Well, everyone stayed awake last week. Texas handled a Daniels-less Kansas Jayhawks team, and the Sooners were able to ride their defense to a comfortable win after a rocky first half against Iowa State.
This is about the only thing anyone could have hoped for. The Oklahoma Sooners coming in and giving hope that last year was a blip and all the defensive numbers are a corner being turned here for Oklahoma. Texas taking down Alabama AND THEN not dropping the ball along the way is impressive for them. Lots of fun angles to this one, so let’s jump in head-first here.
What will I be watching?
- What is the number one thing I am excited to see? Dillon Gabriel and Jeff Lebby with another chance to play in clutch situations. The Sooners have been behind at times this year but with the way the defense has been playing, you always knew that every team would be within reach. The Texas offense is really good, duh. Therefore every drive has pressure to maximize value. Every drive you are behind, and then are forced to punt, is back breaking. The Sooners have to be incredibly careful to know that pressure, acknowledge that pressure, but not play to it. Don’t get out over their skiis, like we saw them do last season. OU’s offense has had high moments and burps this year, avoiding the latter will be crucial.
- Offensive line play for Oklahoma will be big, of course. I do think that unit has gotten alittle more physical each week, but we have made some penalty mistakes. Texas obviously has athletes in its front seven, and the offensive line allowing Lebby to play with 2nd and 6 as opposed to 2nd and 11 will make a big impact. Brent has said it himself. The Sooners’ offense has to win 1st and 10.
- Brent’s defense being tested is so exciting. I, like everyone else, have been excited by Danny Stutsman and company. They have had massive success, besides the first half against Iowa State. Texas’ offense being real is just exciting. Lots of talk of the stats and the company the OU defense is in. Lots of talk about the step forward, win or lose, Brent can prove that is true on Saturday.
Know your opponent: Texas Longhorns
- The offensive line for Texas has been great this year. After being one of the worst parts of the Texas football program for a few years, they have really made life better for Quinn Ewers. Texas is only giving up one sack a game. Pressure on the QB can be a game changer for Oklahoma, and forcing Quinn to play uncomfortably can be an equalizer. Ewers only has one turnover this year, but we saw last year that they can come in bunches. The Sooners need to not only make it rain but pour.
- Jonathon Brooks is averaging seven yards a carry, and this leads us to simply the opposite of the previous point. Win first down on defense. Get Texas to 2nd and 3rd down with at least seven yards to go. Giving your defense and defensive playcaller a predictable down is a big deal. The Sooners are playing as the less talent team on paper. They have to create advantages. Jonathon Brooks for Texas has created a massive advantage for Texas all year, so keeping him in check is a must.
- Texas’ secondary has forced six interceptions in five games. Gabriel has to play clean, which he has generally done up to this point. Still, Gabriel, at times, has been inaccurate. Extra possessions are really tough to overcome, and not giving this obviously opportunistic unit a chance will be a big deal.
Overall, I think this game is a loss, but I admit I am caught up in the narrative of this defensive growth right now. I think, while a loss, this is a game that feels validating for Oklahoma. Texas has proven it might not be the best team in the country, but it is 100% a top 10 team in the country even though we only have five weeks of information. Oklahoma hanging around and giving Texas a real test is validating for the Sooners. And here’s the thing — it might not be the last time these two teams meet in 2023.
Oklahoma - 24
Texas - 27
Talk to you later, knuckleheads!