THE SOONERS RUN
rushing defense has done well against weaker running teams.
Derrick Johnson is just as much of a force as everyone expected
at WLB. In fact, the linebacking corps has performed beyond
expectations, with Reed Boyd and Lee Jackson impressing the
Horn faithful. Highly recruited freshman Mike Williams is
seeing some playing time, too. Quentin Griffin is a steady
threat at running back for OU. He is averaging 7 yards per
carry, and just came off a 100 yard rushing game versus Missouri.
Against Alabama's tough run defense, Griffin was shut down.
Same with his performance against South Florida's defense.
Texas' defense should be able to hold it's own.
OL vs. LONGHORN DL
Just as impressive, Texas' DL has a deadly duo of DEs in Cory
Redding and Kalen Thornton. These two are expected to continue
making big tackles for loss and relentlessly rushing the QB.
Also playing some time at end will be freshman Brian Pickryl
and sophomore Austin Sendlein. Marcus Tubbs has played huge
at DT for the Horns, proficient at both rushing the passer
and stopping the run. And freshman DT Rodrique Wright is contributing
already. Did we forget to mention the OL's for each team?
Oh well, the reason should be obvious by now.
THE LONGHORNS RUN
Cedric Benson should gain over 100 yards in this game, so
why the slight advantage to OU? The answer: because it won't
make much difference. Oklahoma has dealt before with strong
rushing attacks, versus both Alabama and Missouri (granted
they were close games). Benson will need a more-than-average
day to make an impact to the outcome of the game. OU's rushing
defense has done well at containing so far, although big plays
(tackles for loss, fumbles) have been too few. MLB Lance Mitchell
has become one of the biggest contributors, as has WLB Teddy
Lehman. Tommie Harris and Jimmy Wilkerson on the line defense
the rush well.
SLIGHT EDGE: SOONERS
OL vs. SOONERS DL
Let's just say Sooner DT Tommie Harris still has room to grow,
and as a sophomore, is already the leader of this unit. Jimmy
Wilkerson is fast on the end and gets to unexpecting QBs early
and often. Opposite of Jimmy is Johnny, Johnny Jackson, another
young gunner for OU. Kory Klein at DT is a junior returning
starter. Look for the Sooners to use this advantage to control
Texas' capable weapons.
THE SOONERS PASS
some quality passing teams, Texas' pass defense has held true.
Now ranked second in the nation, this is the backbone of the
Longhorn team. Rod Babers has become a big play specialist
at CB, as teams try to shy away from last year's interception
threat Nathan Vasher on the other side. FS Dakarai Pearson
has taken away some passes this year. This group even outshines
OU's secondary. Inversely, Oklahoma's passing attack has not
reached their full potential, although last week some good
numbers were put up against Missouri's weak secondary. The
Sooners have faced much better passing defenses than Missouri's
and have always come out on top. QB Nate Hybl will be looking
for Antwone Savage and Curtis Fagan to have big games. A pleasant
surprise has been sophomore WR Will Peoples, and TE Trent
Smith is an invaluable outlet for Hybl, who hasn't thrown
an interception. RB Quentin Griffin will come out of the backfield
to catch passes, as well. But look for Texas to be able to
keep this OU passing unit from consistent success, giving
up a few big gainers.
THE LONGHORNS PASS
of these two offenses has hit full stride. This is apparent
in Texas' passing game. We all know the names on the Horn's
side of the ball. Consistently, Chris Simms' biggest performances
have come against the Longhorn's weakest opposing pass defenses.
Even a susceptible Oklahoma State defense held Simms and Texas
to just 17 points. Receivers Roy Williams, Sloan Thomas, and
B.J. Johnson are waiting for their breakout games, with Williams
looking to get sharp after an injury. Oklahoma's pass defense
is dominating, lead by FS Brandon Everage, and CB Derrick
Strait. Sophomore CB Antonio Perkins is quickly making a name
for himself, and young Eric Bassey adds experience with each
game. The Sooners have not faced a stiff passing attack up
to this point. So the test will come this Saturday when they
face the star-studded cast of Texas. Which team will "pass"?
Perkins has a couple TD's on punt returns this year for Oklahoma.
Both kicking teams have been missing field goals as of late,
and the punting games are evenly average. Texas has also had
impressive returns, making this match up too close to call.
Could be a big factor, none the less, as big games like this
often come down to special teams.
Texas may appear to have a slight edge. If Benson can have
a big rushing game, and if the Texas wide receivers, including
a rusty Roy Williams can hit stride with Simms' passes, then
Texas can wrap this one up. Something about recent history
whispers differently, though, something not on paper. Will
Chris Simms thrive, just survive, or take a dive in the spotlight
of another big game? Will Oklahoma's defense hold, and be
able to disturb the Texas offense? And will OU's offense find
ways to score against a dominant Texas defense? Texas may
have a slight advantage on paper, but Oklahoma should prove
the paper(s) wrong, once again. Look for the Sooner defense
to keep it close as their offense pulls it out in the end.
- The big Texas
offensive line needs to open up the running game against a tough
Oklahoma defensive front.
- The Texas
receivers versus the Oklahoma secondary is one of the best match
ups to watch in all the nation Saturday.
- Cedric Benson
needs to play the game of his life.
- Chris Simms
has been horrid against Oklahoma, he needs to do more than just
"not lose" the game.
- The Texas
tackles (Dockery and Doane) have to provide outside protection.
- The Sooners
cannot be one-dimensional, Griffin and Hybl need to be effective
at running and throwing.
- Vice Versa:
The Oklahoma receivers versus the Texas secondary is one of the
best match ups to watch in all the nation Saturday (see above
- Derrick Johnson
needs to shadow Quentin Griffin all day, whether carrying the
pigskin or running pass routes.
- Nate Hybl
just needs to continue his current success and not get fancy.
down TE Trent Smith in clutch situations will be a huge task for
the Longhorns, you can only hope to minimize the destruction.