LOS ANGELES ― Oklahoma has been watching a lot of film on Georgia and its quarterback, Jake Fromm. Sooners strong safety Steven Parker, therefore, has seen what those watching UGA all season have.
“He’s a gamer,” Parker said, using that term several times.
No comments from Parker about Fromm only being able to throw slant passes or that Georgia can’t pass. Oklahoma, which faces Georgia in the Rose Bowl on Monday, has learned the lesson that other SEC teams did the hard way.
“He can put the ball where only his receivers can catch it,” Parker said. “He’s probably going to be handing the ball the majority of the time with [their] run game. But he can cut you off with the play-action pass. That’s what Georgia does very well.”
What Georgia still does best is run the ball, as Parker added and Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops emphasized, when asked to break down the offense Oklahoma will face on Monday. But it’s not the only thing it does well.
“The biggest improvement I’ve seen is their offensive line, and they’ve been able to do [it] up front with those guys,” Stoops said. “And then giving those running backs a little bit of space. They don’t need much. Great players, you get them. They do a good job not letting you penetrate too much and giving those guys opportunities.”
But then Stoops mentioned who he thinks are the most underrated Georgia offensive players: the wide receivers.
“They could stretch the field vertically,” Stoops said. “They get in and out of breaks extremely well. So they present 11 guys every time you step on the field.”
Thursday morning was the designated time for Oklahoma’s defensive representatives to meet with the media. The undercurrent of the comments was double-pronged: Respect for Georgia’s offense, which the Sooners think is underrated, but a clamor for respect for their own defense, which they also think is underrated.
“We’re done talking,” Oklahoma senior defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. “We’ve been hearing this every year. We play SEC teams every year, and we beat them. By a lot.”
“I’ve always told our players, we know what good defense is,” Stoops said. “Statistics can be misleading in a lot of ways, whatever. It doesn’t matter.”
Oklahoma’s defense ranks 58th nationally in yards allowed. But the Sooners also faced three offenses ranked in the top 20 nationally in terms of yards gained: No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 16 Texas Tech.
Georgia, incidentally, faced just one top 20 offense (No. 8 Missouri) but had three other games against top 25 offenses (No. 23 Notre Dame and No. 25 Auburn twice). Oklahoma leads the nation in yards gained and is No. 4 in scoring offense.
The Big 12, of course, features the most prolific offenses in the country, and the Sooners and their supporters point out their defense has to face those offenses on a week in, week out basis.
“It’s unique. The spread offenses that kind of took over our league. The pace of games is different,” Stoops said. “It’s a unique league. The quarterbacks, the offensive coordinators do a great job, really, scheming week to week and trying to pick at your weaknesses. I would imagine Georgia’s had three or four weeks to do that. So we’ll see.”