The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns are gearing up for the Red River Shootout, and here to discuss the matchup are Wescott Eberts, Cody Daniel and Gerald Goodridge of Burnt Orange Nation. For this week’s Q&A, we discuss food, celebrities (living and deceased), roasting Mike Gundy and much, much more.
This is where we usually plug our podcast, but Matt had strep throat this week and needed to save his beautiful voice for his weekend work with 107.7 The Franchise. We’ll be back next week!
JACK: Alright, alright, alright, let’s start out with the QB position. In what ways has Sam Ehlinger improved since the last time Oklahoma faced him?
Cody: The most notable area he’s improved in is his decision-making. Sam had a tendency to force the issue as a freshman, and this year, he’s become much more efficient as a game manager and just takes what comes to him. His accuracy has improved as well, although it’s still not quite what Texas would like to see, as the Longhorns have left points on the field because of overthrown passes.
Wescott: The difference in decision-been has been really significant. Ehlinger had his arm hit on one interception against Maryland and then simply made a bad choice on the second interception. Since then, he’s gone 128 passes without an interception, the third-longest streak in history. Other than decision-making and some of the other areas Cody mentioned, Ehlinger has been much more patient and comfortable in the pocket and he’s also gained a better command of the offense that lets him slide protections and check into the right plays.
Gerald: I think his ability to diagnose a defense at the line has been a big part of the progression, which he shows basically any time there isn’t a safety over the top of Collin Johnson. I also think we’ve seen him transition from a first read and run quarterback, to a quarterback that will go through his progressions, scramble to pass, and tuck the ball and run it only when he has to.
JACK: Other than Ehlinger himself, who would you anticipate being the biggest threat in the run game this week?
Cody: If he’s close to healthy, I think we should see a healthy dose of Keaontay Ingram. He’s quite clearly the Longhorns purest running threat and the most likely to make defenders miss and break free.
Wescott: There’s no question that Ingram will provide the biggest threat to the Oklahoma defense. He’s the one guy in that room who can consistently pick up more yards than the offensive line blocks for him, in large part because he has an elite slide cut to split defenders that reminds a lot of people of Jamaal Charles.
Gerald: In addition to what Ingram can do, I would love to see the offense utilize the wildcat package with Lil’Jordan Humphrey. I am honestly not a huge fan of him passing out of that set, but having two of your most dynamic playmakers in the backfield and giving him the option to run or hand it off is huge in keeping the defense off-balance.
JACK: OU has had difficulty with bigger receivers this season, and Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey present that threat once again. However, UT has plenty of talent at the position, so who else should Oklahoma fans be aware of heading into this game?
Cody: Ehlinger will look to Johnson and LJH most of the time, but Devin Duvernay is a speedster who can beat a defense deep, and Joshua Moore has done so early this season as well. I think he’ll have to connect with other options early to keep OU’s secondary from swarming Johnson and Humphrey.
Wescott: The guy that Gary Patterson worried a lot about is Duvernay, who has elite speed and is frequently used on post routes. The issue is that Ehlinger has had some difficulties connecting with him, but look for the Texas coaches to try to manufacture some one-on-one matchups for Duvernay and take a shot play or two to him.
Gerald: Maybe this is cheating, but I also think Andrew Beck is a guy that could have one or two plays that really frustrate opponents. He has become Ehlinger’s check-down of choice, and has the body to break one tackle to convert on a crucial third-and-medium.
JACK: Texas has been pretty salty on defense thus far in 2018. What’s been the biggest key to the unit’s success?
Cody: For the most part, Texas’ run defense has been pretty stout, which forces offenses to be fairly one dimensional. And when that happens, the secondary -- and specifically, Caden Sterns -- has been pretty opportunistic in forcing turnovers.
Wescott: The Longhorns have been able to control the line of scrimmage, which has allowed linebackers like Gary Johnson to fire through gaps and stop the run. As Cody mentioned, that has set up the secondary for success.
