Love to hate. "Every year Texas-OU week makes me feel anxious and neurotic and painfully aware of my emotional over-investment in this football program... And it's all over much too quickly."
The Red River Shootout is upon us, and we are, once more, utterly neurotic... Like a Woody Allen flick, I'm not sure I'd want it any other way.
Bradford's back. (But can he block and catch passes?) Watching film of OU's games against Miami and Baylor, the difference between Landry Jones and Sam Bradford is as stark as you'd expect it to be. Less clear is whether the rest of OU's offensive roster is in any way capable of extracting the full potential value added from the upgrade. If Jermaine Gresham's healthy it's a different story, but the current cast of misfits and mystics aren't constituted to take advantage of Bradford's strengths as an accurate, strong-armed quarterback who can stretch the defense.
Not only that, but as TES neatly documented, the Sooners' offensive line may cost Bradford both shoulders by the time Saturday's game is through. Earlier today, during my weekly appearance on Paul Alexander's terrific "Longhorns Pipeline" program, one of the other guests (think it was former 'Horns WR Sloan Thomas) made the point that "if you're out there thinking during a game like this one, you're done for." Though Bradford looked good throwing the ball against Baylor, watching him move around one got the sense he wasn't fully confident in his physical condition just yet. If he's ginger, or wary of taking hits, it'll be interesting to see if the pressure he's certain to face Saturday affects his performance.
Brent Venables is OU's Greg Davis. Head on over to EDSBS on Thursday morning and keep an eye out for this week's edition of the EDSBS Podcast, in which Spencer and I interview BC's Scipio Tex for his thoughts on the Red River Shootout. The whole thing should be of interest to you, but pay particular to attention to my question and Scipio's answer about Brent Venables' weaknesses against strong offenses. If you're looking for keys to the game for Texas offensively, the answer depends in large part on how Venables himself approaches the game and whether he plays "the book" that's been written for defending this Texas offense.
If Venables is typical Venables, he plays right into our hands -- blitzing McCoy into the freedom he and his receivers need to make plays on the fly. If OU sits tight and makes us earn it, the pressure is on Davis to make the adjustments.
Buckner could be key. Last year we wondered how an Irby-less Longhorns team would attack OU in the passing game, only to see Greg Davis unveil his best game plan of the year, featuring heavy doses of Jordan Shipley attacking OU in the middle of the field from the slot. Fast forward a year and Texas fans are equally unsure about their offensive coordinator's plans for success on Saturday, but one guy to watch is emerging star Dan Buckner. The opportunities to pick on OU's uneven safeties in the middle of the field with the tight end will be there. Witness at the 2:06, 3:40, and 4:42 marks of the following video:
Pressure? A question for the gallery: who's under more pressure for this game? Mack Brown and Texas, or Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? Texas clearly has more to lose in the short term, but how unpleasant will another loss be for Big Game Bobbie in the larger picture?
Podcast Thursday night, 8:00 CT. Clear your calendars tomorrow night and make sure to tune in for a Red River Shootout podcast with Barking Carnival's Scipio Tex and myself.