OU gets healthy. Any premature speculation about OU missing line stalwarts Jon Cooper, Gerald McCoy, DeMarcus Granger, and Frank Alexander appears to be exactly that. Premature. Cooper and McCoy practiced Monday after sustaining minor injuries against Baylor, while Granger and Alexander may be healed in time for the game. Certainly bad news for Longhorn fans, particularly since the offensive and defensive lines are major strengths for OU. However, Cooper may be slowed enough to allow half man/half beast Roy Miller easier access to the OU backfield.
It's all about the timing. We've all been there: You've got something going on with that girl you're crazy about, but you can't get together because the timing isn't right for her. Attempting to defend spread offenses requires the same confluence of timing. Either the defensive line must get pressure, or the secondary has to stay on their receivers to disrupt the quarterback's timing.
Easier said than done with the premium placed on getting the ball out quickly. Several times against Colorado Colt McCoy held the ball less than a second before finding an open receiver. On the other side of the ball, Texas sometimes got pressure on Cody Hawkins at around a second and a half. Success against Oklahoma will depend on pressuring Bradford in the 1.5-2 second range.
Press man coverage on the outside could be the key to allowing the defensive line enough time to acquaint themselves with the OU quarterback, Rhett Bomar-style. Given some time by the secondary, the speed of Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle on the outside may be too much for the mammoth OU offensive tackles.
Time to step up, o-line. Texas fans and coaches aren't happy with the short-yardage production from the football team after failing several times third-and-short situations against Colorado. Greg Davis expects 75% conversion on plays of less than two yards:
We're not doing that. We've got to evaluate what we're doing in those situations, everything from play-calling to personnel groupings.
Davis estimates the Longhorns are converting at around 66% in those situations. In the Colorado game, I think part of the problem was not using a fullback in the power formations, instead going with two tight ends. The loss of Luke Tiemann may be more significant than originally thought. Even though Ullman and Smith are supposed to be the "blocking" tight ends, the Longhorns haven't had much success running the ball from the two tight-end formation. After four games, it appears that the offensive identity of Texas football is a finesse passing team. Not a good sign for those moments when lining up and bludgeoning the other team into submission becomes necessary.
Better than expected? After losing Curtis Lofton to the NFL after his junior season, the OU linebacking corp wasn't expected to be a strength of the defense. In fact, compared to the excellent defensive line, the linebackers looked like a real weakness on the defense, particularly after two disappointing seasons from highly-recruited Ryan Reynolds. After Reynold's 14-tackle performance against Baylor, which defensive coordinator Brent Venables graded out at a 100, it may be time to re-evaluate. The other two linebackers, Keenan Clayton and Travis Lewis (a converted safety), have 5.5 sacks between them, while the three are the top tacklers on the team. What looked like an exploitable group before the season no longer looks that way, and coupled with secondary play also exceeding expectations, the back seven of the OU defense may well hold their own against a Texas offense lacking Blaine Irby to exploit the seam.
Chris O knows all-purpose yards. Texas coaches named Chris Ogbonnaya the starter at running back against Oklahoma after his outstanding performance against Colorado. Obgonnaya caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy on a scramble when McCoy appeared to cross the line of scrimmage, while also breaking of a 51-yard run and another touchdown on a run.
The question remains, however, even after his career-best performance: Is Ogbonnaya the answer at running back? It seems like too big of a leap after one good performance to say that all the running back issues at Texas are resolved, but with Ogbonnaya showing a combination of speed and power not witnessed before in his career, he certainly seems deserving of more touches. With his ability to catch balls out of the backfield and pick up blitzes, he provides a versatility at that position no other running back on the team can. And that looks like enough for him to be a critical part of the game plan against Oklahoma.