper might be one of the hardest hitting.
Rodriguez ranks second in the Big 12 with 96 total tackles (8.73 per game), and Harper ranks 13th with 70 (6.36).
They’re smart, savvy, athletic and aggressive and give Oklahoma State one of the nation’s top linebacker tandems.
Harper also ranks 12th with 3.5 quarterback sacks and is tied for third with two fumble recoveries, and Rodriguez ranks 11th with 10 tackles for loss, is tied for fourth with three forced fumbles and is tied for third with two fumble recoveries.
With those kinds of playmakers chasing after him, Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams may have to have his best game of the year — not statistically, but between his ears.
“We need just a big stack of routine plays out of him,” Lincoln Riley said. “They certainly don't make that easy, but the more routine plays that he can make, then I think the big ones from him and from other players on our offense will come that way. Honestly, when he's done that, when we've done that as an offense, we've played pretty well.”
Staying disciplined with his pre-snap reads is vital. Being decisive when he drops back to pass is something he’s lacked in recent games.
Williams not knowing where to go with the football, being uncertain about which receiver is open, and being unwilling to break the pocket and take off running when no one is open will get the Sooners beat.
He needs to be more aggressive when it comes to scrambling on pass plays. And on the run-pass options or zone reads, he need to be a little more assertive about making the right read and keeping the ball more often.
Williams is immensely gifted as a runner. Lately, he’s been reluctant to do that, even when the opportunity was there.
Riley said as long as Williams and his teammates aren’t making catastrophic mistakes, he expects the OU offense to make plays.
“We don't need to give them any gimmes, any big negative plays,” Riley said, “and I think if we do that, we'll have a chance to make our fair share.”