Young Kansas defenders blossoming
Assistant football coaches spend so much time watching video of opponents that they tend to refer to players by numbers instead of names.
Oklahoma’s No. 36 is fullback Dimitri Flowers, a 6-foot-2, 247-pound senior from San Antonio.
A standout blocker and a strong short-yardage back (four rushing touchdowns), Flowers does his sneakiest work as a receiver. He has 20 receptions for four touchdowns and has averaged 17 yards a reception.
“They’re not a sit there, drop-back, throw-the-ball, offense,” Bowen said. “It’s a run offense. They’re really about a 50/50 run-pass. Each personnel grouping is maybe 60-40. (No.) 36 is the hidden weapon in the whole deal.”
“He’s the guy who’s in there blocking and mixing it up and then catching the pop pass,” Bowen said. “He’s the guy. It’s a lot more of a deception offense than people give them credit for in terms of the play-action pass and stuff they do off the run game. It’s not Baker Mayfield sitting in the pocket throwing a drop-back pass.It’s a lot more of a deceptive offense.”
Deception tore the Kansas defense apart early in the season when young players routinely bit on play-action fakes.
“Early in the year we struggled obviously with everything,” Bowen said. “Eye violations is what we call them. They can’t keep their eye on their target or they keep their eye on their target and they take it off. We’ve been able to steadily improve on that all year. We’re doing things now that we obviously didn’t do earlier in the year.”
Bowen used the Kansas State game as an example of the improvement in eye discipline.
“They’re the king of the fullback pop and they tried it four times against us and didn’t complete one,” Bowen said. “We covered it every time, which had that been the first three games of the year, we would have been 0 for 4 on it. In the Ohio game we were (0 for 4). I’m proud of our guys. They’ve stuck in there and they’ve continued to listen and they’ve continued to work and they have improved.”
Bowen illustrated his point about eye violations by discussing a play the Sooners use to free Flowers.
“You’ll have a defensive end in front of 36 and a safety over the top of him in whatever coverage, quarters, whatever it is, but (a safety is) responsible for 36 if 36 goes vertical. Well, 36 is going to block that defensive end for a count, it’s going to be hard play-action right at him and then 36 is going to slip down the middle of the field.
“A young safety will see the block and run down there like a madman thinking he’s got to fit the run and then he misses him. Whereas a veteran safety will creep down there, knowing he has time to make his fit, and he’ll see him slip and go.”
And the veteran safety will go with him.
“(No.) 36, has caught a lot of balls just on those type of deals alone,” Bowen said.
Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham is more worried about No. 31, edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, whom he called the Big 12's best defensive player.