Scouting Report: Breaking down the Sooners with Chandler Engelbrecht

Iowa State running back Breece Hall runs toward the sideline while being chased by Oklahoma’s Brian Asamoah and DaShaun White during their game Oct. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Matt Belinson

Ahead of Iowa State football’s rematch with the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship on Saturday, the Iowa State Daily spoke with Chandler Engelbrecht, senior sports reporter at the OU Daily, to get all of the important info on Iowa State’s opponent.

Iowa State Daily: The last time these two teams played Oct. 3, no one knew what to expect going in. Iowa State was 1-1 and Oklahoma lost its conference opener to Kansas State. Oklahoma lost to Iowa State 37-30 and fell to 0-2 in Big 12 play. But since then, Oklahoma has not lost a game and has found its way back to the Big 12 Championship game. What is the difference between Oklahoma now and Oklahoma on Oct. 3?

Engelbrecht: “After the Iowa State game (on Oct. 3) I thought this team lacked confidence, I thought they were flat out just giving up, it was a very low point, probably one of the lowest points OU football in quite a long time. But they turned it around and I wanna say this team looks like a more complete team than they ever were a year ago or the season prior, they’re just overall more complete. I remember talking to you earlier in the year and I said Spencer Rattler looked like a guy that was playing in third game as the starter, he looked young. And now he’s grown up a lot.”

ISD: What has Rattler done over the last two months to “grow up” as you said?

Engelbrecht: “He’s more comfortable now. He’s calm. I think it’s because his offensive line has improved drastically. In those first three games they were only averaging about 100 rushing yards per game, which by an Oklahoma standard is probably 100 yards lower than what it should be. He’s had a lot of pieces around him kind of grow up as well and kind of get more comfortable and that’s what has allowed him to trust the process more. I hate that’s a cliché saying but it’s true. He’s shown himself to be less of ‘Hey, here’s the young gunslinger,’ it’s now ‘This guy is in control and isn’t too afraid of the big lights anymore.’”

ISD: What has made Oklahoma’s defense so good over the last month? Breece Hall and Iowa State put up a lot of points and yardage on them in October but really since then, outside of a crazy triple overtime game against Texas, Oklahoma has not given up a lot on defense. Why is that?

Engelbrecht: “I think if you want to look at just one factor that this defense has now that it didn’t have against Iowa State the last time, it’s Ronnie Perkins. Ronnie Perkins missed the first five games of the season due to a failed drug test suspension that happened before the Peach Bowl loss to LSU last season, so he was held out for the beginning of the season. The guy is a first round NFL Draft pick easily. He’s just added a level to this defense that they didn’t have before.”

ISD: What is your prediction for this game?

Engelbrecht: “When you told me about this interview I knew this was going to be a question I was going to have to answer and I never came up with one. I see it right now being a game that sees a lot of offense early on but as the second half rolls around you start to see both defenses take control. I’m going to lean on Oklahoma because of their track record of winning the Big 12 Championship. I think it’s going to be a lot closer than a lot of other experts are saying. I’m going to take Oklahoma 35-28.”