Wesley Hitt - Getty Images
There are clear advantages on both sides of the field in the Red River Shootout.
With Oklahoma's biggest rivalry game of the season just hours away the crew here at CCM has an in-depth conversation regarding Oklahoma and Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Enjoy!
Jalen Saunders, does he play and can he have an impact, in the game on Saturday?
Matt: Yes, he is going to play. How much of an impact he has depends greatly on how the coaches choose to use him. Keep in mind that Saunders isn't a freshman or a JUCO transfer who needs an adjustment period. He's a junior receiver who finished second in the nation last season in yards per reception average.
Jordan: Yes and yes. I'd love to see Bob put Saunders back there on kick return, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one. Where I think he can make an impact however would be if Heupel is smart enough (questionable at this point) to create a specail play or two specifically to get Saunders in space. Be it a screen, a reverse, whatever I just want to see what this guy can do with the ball in his hands. Because if half of what I've heard he was doing in practice is true, we're looking at a very valuable potential new weapon.
Rich: Jalen is a skilled receiver who recorded 1,000+ yards last season playing in the WAC. From some of the reports I've been reading, he has stepped up from scout team to practicing with Varsity. The problem is that Oklahoma seems to have their cup running over with talent at the position. I don't have any doubts that he can be a playmaker and because of that, he does get onto the field against Texas. It is the focus on having experience that allows him to have an impact as Trey Metoyer continues to struggle. I'm looking for him to pick up some of the slack and come alive in Dallas.
Oklahoma is playing against the second worst rushing defense in the Big 12 this Saturday. Does that mean Heupel throws the ball 80% of the time?
Jordan: Of course it means he throws the ball 80% of the time!!! Seriously though, I'm not sure even Josh Heupel can watch the film Texas has produced so far and make running the ball a priority. Though I hesitate because if there's one thing you never do, it's underestimate Josh Heupel's ability to put up an 80/20 split pass-to-run ratio.
Rich: Let's hope not. Texas Tech should have been a great precursor in looking at what the future holds. Heupel did a better job at taking what the defense was giving him. However, this game may come down to clock control which has not been a strong point so far. With Damien Williams on the field, I think Oklahoma is good for right around 30 rushing attempts to 45 passing attempts while utilizing the hurry up to exploit holes in the Longhorn defense that have been exposed.
Matt: I'm still holding out hope that Josh Heupel is learning from mistakes and adjusting as he goes along. I know there's a popular methodology out there that says, "We're Oklahoma and should be able to do what we want," but that just isn't practical in every instant. At some point you have to attack an opponent's weakness in order to set up what you want to do. Heupel failed to do that against Oklahoma State last season. Hopefully we don't see a repeat against Texas this weekend.
Oklahoma's clear advantages in this game are?
Rich: Experience and confidence. This is a game the Sooners dominated last season while holding the Longhorns to a mere 36 yards rushing. The end result was Oklahoma coming up huge in the turnover department to set the tone for the game. They know they can beat a Texas team with David Ash at QB. I expect them to come out hungry while riding the momentum built against Texas Tech, specifically in creating turnovers...thank you Aaron Colvin!
Matt: I think that t starts at the quarterback position. Landry Jones is playing in his fourth Red River Shootout and certainly knows the pressure surrounding this game. David Ash shared time under center last year with Case McCoy and is only making his first true start in this rival. From there I like Oklahoma's secondary against the Texas receivers and I'll absolutely take the OU kicking game over the Longhorns.
Jordan: Kicker. Oh, and fullback. Am I missing any others? Can we count Trey Millard twice, at FB and TE? If so, there's another one. Other than that, I think these teams are pretty even for the most part. Is Landry a "clear" advantage over Ash? Not so sure we can say that anymore even with Landry's performance last Saturday.
Oklahoma's clear disadvantages in this game are?
Matt: The Texas defensive ends scare the crud out of me. I think that clearly goes to the Longhorns as an advantage. From there I'm not sure where else other than to say the kickoff return game looks to favor Texas as well. That said, I hope the Sooners are doing a lot of kickoffs on Saturday.
Jordan: Oh boy, if ever there was a loaded question. Actually, in trying to answer this now I don't think it's as bad as I once thought. Obviously defensive end is the glaring one. Where else though, really? Texas fan would likely say defensive tackle, but I'm not sure about that. Prior to the season, I guarantee you Texas fan would have said their defensive backs were far superior and while they were wrong at the time that unit's play has made them look even dumber (if that's even possible). Overall running back depth I suppose, but I'd put Damien Williams up against anyone on their roster in a heartbeat. Unless I'm just blanking, I'm not sure I see another spot where OU is at a clear disadvantage.
Rich: The nickel and dime packages. Time and time again, Oklahoma has proved it can't cover a receiver coming across the middle with its hybrid LBs. Enter Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson who have struggled at times in coverage in addition to the LB struggles. We all expect Texas to come out run heavy with guys like Joe Bergeron, but if they mix it up, mismatches will ensue with the aforementioned players. Let's hope this is where it clicks for the nickel back in Lynn.
Big 12 Power Rankings.
Jordan: West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU, Kansas
Rich: Kansas State, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa St., Oklahoma St., Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas
Matt: West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU, Kansas
Bonus Question: Give us your best explanation of advanced metrics.
Rich: I'm attempting a serious answer at this question. From the moment I heard the term advanced metrics one thing came to mind. Advanced means something new and not necessarily accepted while metric refers to a unit of measurement. This instantly led me to "Moneyball!" Basically I feel like it is the over analyzation of numbers to come up with an estimated future production rate. That rate then determines the value of a player etc. Anyway, it is something that cannot be applied to college sports without the introduction of contracts and trades essentially rendering it useless on this level of sports.
Matt: Ummmmm...It uses numbers and stuff.
Jordan: I don't really have an explanation per se, so much as a response to the gentleman this question is not so subtly in reference to. This quote is borrowed from an American cinematic classic, Billy Madison, and will serve as my response.