Gerald: If I were to highlight a person, it would probably be Chris Nelson. He had big shoes to fill with Poona Ford graduating, and I think his ability to occupy space is part of the reason why a guy like Gary Johnson is having such a big year.
JACK: If you were to infiltrate a Big 12 Teleconference for the sole purpose of roasting Mike Gundy and didn’t want to reveal your true identity, what would be your assumed name and publication?
Cody: Jack Shields, Crimson & Cream Machine….
Wescott: I liked the private investigator name creation meme that was going around Twitter a few weeks ago -- your first pet + the last place you vacationed. So I’m Toby Santa Fe and I’m with the Ames Investigator.
Gerald: Ron Mexico, Atlanta Journal Constitution.
JACK: If you were forced (or not forced) to eat one thing from this list of new foods at the State Fair of Texas, which would you choose?
Cody: Forced is a bad word here because I would actually enjoy most of those, so I’ll go with what you couldn’t pay me to try -- That corn dog ale sounds absolutely disgusting, and right up Wescott’s alley.
Wescott: The King Crispy Coconut Crab Sliders sound amazing. And I want to say definitively and for the record here that I have zero interest in my beer reminding me of a corn dog.
Gerald: I have and will continue to prosthelytize for Fletcher’s corny dogs, so the cheesy pup, hands-down.
JACK: What do you hate most about Dallas?
Cody: Easy.. The Cowboys.
Wescott: I’m cheating a little bit here, but the fact that it might as well as be Oklahoma and is full of awful plastic people.
Gerald: I really don’t like that part of Dallas that loves In-n-Out. You’re in Texas, eat Whataburger.
JACK: You have to choose to go to a bar with one, hang out with one and go on a road trip with one. Your options are UT alumni Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Matthew McConaughey and the ghost of Janis Joplin. Explain your answers. Go!
Cody: Bar with McConaughey because he just seems like the kind of guy who you tag along with for one of those memorable drunk nights where you wake up in another state. Car ride with DeGrasse Tyson since I’m sure he’d have some knowledge to drop, although I’d be pretty likely to just leave him at a rest stop somewhere. I have no clue who Janis Joplin is, but I guess I’d hang out with her since she’s the option left, aha.
Wescott: Definitely having some drinks with McConaughey and going on a road trip with the ghost of Janis Joplin. I had no idea that Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a Texas alum, but I would probably have to make up some excuse to bail on hanging out with him after like five minutes because he seems insufferable.
Gerald: I would go to the bar with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and hope the music is too loud to hear the eventual “well actually” statements. Hang with Janis because I’m sure a random jam session would break out. Which leaves a road trip with McConaughey, which could actually be an incredible time.
JACK: Who is your least-favorite Sooner from any time period?
Cody: Some recency bias here but I couldn’t stand the Trae Young hype train. He was wildly inefficient yet folks loved to compare him to Steph Curry, the first and only unanimous MVP in NBA history. However, I greatly look forward to his six-year career as a backup.
Wescott: In thinking about it, I’ve never really disliked an Oklahoma player for anything they did on the field, but I have trouble respecting Bob Stoops after the way he handled players who committed acts of violence of against women.
Gerald: Not a huge fan of Joe Mixon.
JACK: How do you see this one shaking out? What does Texas have to do to win this game? Finally, what’s your score prediction?
Cody: Per usual, this game is going to come down to the wire, but I won’t believe Texas can keep pace with Oklahoma’s offense until I see it happen. Oklahoma - 31, Texas - 27.
Wescott: The team that controls the line of scrimmage typically wins this game. I think the Horns will also need to avoid giving up long touchdown plays and can’t afford to get down early. I think Cody’s about right where I am with a final score prediction, as much as I would like to be able forecast a victory Texas.
Gerald: I think it’s tight for most of the game, but late-game Kyler Murray makes a play only he can make and OU wins 35-28.