The game week that matters most to Texas fans is finally here. The Red River Rivalry Shootout (or whatever you want to call it) is one of the most storied and contested border battles in college football history. This is one of the games where you throw out the records and sit back and enjoy good football.

OFFENSE:

Much like Baylor, Oklahoma runs a quick-paced, no huddle offense. The Sooners mostly run out of the shotgun with a few different looks of a single back lined up next to the quarterback and a pistol formation with a fullback offset from the QB.

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(Insert picture 1. Single-back formation)

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(Insert picture 2. Pistol formation with a fullback offset)

While Oklahoma runs a similar style of offense to Baylor, they do not snap the ball as quickly when they line up. Oklahoma will get the call from the sidelines, lineup, and then look back to the sideline for an audible.

Oklahoma runs a zone read out of the shotgun pistol formation and will also utilize the pistol in short yardage and goal line situations. Primary runner, Samaje Perine (#32) is a big back who is a straight forward runner that doesn’t have a lot of wiggle, but he does shed tackles extremely well.

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(Insert picture 3. Zone read out of pistol with Blake Bell as TE)

The Sooners’ have been effective when they utilize the deep pass, specifically to Sterling Shepard (#3). In all four of Oklahoma’s first scoring drives of a game, the Sooners moved the ball downfield on deep passes (three of which went to Shepard - 53 yd, 75 yd TD, 37 yd). Only one of Oklahoma’s drives lasted longer than 4 minutes and only two lasted longer than 7 plays, both of which were scoring drives.

Oklahoma’s starting QB, Trevor Knight, is very inconsistent, but has had great success throwing the deep pass. He will look first to Shepard and throws to him if he is singled covered. However, Knight has had issues underthrowing deep passes when facing pressure from the defense. The Sooner QB has also had good success running the ball on QB draws and improvising when receivers are covered.

Other notes:

- Former starting QB Blake Bell, is used as WR, FB and TE.

- The Sooners often use a lot of pre-snap motion, sending receivers from one side to the other.

- Oklahoma likes to utilize play action to look for deep passes.


DEFENSE:

The Oklahoma defense has struggled in some areas, specifically in passing yards per game (264 ypg – 95th nationally) and total yards per game surrendered (373.6 ypg – 53rd nationally). The Sooners run a 3-4 defense (three down linemen and four LB’s). The front 7 of the Sooners will give different looks including standing up linemen, pressing DBs close to the line, and moving LB’s and DE’s around prior to the snap to confuse the offensive line.

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(Front five of the DL all standing up in a pass rush situation)

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(Basic 3-4 showing blitz from the left)

The Sooners are aggressive on defense, often utilizing blitzes from LB’s as well as delayed blitzes from DB’s lined up against the slot. The secondary is also quick to pursue a rushing QB, which leaves receivers open if the QB pulls the ball back to throw.

The secondary often gives 5-10 yard cushions to receivers, opening up the short passing game for the opposing offense. The DB’s also take risks at intercepting the football rather than going for the batted pass or the sure tackle.

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(Five to ten yard cushion on all but the outside WR)

Other notes:

- Oklahoma’s most productive defensive player is LB Eric Striker, who they move around and blitz throughout the game.

- Oklahoma will stack the box on goalline defense, leaving 1-on-1 situations and vacating the middle of the field.

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(Sooners stacking the box with the 3-4 in a goalline set, with safety as an extra LB)

- LB’s had difficulty reacting quickly to underneath routes against TCU, which allowed the Frogs to use short passes to move the ball on long drives.


SPECIAL TEAMS:

Oklahoma’s return game can be dangerous as they utilize the talented WR Sterling Shepard to return punts and kicks. So far, however, the Sooners have not had success returning punts as they only average 3.78 yards per punt return (113th nationally). On kick returns, however, they rank 7th averaging 27 yards per return with 1 TD.

The Sooners’ punt team ranks 60th, averaging only 38 yards per punt and their kickoff team is decent, allowing 22 yards per return, good for 91st in the country. Oklahoma’s FG kicker is decent, but hasn’t proven to have a big leg as he is 7/8 on the season with a long of only 42 yards.


MATCHUPS:

Texas QB/WR/TE’s v. Oklahoma’s DB’s:

Oklahoma has a solid group of DB’s with good experience. The Sooners have done a decent job of limiting scoring, but they have had difficulty against the pass, ranking 95th in the country. Against TCU, the Sooners had difficulty defending against the quick underneath routes.

When Swoopes and the Longhorns have been successful passing the ball, it was when they were able to move the ball with short underneath passes. It is difficult to give Texas any benefit of the doubt after the poor performance of this group last week, but the matchup is a good one for the Longhorns.

Advantage: Even

Texas RB’s v. Oklahoma LB’s:

While the Longhorns only scored 7 points against Baylor last Saturday, the running backs seemed to show some improvement in shedding tackles against an aggressive defense. Texas will again see a strong front but it will look a more like the UCLA front 7 than what they saw against the Bears.

The Longhorns RB’s need to continue to improve rushing the ball and provide solid pass protection against blitzing LB’s from the Sooners.

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Texas OL v. Oklahoma DL:

Oklahoma has been strong against the run, but has struggled to contain the passing attack of the opposition. Oklahoma’s defense is decent in pressuring the QB as they average 2.8 sacks per game.

The Texas O-Line will have their hands full against a solid defensive line that brings pressure from various angles. The Sooners are also led by big 6’6” 334lb Nose Guard, Jordan Phillips. If the Horns don’t find a way to support Jake Raulerson, (or whoever starts at Center) Phillips will cause issues.

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Texas DB’s v. Oklahoma QB/WR/TE:

After the Longhorns almost completely shut down one of the top passing attacks in the country last week against Baylor, the Texas secondary deserves some respect. Oklahoma is a good passing team, averaging nearly 280 yards per game through the air. The Sooners, though, are very inconsistent throwing the ball as QB Trevor Knight is only completing 54.5% of his passes.

Oklahoma relies on big plays to score, so the Texas secondary will need to shadow WR Sterling Shepard and force Knight to improvise.

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Texas LB’s v. Oklahoma RB’s:

Oklahoma has a strong rushing attack, averaging over 208 yards per game (35th nationally). Most of their scoring comes off of rushes, as 18 of the 23 TD’s scored by the OU offense have come on the ground. The Sooners are led by super freshman Samaje Perine and also have a good running threat in QB Knight.

Texas has had difficulty all year stopping the run. The Longhorns need the LB’s to do a better job of shedding blocks and forcing Perine to move around as he is most successful as a straight forward, power runner. Until the LBs show that they have the ability to slow down the run, the Longhorns will be at a disadvantage.

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Texas DL v. Oklahoma OL:

It is very likely that this game will be won or lost in the trenches, specifically where the Texas D-Line meets the Sooner O-Line. For Texas to be successful, it must be able to pressure Knight and close running lanes for Perine.

Oklahoma has been very good in pass protection allowing only 4 sacks in five games. They have also been very successful in the running game as they have been able to open up holes for any and all running backs that have carried the ball for the Sooners.

The Longhorns DL did a tremendous job pressuring Baylor’s Petty last week and largely assisted the secondary in nearly shutting down the Bear passing attack. It will need to do so again, but do a better job of stopping the run against Oklahoma.

Advantage: Even


Special Teams:

With Sterling Shepard receiving kicks, there’s always a chance for a big return. The Sooners are also decent at placekicking and haven’t made many big game-changing errors thus far.

The same cannot be stated about the Longhorns. Texas has done very poorly in all areas of special teams, except for punting. Texas has a long way to go to be even average overall at special teams.

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