With both teams sitting at 3-2 and unranked, the Red River Rivalry/Shootout/Showdown/whatever between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns is lacking a bit of luster. With that said, the hatred between these teams and fan bases with never subside, and the intrigue still remains. Here to discuss the opponent is Gerald Goodridge of Burnt Orange Nation.
1. Let’s start with the QB position. What impact would the presence or absence of Quinn Ewers have on the offensive scheme for this Saturday? (Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before the announcement that Quinn Ewers would start)
The difference between the two quarterbacks is the vertical passing game. You saw it early against Alabama where Xavier Worthy was eating their corners alive and Ewers almost effortlessly pushed the ball down the field. Even without a bum ankle, even Hudson Card himself would say that Ewers has a bigger arm naturally. Card is a vastly superior runner, especially in the open field, thanks in part to the time he spent playing receiver in high school.
It took a little bit, but I finally feel like Steve Sarkisian has a firm grasp on how to call an offense for Card’s skill set and I think it shows. He played winning football every time he’s been called on to do so and I think his teammates are responding to that, especially knowing his ankle is far from 100%.
To answer your question, if Ewers is the guy on Saturday, expect Texas to test the OU cornerbacks early and often. If it’s Card, expect more short and intermediate throws with multiple targets for the tight ends and running backs.
2. Where would you rank Bijan Robinson on the all-time list of Texas running backs?
This is such a hard question to answer because it’s the Barry Sanders in Detroit question. Bijan has been absolutely incredible behind an offensive line that has been downright bad for his entire time on campus. I think talent-wise, he’s up there with the greats.
Whether it’s contact balance, the ability to make guys miss in the hole, or dealing with a big hit, he’s got almost every tool you want. His top-end speed is the only real knock on his game, but it hasn’t hindered his game in any way shape, or form.
I think if you sub him in for a guy like Cedric Benson and let him play behind an OL with three future NFL starting offensive lines, he’s a Heisman-type guy.
3. Aside from Xavier worthy, which pass-catcher is most likely to make an impact on Saturday?
I think the two guys to watch for are Ja’Tavion Sanders and Jordan Whittington. Through five games, Sanders is having the best season by a Texas tight end since 2011, that’s not saying much in comparison to a team like OU that has had a litany of productive tight ends.
He’s a five-star kid and he plays like it. He’s faster than the linebackers that are usually tasked with covering him and if you put a corner on him, he’s going to just body them out for the ball. Sark has done a great job of scheming him into space and Card finally seems like he wants to look his way more as he progresses through his reads.
Jordan Whittington was on his way to a highly-productive season in 2021 before an injury against OU last year sidelined him for a month. He’s one of those guys who has been a stalwart for Texas through the last few years and this senior class wants to go out with a bang.
4. The defense has looked good this year, even very good at times. What’s been the biggest key to improvement since last season?
This sounds so dumb to say since these are Division I football players, but it’s literally just the team’s ability to tackle. OU fans are VERY familiar with the Longhorns’ inability to wrap up and make routine tackles, which lead to back-breaking plays. Basically every game, except Texas Tech (gross), Texas was not only sure to tackle at the point of contact but multiple bodies are flying in. Those little things make a huge difference in results.
5. Speaking of the defense, who should OU fans be watching on that side?
The two big names to watch are probably linebacker Jaylan Ford and defensive lineman Barryn Sorrell.
I don’t have a ton of positive things to say about the previous coaching regime, but finding Jaylan Ford, the No. 1221 recruit in the country, who has been one of the leaders on the defense. He’s on pace for 121 tackles on the year and his emergence as a consistent force in the middle of the defense has allowed Texas to use DeMarvion Overshown in multiple roles and looks, which throws off blocking schemes as offenses have to account for him.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this is Barryn Sorrell, who leads the team in sacks currently. Again, Sorrell feels like a parting gift from the former staff, as Oscar Giles went into the boot and recruited an edge rusher who LSU wanted.
6. It’s that time of year again. What’s your New Food pick for this year?
Oh, this one is a slam dunk. The Chicharrón Explosion Nachos. BBQ beef, fajita steak, queso, jalapeños, and sour cream on a bed of spicy chicharróns. It’s not only an incredible take on nachos, if you’re a carb counter you can’t do better than subbing out tortilla chips for pork rinds.
7. What’s the general sentiment from Texas fans regarding the move to the SEC?
I think Texas fans are ready for it to happen, especially now that it seems like Sark is flirting with putting it together on the field. Texas is pretty well set up to be competitive in non-football sports, so if football gets on the right trajectory, it’s going to be a net positive. That being said, based on the last 12 years, that’s a big if.
8. On the realignment topic, which new Big 12 school will the current fan bases end up hating the most?
Cincy and UCF honestly seem rather benign, so that narrows it down to BYU or Houston. Because UH sports has always vibed more like hip-hop Houston rather than “my parents bought me a Range Rover” Houston, I’m going with BYU.
9. How do you see this one shaking out? What’s your score prediction?
Everything in my body is screaming at me “Texas by 3 scores” based on what we’ve seen on the field so far. But as we know, this game is played in a vacuum and that vacuum is full of knives.
Gun to my head, I think Texas wins, but a 38-27 situation.