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UTEP at Oklahoma: Q&A With Crimson and Cream Machine

Jack Shields from SB Nation’s Crimson and Cream Machine join us for our first game week Q&A of the season talking Sooner football.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Stoops was such a staple for the Oklahoma program and college football in general, describe what the fans are feeling about a new, but exciting era of Sooner football, in a sense?

I'd definitely say that the fan base is quite hopeful at this point. It was obviously a bit of a somber occasion when Stoops retired, and it was just such a shock. However, Riley really has everyone excited about the future of the program, and he's already doing great things on the recruiting trail. As far as this season is concerned, I don't think anyone around here thinks the Sooners will miss a beat.

It seems OU might be looking for new plug-in play makers to help Baker Mayfield keep the Cadillac cruising, who do you want to see make an instant offensive impact against UTEP to start the season?

True freshman wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was named a starter on Wednesday, so that's definitely the individual everyone is most excited about at this particular moment. There's a lot of potential at the running back position, but OU fans just aren't sure how guys like Rodney Anderson and Marcelias Sutton will do in front of 86,000 plus. Sophomore Abdul Adams has some game experience at the position, but it was mostly in mop-up duty. Folks are confident that the running game will be a strength, but they're all just interested to see who steps up

Defensively, what are you hoping a newly tweaked Oklahoma defense looks like not only this weekend, but for 2017?

Well, it's still technically a Mike Stoops defense, but the defense's move to the 4-3 should help considerably with the pass rush. In 2016, OU had their issues applying pressure, and quarterbacks such as Greg Ward and J.T. Barrett had all day to throw. Don't expect that to be the case quite as often in 2017.

UTEP is a 40-something point dog, so any morale victories the Miners will gladly take, give me a worst case scenario Oklahoma fans probably don't want to see in the flow or outcome of the game?

I think one negative scenario for Oklahoma (and positive scenario for UTEP) on Saturday would be a lack of quality production from the new skill-position players. OU will win this one conformably but if the skill-position guys don't "wow" us, people will get a bit worried about the rest of the season. People also don't want to see any breakdowns or communication issues on the defensive side of the ball. I think the talent is finally there (to an extent) on that side of the ball for OU, but they're also starting a true freshman at middle linebacker. If said middle linebacker (Kenneth Murray) plays well and the secondary doesn't give up any big plays, people will probably be pretty thrilled

Some UTEP fans and Miner Rush staffers are making the trip up to Norman, give me a top three must eat-at list of restaurants you'd recommend for my fellow El Pasoans?

I'm gonna give y'all five:

  • One of my favorite places in Norman is Diamond Dawgs on Campus Corner. They have great coneys, burgers and wings, but the best thing on the menu is called The Wonderboy, which is a corndog fried in Cap'n Crunch batter. Eating one can best be described as a religious experience.

  • Greek House is a place that's adjacent to Campus Corner, but it's kind of tough to find it. Once you do find it, order the Child's Plate. This meal is a very adult helping of gyro meat, french fries and quarter cuts of pita bread (ask for extra pita bread). It's magnificent, and it's also great when you heat it up later. Fair warning -- it's a cash-only place.

  • The Mont is an OU institution. It's located just east of campus on Boyd Street, and their queso is the bomb. They're also known for a frozen concoction called a Swirl.

  • O'Connell's is also an OU institution, but it's no longer at it's original location. The newer one is on Campus Corner, and you should get a beer rocket and a C&R Burger if you can find a table.

  • Blackbird/The Bird's Nest is a cool spot to eat and drink. Downstairs is the gastropub where you can find some really good food (I'm a fan of the meatloaf sliders). The upstairs entrance is behind the back, and that's where you go to get a little rowdy and maybe light up a cigar.

Big thanks to Jack! Follow C&C Machine on Twitter @CCMachine