SMU looking to dent No. 18 Oklahoma’s defense


Without Oklahoma’s upcoming move to the SEC, SMU might not be headed to the ACC next season.

If the Sooners weren’t moving, Saturday’s matchup against the Mustangs wouldn’t be on the schedule.

Oklahoma was scheduled to host Georgia in the first game of what was to be a home-and-home series, but the Sooners’ conference move wiped out that series, and it was quickly replaced by a series against SMU.

The Mustangs (1-0) will visit No. 18 Oklahoma (1-0) on Saturday in Norman, and both teams are coming off decisive season-opening wins: The Sooners blasted Arkansas State 73-0 — outgaining the Red Wolves 642-208 — and the Mustangs handled Louisiana Tech 38-14 with a balanced offensive attack.

Oklahoma’s defense struggled last season, and while its remade unit certainly looked better in the opener, SMU’s offense figures to offer a stiffer challenge.

“They’ve got a couple of fast receivers, faster guys out wide and even in the slot,” Sooners cornerback Woodi Washington said. “We have to get hands on them and slow them down at the line. I feel like we can do a good job of making plays on them.”

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Ted Roof and SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee are plenty familiar with each other.

Roof was Auburn’s defensive coordinator when Lashlee was a graduate assistant for the Tigers from 2009-10.

Roof said his primary memory of Lashlee then was discussing their shared experience of raising twins.

“He’s a good coach, and he’s obviously had a great career,” Roof said. “But I certainly expected him to do that, and I saw it at a very young age. I’m happy for him and that I get to play against him this week.”

SMU offensive coordinator Casey Woods was also on that Auburn staff.

Both teams enter Saturday’s game feeling better about their wide receiver depth than a year ago.

The Sooners added Michigan transfer Andrel Anthony, who had three catches for 66 yards in the opener, as well as freshman Jaquaize Pettaway, who led Oklahoma with nine catches.

SMU added Jordan Hudson from TCU and Miami transfer Key’Shawn Smith, among others.

“I know on offense, I couldn’t have told you half the time I was calling plays what receivers were in, and a year ago, I knew exactly who was in,” Lashlee said. “Running back, same thing.”

SMU figures to challenge Roof’s run defense as well, after the Mustangs’ LJ Johnson Jr. ran for 128 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the win over Louisiana Tech.

“They go fast,” Roof said. “They hit you with a lot of different formations, a lot of different motions and also from a schematic standpoint, you know, a lot of variation in what they do.”

Oklahoma likes to turn up the tempo as well.

“We want to dictate how the game is played, for sure,” Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said. “There’s no doubt about that. We’ll continue to be us. We’ve got plenty to get better it, but it’ll be a heck of a challenge on Saturday.”

Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between the programs since 1995. The Sooners lead the all-time series 5-1-1.

–Field Level Media

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