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What to Expect from the OU D and Special Teams: Texas Edition!

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The forecast in Dallas calls for an 80% chance of pain.

Brett Deering/Getty Images

(See my previous post regarding my ability to predict anything.  When I was twelve, I thought I’d be dating Kelly McGillis by now.  Or at least have learned how to play the electric guitar.)

Throughout four games, we’ve seen a few patterns and a lot of uncertainty emerge.  By way of sheer guesswork, here’s what I think we can expect against the Longhorns.

1. Expect to feel good.  Real good.

In total offense this season, Texas ranks 110th in the nation.  Our week one opponent, Akron?  They rank 108th. Yeah, yeah, schedules, apples, oranges, I hear you.  I just wanted to share, because it’s funny.

In this still-young season, Texas has already changed its starting quarterback and its offensive playcaller, which are never good signs.  Their fans seem reasonably happy with our old friend Jay Norvell on the headset, and he’s running an offense we should be fairly familiar with, since he was our OC last year.  He’s trying to hurry up the Texas offense, take advantage of an athletic quarterback, and use the run to take play-action shots down the field.  He may eventually get the wheels out of the mud, but he simply doesn’t have the players.  When I say that Texas is thin beyond its first team, I’m talking 90s supermodel thin.

The folks over at BON have a pretty good write-up of how their personnel got into this mess in the first place.

2. Expect that we will blitz.  Oh, yes, we will blitz.

Redshirt freshman quarterback?  Check.  Two true freshmen starting on their offensive line?  Check.  Eric Striker’s senior year?  Oh, bigtime check.

I’ve got mad respect for Charlie Strong.  Remember, he was the DC for the Florida Gators squad that stymied our prolific 2008 offense.  But good ole’ Mack Brown did Charlie no favors when he retired.  And SIX players who would be upperclassmen on the offensive line aren’t with the team anymore – five due to transfer, one to dismissal.  Ouch.

"Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war," as Shakespeare would have it.  By the end of this game, I think Hofeld and DeCray might have a combined 2.5 TFL.

3. Expect Heard to create a little excitement for Texas.

The thing that could give OU some hiccoughs is Longhorn quarterback Jerrod Heard’s ability to make things happen with his feet.  WVU quarterback Skyler Howard was no Fran Tarkenton, and he ran it in from 51 yards out against us in a derpy play the likes of which we’ve seen too many times from Mike Stoops’ defense.  Obviously we’re aware of it, obviously we know what to do about it, and we’ve obviously got a bad track record of doing anything about it.  If Texas finds a spark, I’m guessing it will be because of Heard’s ability to scramble.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Oh, those special, special, special teams they’ve got down there in Austin.  If this game were to be decided by a kicking competition between Austin Seibert and whoever the Texas placekicker will be, OU would win 99-3.  Seriously, I doubt there’s a sober Texas fan who would disagree with me.

Strangely enough, Texas still ranks a surprising 45th in the nation in net punting, even factoring in this gem of a punt that went for -6 yards.

The number that pops out at me about this stat is that they’ve only allowed five punt return yards on the season.  So they’re at least getting downfield in coverage well.  You’ll probably see Sterling Shepard calling for fair catches a lot on the day, because he’ll probably be fielding punts for the better part of the game.