It's all about the quarterbacks in this year's Red River Shootout between the Sooners and Longhorns. One one sideline Oklahoma has Blake Bell who has taken the reigns of the offense and has performed admirably in wins over Tulsa, Notre Dame and TCU. Across the field Texas has Case McCoy who, like Bell, took control of the offense following an injury to the season starter. McCoy led the Longhorns to a 31-30 win at Iowa State last week and also contributed to a 31-21 home win over Kansas State. However, unlike Oklahoma, depth becomes a major issue at the quarterback position for UT.
Enter freshman Tyrone Swoopes who seemingly has a ton of potential and athleticism. He was expected to make his debut against the Cyclones last Thursday night but the opportunity never presented itself. In his address to the media this week, Mack Brown said that he feels as if Swoopes is ready.
"Yeah, I think you've got to prepare for him (Swoopes) to be ready to play, and we've done that now for three weeks. We talked about whether to put him in the other night or not, and there really wasn't a comfortable situation."
While admitting that the Cotton Bowl atmosphere on Saturday morning will be cranked up quite a bit from what they experienced in Ames last Thursday, Brown went on to say that they'd be more then willing to put him in against the Sooners.
"But what people have to understand is what Major (Applewhite), Darrell Wyatt and I have to decide is what gives us the best chance to win the game. We watch these kids every day, and if we thought it was better to put him in to win the game, we would put him in. We're pleased with him. He's making progress. You're right, it's not the friendly confines of home in Dallas on Saturday morning, but if we feel the need to put him in, we will do that."
Not done yet, Brown went on to say that it should be expected that Swoopes would see his first snaps as a Longhorn quarterback this Saturday.
"You've got to plan on his first snap being in Dallas, and if it is, prepare him for it."
There's really no telling how much of this is just coach speak and posturing for the game on Saturday. What we do know is that Oklahoma has to at least spend some time preparing for the possibility of a mobile quarterback with great speed.
Part of the reason for the potential need for Swoopes is the speed and aggressiveness of Oklahoma's defense. This is a group that dominated the Longhorns last year and Brown was specific to say that they're playing more consistently in 2013.
"They're so fast. They played really good defense at times last year, but this bunch, the linebackers are about 220, they can all run 4.5 or better, they're still big and strong up front. They're giving you pressman and they're covering you. They're really being aggressive and they're well coached, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They're the No. 9 defense in the country and in this league to be the ninth defense in the country is pretty special."
Among the Oklahoma players that Brown mention on the offensive side of the ball was quarterback Blake Bell, who Brown says is unique. When specifically asked if he could compare Bell to the Oklahoma quarterbacks of the past the answer was a clear, no.
"No, I don't think you can because he's so unique with his size and frame and he's run over us the past couple years on short yardage and goal line. People have questioned his ability to throw, and he's really answered all of those. They've got great receivers and they've got tremendous speed. The running backs can score like they did against TCU the other night, like they did against us last year. They can touch the ball and take it the distance very quickly.
They're doing a really good job of staying spread out but being physical and running the ball, and Bell is a big part of that."