Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby knows a bit about Kent State’s offense.
“Yeah, you recognize some of it for sure,” Lebby said. “There’s some familiarity.”
There should be.
Golden Flashes head coach Sean Lewis was an offensive assistant coach under Dino Babers at Eastern Illinois in 2012-13. Babers had taken the job after four seasons at Baylor alongside Lebby.
Not only did Babers bring much of Baylor’s offense with him, but his staff also went to Baylor each offseason for professional development sessions.
On Saturday, the fast-paced offenses of Lebby and Lewis meet when No. 7 Oklahoma hosts Kent State in the first meeting between the programs.
“The staffs were helping one another so we could learn and go and play fast,” Lewis, who was coaching inside receivers and tight ends for Eastern Illinois, said. “So that’s where it all started. We’ve stayed in contact ever since then.”
Sooners defensive coordinator Ted Roof said going against Oklahoma’s offense every day in practice gives his group an advantage on Saturday.
“They go really, really fast. But so do our guys,” Roof said. “For teams that don’t do that, that’s almost impossible to simulate because if your guys don’t do it, the scout teams can’t do that if that’s not what they do on a daily basis.”
The teams had much different results in their openers.
Oklahoma (1-0) opened the season with a 45-13 win over UTEP last week, while Kent State fell 45-20 to Washington.
This week has been an adjustment for Sooners head coach Brent Venables, who took over for Lincoln Riley in the offseason and picked up his first win as a head coach.
“Sometimes when you have less time, that’s a good thing as a coach so you don’t overthink things. And so when you get into the season itself, you’re limited on the amount of time you have,” Venables said. “Everything’s just a little bit more condensed and a little bit more intentional.”
Lewis said the key to the fast-paced offenses both teams use is the quarterback position.
The Sooners have Dillon Gabriel, who transferred to Oklahoma from Central Florida after beginning his college career there with Lebby as his offensive coordinator.
“He just looks like the teacher in the classroom,” Sooners wide receiver Theo Wease said. “He looks so comfortable, just poised. You can tell he’s out there playing with a lot of confidence.”
The Golden Flashes (0-1) have redshirt junior Collin Schlee, who took over as the starter after playing sparingly prior to this season.
Schlee threw an interception on the first play of the game against Washington.
“I was really pleased with the way Collin leveled out,” Lewis said. “He settled into the game, made some explosive plays and really did some things within the confines of the offense where he wasn’t greedy and took what they gave him.”
The Golden Flashes have spent the week in Oklahoma, deciding to fly to Tulsa instead of heading back to Ohio after a late-night game on the West Coast.
“We want to put our guys in the best position to be successful,” Lewis said, noting that the Labor Day holiday gave them the opportunity to make the schedule work.
–Field Level Media
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