To say that the TCU offense is humming would be a bit of an understatement. The Horned Frogs are averaging 44.7 points per game which is just a tenth of a point behind the scoring pace of the Sooners. TCU has sandwiched a season-low 30 points in between 48 and 56 scoring outings and now the Sooners are faced with the task of slowing them down.
New co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie has given TCU's signal caller a new found confidence and Trevone Boykin has responded with 64% accuracy, eight touchdowns to a single interception, and nearly seven yards per passing attempt. So why would Oklahoma want to try and force him to pass? Because it's the best option to win.
Here's what I would expect from Oklahoma's defensive game plan.
Keep Boykin in the pocket. Here comes the "duh" statement of the day but Boykin is more dangerous as a dual-threat quarterback than he is with one aspect of his game taken away from him. Boykin is also TCU's leading rusher at average of 6.3 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. Oklahoma will want to pressure him but also make sure that he doesn't get loose. Do accomplish this the defensive ends will need to keep containment on him so that he doesn't get outside of the tackles. The goal would be to make him step forward where hopefully Jordan Phillips is creating havoc and Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans are waiting to clean up whatever comes. Losing containment on Boykin would be a huge mistake for Oklahoma's defense.
Stop B.J. Catalon with base personnel. This is where it gets tricky and the Sooners are going to have to be assignment sound. Catalon is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and certainly worth attention from Mike Stoops and company but if they can keep him in check with their front seven then it frees up more blitzing options.
Defend the pass and keep everything in front of you. If (key word there) Oklahoma can shut down TCU's running game then they'll be forced to rely on their passing attack and that's when they become less potent. Don't get me wrong, TCU has talent but we've yet to see the improved Trevone Boykin make crucial decisions with the football when he's forced to throw.
The Sooners can't get so caught up in stopping the run that they neglect responsibilities in pass defense. It'll be crucial that the safeties keep everything in front of them and trust their teammates.
All defensive game plans rely on the line to do their job and Oklahoma's front will take on a bit of a different responsibility this time around. They have to occupy space and not give up ground. Jordan Phillips is key in the middle but even if he's doing his job it'll all be in vain if the ends Charles Tapper and Chuka Ndulue can't hold containment.
The challenge in this game should be on Oklahoma's offense to make headway against a TCU defense that has been the best in the conference. That challenge becomes even more threatening if Oklahoma's defense can't do their job.