I can foresee three realistic scenarios for tomorrow's game.
A close Texas win, in a defensive struggle. Say, 17-13. Or 3-2.
A close Oklahoma win, in a defensive struggle. 17-13.
A Oklahoma blowout win, resembling the UCLA game in which 4 turnovers and a couple of defensive lapses results in a 31-10 rout.
Below is how we're most likely to create Scenario #1.
Run great late?
OU can't stop the run (#93 in the country). We can't run. But we might be able to get something going late if we keep it close. We ran alright in '05 (Masai Warrior), '06 (zone read), '07 (Charles), '08 (wore them down late), '09 (misdirection with Colt as running threat). The only one of those models that is potentially duplicable is 2008. If we can convert a few third downs and stay on the field, we have a shot at running the ball late as backside pursuit wearies, and our linemen can get to the 2nd level on their blocks. We might even have a WR attempt a block, just to see what it feels like.
Our OL, on balance, has been adequate in protection this year. We have to prevent clean shots on Gilbert that will result in turnovers and short fields. OU is going to keep two deep, but they will be bringing their backers. It's Venables, after all. If we can pick that up, we have a chance to make a big play on our 2 yard stop hot routes. 2nd and 8, baby. Pressure is on you now, Sooners!
I'm not bold enough to say no turnovers. I'm just hoping we can limit it to two or less. Particularly any on our side of the field or those resulting scores. Yes, blinding glimpse of the obvious, I know.
Route diversity on midgets
I laugh when I read quotes from Davis offering that we need to simplify given that our offense comes with a "Good For Ages 3 And Up" instruction like Candy Land. I'm not asking for Risk or Stratego. Battleship or Sorry would be fine. Our WRs have to do more than run stops and lazy settle routes (when teams play us two deep, our WRs assume zone and run these horrible settle routes, not understanding it's man under). If I see a properly run post corner on their two deep, I may faint in surprise. We need to take our shots on their midget/inexperienced corners. They're either starting a Lilliputian or a freshman out there Saturday - let's game plan like we're aware of it.
Barrett Matthews - don't laugh - made his hay in high school running deep seam routes. He was a 10.7 100 meters guy at 225. Why not give it a shot?
I'm just asking that we attempt to run some of the routes in the route tree. No more, no less.
Avoid Munchhausen's Offense
The game plan we rolled out in the years in which we were rolled by 50+ or shutout on O completely was centered around "not losing the game" and "protecting the QB." The rhetoric we're hearing now. This is poisoning the offense willfully and then pretending to coddle and protect it. What it means practically is a whole lot of 3rd and 11 with our QB throwing into dime coverage and specialized blitz packages resulting in turnovers, miscues, and a total erosion of confidence that bleeds throughout the whole team. Just play football. Just call a proper offense.
Our staff has identified Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin, DJ Monroe as our playmakers. Davis was a guy we passed on initially, Goodwin is here because of the long jump, and DJ was our 5th string RB two weeks ago. Memo to offensive staff: work on playmaking identification skills. If those three don't combine for a minimum of 20+ touches in varied ways, the football is not good and the ice is not right.
Reading Not An Okie Strong Suit
Landry Jones is a one read QB and it's a Ryan Broyles coloring book. With a Demarco security blanket out of the backfield. Take away Ryan Broyles - at least as an initial read - and cover Demarco Murray out of the backfield with a secondary player on key downs rather than a LB. I'm more inclined to double Broyles with Curtis Brown and a safety and let a physical Aaron Williams slaughter their #2 freshman WR Kenny Stills one-on-one. Take away Ryan (as much as one can) and Demarco out of the backfield and let's see if OU can beat us playing left-handed.
Get Landry On The Run
When Landry Jones has a clean pocket, he throws beautiful balls. When he throws on the run, it's like watching Ruth Bader Ginsburg throw out an opening day pitch for the Nationals. We have a major quickness advantage over the Sooners upfront and our secondary, unlike FSU, isn't cognitively disabled. Do not make a Chykie crack.
Pick 6. Sack and strip. Safety. Whatever. It's completely unfair to ask your defense to singlehandedly win a game. But right now I'm asking our defense to singlehandedly win the game.
Not allowing a fresh set of downs after a defensive stop with a penalty would be a lovely start. If it's 4th and 5 or less, no punt block attempts. Would scoring on a kickoff or punt return be too much to ask? Our best punt returner lost his mind last week, so now Aaron Williams has a shot at being the hero. Teams are now kicking to DJ and Marquise because they've realized we're not blocking anyone, so their speed is a moot point. If special teams can't be a positive factor, at least be a net neutral. This should be a team strength and it has been a team burden. Snap out of it.
If you're going to Dallas, turn off your analytical mind and be a rabid fan, no matter how much our offense frustrates you. This is a game of wild emotional momentum swings and the kids on the field are susceptible to it. The Longhorn crowd affected the outcome of the 2008 and 2009 games and I know Longhorn crowds affected several of the games I attended when Texas was a major underdog and pulled out wins.
Let's do it.
Also, I'd like a score prediction.