Hello, Sooner fans! We’ve decided to take a short break from the animosity to have an civil conversation about the game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. Joining us this week is Cody Daniel, who is the co-editor of Burnt Orange Nation. Go ahead and give him a follow at @CodyDanielSBN.
Texas seems to have righted the ship after a rocky start, especially on the defensive side. Is this due primarily to adjustments that have been made, or are the players just finally getting a hang of things?
I'd say a combination of both, but the noticeable adjustments have come defensively. Todd Orlando's scheme is fairly complex, as it should be to overwhelm offenses, but the team looked a bit too tight against Maryland and it showed. They've since just been flying around and the results are clear. Now if Tim Beck can just make adjustments and get the ground game going, Texas might be up to something.
True freshman Sam Ehlinger has started for Texas in three of its five games due to a nagging shoulder injury for Shane Buechele. Do you believe that Ehlinger is the better fit at QB moving forward? What does he bring to the table?
From a fit standpoint, yeah. I'd go with Ehlinger. In an ideal world where health isn't an issue, Buechele is a better passer, but his offensive line is banged up and the running game is next to non-existent. Meanwhile, Ehlinger can add that needed running dimension like he did against KSU, and he's improving noticeably as a passer, so it's becoming easier to see why folks want Sam behind center.
The Texas defense has looked pretty good since a poor opener against Maryland. Aside from household names Malik Jefferson and Poona Ford, which defensive players should OU fans keep an eye on this Saturday?
DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill are emerging as stars in the secondary. Malcolm Roach has the kind of talent to change a game at defensive end and although he's technically Jefferson's backup, Gary Johnson is tremendously athletic and instinctual. He's made plays every time he's seen the field this season.
The receiver position was sort of a mystery heading into this season, but some fresh faces have stepped up in that group. Which receivers do you expect to have the biggest impact this weekend?
Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. Johnson is the 6'6” sophomore who's quickly become Ehlinger's favorite target, and for good reason. Texas wants playmakers in the slot and Hemphill-Mapps is proving to be that option thus far. If Texas has a big game through the air, one, if not both of them will have a huge say in that.
I heard a lot of "Here we go again!" after the Maryland loss, but Texas fans seem to be more hopeful than they've been in a long time. How would you describe the current morale of the fan base?
Right now, folks are pretty optimistic, but that has more to do with the standard now exactly being the highest anymore than Texas being back. That said, in a world where rankings matter to fans, Texas fell just short of upsetting USC on the road and could easily be ranked within the top 20 entering this game, and fans seem to understand how close Texas is to finally turning the corner.
After Oklahoma's lackluster performance against Iowa State, what specific things do you think Texas will be able to do in order to take advantage of Oklahoma's weaknesses?
The most noticeable weakness has come defensively when offenses spread them out, and then missing tackles has been an issue. I'd expect Texas to spread the Sooners out and hope that they're playmakers do just that in space, and then let Ehlinger do his thing when plays break down and force Oklahoma to tackle a QB that's build like a LB.
In turn, what are some weakness that you think Oklahoma could potentially take advantage of?
Offensively, I don't see Oklahoma finding much success running the ball, but Texas has struggled with mobile quarterbacks and despite the interceptions, still has some breakdowns in the secondary. I'd be surprised if Lincoln Riley doesn't put the ball in Mayfield's hands at least 50 times and lets him do what he does best until Texas can stop it. Defensively, just load the secondary and force Texas to prove it can be you on the ground. The 'Horns haven't been able to do so yet.
What's your favorite non-football element of the rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas?
It would have to be how much the fan bases dislike each other, in general. I went to school at Kentucky and it reminds me a lot of the Wildcats’ rivalry with Louisville. There's just this constant feeling of wanting to see the other fail, even with it has virtually no effect on your team. It's the kind of thing where you see an Oklahoma fan in line at Whataburger and you just hope his food is cold and the fries are old.
Yesterday, I previewed some of the food items at the State Fair of Texas. Which food item seems most appealing? Which ones are you a bit more skeptical about?
The deep fried chicken noodle soup on a stick just doesn't sound good in any way, shape or form. I'm all for the funnel cake bacon queso burger, though.
Have you ever created a fake Twitter account for the sole purpose of defending yourself against detractors? Would you ever consider doing so?
Aha, no, but I have had other people hop in threads and defend my honor before when I've wanted to just irritate someone with strength in numbers.
What's your overall opinion of the DFW area? Do you hate it as much as I do? It really is our nation's worst major metropolitan area.
I've never been to Fort Worth, but being from San Antonio, I don't mind Dallas at all. But then again, I've never been there more than two days at a time.
Who would win in a fight - Earl Campbell in his prime or present-day Connor Williams?
Earl, no question. No clue if the guy can actually fight, but I wouldn't pick him to lose anything. He's a Longhorn legend so he's earned that.
What's your favorite barbecue establishment in Central Texas?
I like the mom-and-pop kind of places more, but the Big Bib is my go-to in San Antonio. Smoke Shack is pretty good, too.
Would you rather fight 1,000 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
One horse-sized duck, for sure. I'm getting up there in age at 24 so my stamina isn't the greatest anymore. I'd be worn out by the time I get to the 100th horse
What's your prediction for Saturday? What does Texas have to do to beat Oklahoma?
As always, this one is hard to predict. If OU wouldn't have dropped the game to ISU, I may have gone with a Texas team that's improving. But instead, I think OU takes all that frustration out on Texas and at the end, the explosive offense is too much. The Sooners force Sam into some freshman mistakes and break free for a huge play or two to win 34-27.