They say that the team that runs for more yards has won every game since 1997 in this series, but of course Scipio partially rebuts the importance of that stat in the podcast with NorthDallasSooner when pointing out the stat-padding sack that has inflated Texas' rushing defense totals every season in which the Big 12 has been a spread league.
Anyone recall Texas' run defense being touted before consecutive losses to A&M?
Or the last two BCS games for that matter.
Nevertheless, running the ball successfully is the best way for either team to attack these defenses. We know Texas' D is vulnerable only to a grind-it-out game in which their smallish interior can be pounded, and repeated short-field situations.
Oklahoma has shown defensive vulnerability to a number of different plays and it's imperative that Texas show some awareness of that in the gameplan.
Since Mack has named Goodwin, Monroe and MikeD as the playmakers you can count on all of them being involved in this gameplan. Ultimately, of course, Gilbert needs to be the hero in getting them the ball cause we can hardly count on them being used in coordination.
To run against OU, thus far they have been vulnerable up the middle against their young tackles and Wort and have been abused by draw, zone and option alike for what each play offers in attacking those players. They have been both undisciplined and weak at the point of attack against each of those looks.
As I've already discussed, the draw is the best looking running play for Texas at this point as it attacks the strength and discipline of OU's interior D with the speed of Fozzy/DJ and the abilities of Snow and Walters.
Other than that you can expect a good dose of zone hoping to catch Wort and co. abandoning the backside lanes and the occasional jet sweeps just trying to get Malcolm or Goodwin going. OU won't be especially vulnerable on the edge but if they start flying inside to cope with that weakness it could open the perimeter for the sweeps.
Part two of the offensive plan needs to attack the OU corners, which is the other noticeable weakness to this Sooner unit. Besides the draw playaction play that Davis has been sitting on, probably for this very game, I'm betting that we attempt to punish OU over the middle with Mike Davis in the same manner as with Shipley in 2008.
OU's basic Cover-2 philosophy requires the same kind of coordination and leadership from the Mike as ours does from Blake Gideon, or at least that's what NateHeupel insists in blaming 08 on Reynold's injury, and Wort again looks like a possible victim after his play to this point in the season.
The catch, of course, is that everyone knows our short-route combos and when we employ them and is all too happy to match them, draw the short throw, and then jump it. You can read all about our terrifying struggles with these newfangled defensive measures back in ChrisApplewhite's useful guide to overcoming pattern-matching written before the Alabama game after Nebraska and OU had already demonstrated its incredible potency in stopping McCoy-Shipley.
Since the short option-routes are approximately Davis' only coaching strength and line up with some of Mike Davis' strengths you can expect to see more of those, but BurntinNY has some additional ideas on how to adjust the passing game to overcome.
The gist of it is this, Gilbert needs to be unchained. In the national title game he was beating all of Saban's carefully crafted anti-spread schemes with long, accurate strikes and in the spring practices and early august practices he was demonstrating the same ability to think big with his decisions in the pocket.
Then, in the master plan to protect him early in the season and avoid turnovers, Davis instilled in him the habit of finding the easiest completion and essentially doing whatever it was the defense was intentionally leaving open. Naturally, the defense often leaves something open for a reason and that reason usually plays into their hands, often literally.
If Gilbert throws 2-3 interceptions going deep I'll be happy if it means that Texas is making intelligent efforts to punish Oklahoma for daring Gilbert to beat them. If we continue to try and rein in his gunslinging instincts we make him much less than the quarterback that was recruited from a 2-time State Championship squad.
On the other side the defense has things they can attack as well, namely Landry Jones and the consistent fear of most OU quarterbacks, making decisions. To this end Texas obviously has a number of options including the 4 DL in front of Cover-2 Man Under defense that stymied Tech, or more 3 DL zone-blitzing. Given the implications of this game and the joy Muschamp is likely to derive from confusing the hell out of Jones you can probably expect both.
Most importantly, it's important that the defense be able to recognize and take away the easy reads and plays for Broyles and Murray and force Landry to think while Eddie Jones or one of 7 other guys takes turns chasing him.
Scipio already discussed the possibility of matching Broyles up with a diverse cast of looks and mostly favored Curtis Brown as the main man. Personally I still favor Aaron Williams.
