The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns are about to square off in the Red River Shootout, and here to discuss the game is Gerald Goodridge of Burnt Orange Nation — SB Nation’s UT site. We talk about the Texas offense, defensive injuries, ‘Horns Down’ and much more!
Can you describe your experience as a University of Texas alum living in Oklahoma City – specifically during this particular week?
It’s honestly kind of surreal. When I moved up here in 2009, I told my friends I’d be here for just long enough to build the resume. Ten years later I wife, a toddler and a mortgage, so it worked out well. I took my wife to her first game in Austin last year and she changed from “I cheer so my husband is more pleasant to be around” to an actual fan, and I think she is having a tougher time than I am this year. I catch a lot of grief, especially because I unashamedly wear my Texas gear as often as I can, but I love it because that’s how a rivalry should be. It was honestly easier during the Charlie Strong era because I could agree with people that Texas sucked.
Texas is obviously missing some pieces on the defensive side of the ball — including Caden Sterns, Jalen Green and Josh Thompson. How have the replacements looked, and do you think this is something that can be overcome to some degree?
The Longhorns are on the tail end of some of those injuries in the secondary, with B.J. Foster and DeMarvion Overshown returning in the last two weeks. Foster is a huge win, because just like Brandon Jones he can multiple spots in the secondary and gives Todd Orlando more flexibility schematically. D’Shawn Jamison played really well against West Virginia and looks like he could be a legitimate playmaker.
Speaking of the defense, which defensive players are going to be the biggest keys to Texas’ success on Saturday?
I think the biggest players to watch are defensive ends Malcolm Roach and Ta’Quon Graham, as they match up against Oklahoma tackles. With what OU wants to do with Hurts, it’s likely their ability or inability to keep contain and an outside arm free will be a huge differentiator for Texas.
Overall, how has the offense progressed between 2018 and 2019?
I think the biggest progression you have to talk about is the offensive line. Texas benefitted from Georgia Tech graduate transfer Parker Braun, who replaced four-year starter Patrick Vahe at left guard and they shifted stud tackle Sam Cosmi to the left side. Herb Hand’s group is playing really well, especially when it comes to run blocking, creating big running lanes for the backs. The ability to run without giving Ehlinger double-digit called runs in a game has been a huge win for Texas, especially with the injuries in the backfield.
Texas is absolutely loaded at the receiver position, but what do each of the key targets bring to the table?
OU fans are familiar with Collin Johnson after two games a year ago, but he’s coming off of a hamstring injury and hasn’t played the last several weeks. That being said, he’s still 6’6” and an expert at beating press coverage. On the opposite side, sophomore Brennan Eagles has emerged as a big play threat, generating more explosive plays in five games than Texas generated all last year, sitting at No. 5 in the country in yards per reception. At the inside receiver, Devin Duvernay isn’t quite as big as LJ Humphrey is, but is really adept at finding space underneath the coverage and is as sure-handed as they come. In the rotation you’ll also see 6’7” Malcolm Epps, the 6’2” John Burt who is also a sprinter for the track team and true freshman Jake Smith, who is reminiscent is the do-everything playmaker Marquise Goodwin.
Texas is a bit thin at running back to say the least, with QB Roschon Johnson very unselfishly filling in at the position having the second-highest carry total on the team. How does he compliment Keontay Ingram and Sam Ehlinger in the run game?
Roschon is the type of guy you’d want in a bar fight with you. He doesn’t fear anyone and he’s not afraid to run into a scrum and get dirty. That being said, as a dual-threat quarterback he was an explosive playmaker and as an early-enrollee quarterback he knows all facets of the offense. Because he’s so new to the role, he doesn’t quite think about making the right cuts as much as Ingram does, so he just sees space and hits it as hard as he can.
Of all the options at this year’s state fair, which is the most appealing, which is the least appealing, and which is the wild card?
It’s impossible to beat Fletcher’s but of the new stuff I’m definitely intrigued by the Stuffed Fried Taco Cone. Least appealing is probably the shrimp bowl, simply because my only qualification for fair food - excluding funnel cakes - is that you can eat it with one hand. For the wild card, the creamed corn casserole fritters basically combines my love for creamed corn, corn casserole and hush puppies, but it’s a dangerous play heading into three hours of standing and screaming.
If Matthew McConaughey was to step down from his position as Minister of Culture, who would be his replacement?
Admiral William McRaven is probably my first choice. His commencement speech in 2014 went viral and turned into a best-selling book. Even though I’m awful at making my bed. My second choice would be Nobel Laureate Jim Allison. Not only is he kicking cancer’s butt, he also plays the blues harmonica and is generally a cool guy.
What does Texas have to do to win this one, and what is your score prediction?
I think Texas has to win in the trenches on both sides of the ball to get it done. They have to keep Ehlinger upright and control the edges against Oklahoma. I honestly have no clue how it turns out, but I would bet the over.
Most Texas fans seem to be somewhat okay with ‘Horns Down’, but what is your message to the people who seem to be butthurt about it?
You’re the reason why people hate us. Stop it.