Everyone loves to talk about that one time Broyles made AJ into a fool on OU's lone touchdown last season when he dived for his ankles on the sideline, I'm sure AJ has heard it from everyone about that play many times. Anyone remember the other 70 or so OU offensive plays where Broyles didn't touch the ball while AJ hounded him all over the field? I don't doubt he could approximate that performance and I think 1-36 with 1 TD would be a line from Broyles that Muschamp would accept now.
Wilson likes to make things particularly easy for Landry and throw designed screens and bootlegs to Broyles as well so it pays to have someone shadowing him who cannot only move like him, as Curtis can, but tackle fiercely and reliably as well. Besides that, since Broyles plays predominantly in the slot it's best if the guy playing inside on him won't be a matador in the running game. Sorry Curtis, you can make up for last week by making sure we all laugh at the suggestion that Kenny Stills makes a difference.
As for the plan of matching Murray with Vaccaro I heartily approve. A quitter-making hit from Vaccaro would do wonders for one dimensionalizing this Sooner offense.
That's really basically it, take away the 2 biggest threats and force Landry to look elsewhere. The Sooner offense is highly predicated on forcing you to be disciplined enough to handle their players in space on screens and on the sidelines while talented enough to not be bowled over by their OL in their trap and zone run game.
Against that, Texas will probably play fronts that keep Kheeston Randall in the thick of the action, like the Under Front, to guarantee that a trap block on the end and a double team against Acho or Okafor aren't the engagements that set the point of attack. I haven't paid dutiful attention to the Sooner OL but I can tell you that the last 2 matches with Muschamp are probably a pretty good indicator of this game unless they can play with a lead keep handing off.
Perhaps a more pressing point is how Texas defends their offensive measures against OU's strengths on defense because we all know that Greg Davis' crew not being completely clowned will be the primary determinant of victory.
Spreading 'em out and hitting all over the field with the quick game and deep on the (hopefully not too) occasional play-action or pump fake throws will of course depend on keeping Jeremy Beal and probably Ronnel Lewis out of the backfield.
Last year's Sooner success in pressuring McCoy came from Gerald McCoy's abuse of David Snow inside and the inability of the Longhorn line to account for many of the zone-blitzes.
That latter feature will likely cause some more problems early before Texas adjusts but the unique problem of facing Beal and McCoy on the same side of the line (against Hix and Snow) is mercifully a non-existent threat. However, if Stoops is smart enough to utilize Lewis, R. opposite Beal he can still employ Lincoln's suggestion to McClellan in hitting 2 places simultaneously and preventing the outnumbered foes from shifting the lines to where the pressure is hottest.
I don't see why they wouldn't leave Beal on the left side where he usually plays and allowing him to go up against Britt Mitchell and move Lewis, R. to the blindside against Hix. Neither of those Longhorns can be counted on in those matchups for 40 pass plays and OU could pick up a fumble/sack that determines the game that way. Though at least Texas should be very strong in interior pass-protection and afford Hix and Mitchell to have a little leeway outside and Gilbert some room to step up into.
One option you can expect to see is maximum protection where Matthews or Smith stays on the line to handle one side while Fozzy stays back to pick up any other leaks. Great, except you allow a solid OU back 7 to gang up on the 3 remaining receivers.
The other option simply involves risk-taking with 4 or 5 receivers leaving only 1 TE or RB to help combined with timely-used screens and draws. Hopefully they are calling draw 10-12 times anyway so they should hit a blitz with one of those as a matter of probability but hoping in Davis' ability to call a screen at the right time wouldn't get much respect from Vegas.
Nevertheless it's about time this offense wasn't coddled or protected and simply challenged to execute. After all often it's the simple right-hand lead that knocks the Sooners on their ass. I say take your chances in the spread and allow Gilbert to improvise and throw deep, his mobility has been entirely undersold at this point in the season. They could probably even use him in the zone-read if they wanted to risk the entire season on winning this game. I'd rather they be aggressive in other areas.
Clearly we don't know how to play it safe so they may as well go down swinging. First play of the game, fake draw play-action deep to Goodwin. Set the tone, take the lead and send Stoops' front-running squad back across the Styx to football hell for another 365 days.