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An Inside Look at OU vs. Texas
â€śHow They Match Upâ€ť is a regular feature in each issue of Sooner Spectator magazine. Check out who has the edge in every aspect of the annual Red River Rivarly.
Oklahoma (2-2, 1-0) vs. Texas (4-0, 1-0)
All-Time Series: Longhorns lead 55-39-5
Series Streaks: Sooners have won six straight
Where: Dallas, Cotton Bowl
When: Oct. 8, 2005; Noon
Oklahoma running game vs. Texas run defense
Run blocking improved for OU versus Tulsa, but took a step back at UCLA. Adrian Peterson had little room to work and looked tired. He injured his ankle against K-State, but QB Rhett Bomar and the backups picked up the slack with a big effort. Improved toughness and better fundamental execution against Kansas State was something the Sooners worked on in the off week and eventually achieved.
UT held its first three opponents -- UL Lafayette, Ohio State and Rice, all run-oriented -- to an average of 97.7 yards on the ground. Frank Okam and Rod Wright have been dominating at tackle, and MLB Aaron Harris was the team co-leader with 25 tackles and had two forced fumbles. DBs Michael Griffin and Michael Huff are excellent in run support, compiling 25 and 20 tackles.
Oklahoma passing game vs. Texas pass defense
Rhett Bomar was better against UCLA -- so good that Paul Thompson was moved to receiver (but remains the primary backup). But Thompson's move helps an inadequate receiving corps as much as it helps him get on the field. Tight ends Joe Jon Finley and Bubba Moses have become more involved, which should help Travis Wilson nurture an extremely green group of wideouts. Bomar was good again against K-State and is looking for a big effort vs. Texas.
Although UT had big leads on two of its first three opponents, those teams couldn't pass and amassed just 136.3 yards per game, a figure that ranked the Longhorn pass defense ninth nationally. DBs Michael Griffin and Michael Huff are tough and experienced and likely won't be fooled by any wrinkles in the OU passing game. DE Tim Crowder had three of Texas' eight sacks through three games.
Oklahoma offensive line vs. Texas defensive line
OU's running game struggled against UCLA because line coach Kevin Wilson felt freshmen Duke Robinson and J.D. Quinn had a bad week of practice and might have troubles in their first road test. With those two back in the mix against Kansas State -- Robinson was working at left tackle, allowing Davin Joseph to slide inside to left guard -- there was continued improvement. Pressure on Bomar was reduced despite the loss of Chris Chester to an injury.
Senior DT Rodrique Wright draws a double-team on virtually every play and still had three tackles for loss, 1.5 quarterback sacks and three quarterback hurries through the first three games. DE Brian Robinson has benefited from all the attention to Wright, collecting 20 tackles, including seven for losses, three QB hurries and a sack. DT Frank Okam is a brilliant young talent.
Oklahoma special teams vs. Texas special teams
P Cody Freeby can argue that he's been the team's MVP so far, switching field position and keeping opposing offenses' backs against their own goal line. Penalties have hurt on kickoff returns, and a Lendy Holmes fumble on a punt return got him benched and got the Bruins rolling. Holmes was replaced by injured Jejuan Rankins, no threat to run, but a safe catch. Reggie Smith and Travis Wilson are both deep threats on kickoff returns.
Texas allowed one punt return for eight yards in non-conference play, which allowed UT to rank second in net punting. Aaron Ross (13.3-yard average) showed he's an exciting punt returner and Tarrell Brown (22.5) helped the 'Horns rank 22nd in kickoff returns as a team (26.0). David Pino started out 4-of-4 on FGs and 10-of-11 on PATs since taking over for Richmond McGee.
Texas running game vs. Oklahoma run defense
Different year, same story. The Longhorns finished non-conference play ranked second nationally in rushing offense, averaging 297 yards per game. Freshman Jamaal Charles was ranked 14th in the country with 116.7 yards per game and averaged 8.8 yards per carry. QB Vince Young averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 67.3 yards per game. An experienced and powerful offensive line is the team's true strength.
Going into the Kansas State game, the Sooners were 11th nationally against the run, allowing just 79.7 yards per game. Those numbers got even better as the Wildcats were limited to 22 yards on the ground. Dusty Dvoracek is double-teamed 80 percent of the time and still plays at an all-conference level, and LBs Rufus Alexander, Clint Ingram and Zach Latimer could be forging the Big 12's best trio. Steven Coleman has shown he can play, and the Sooner DBs have been good in run support.
Texas passing game vs. Oklahoma pass defense
This is one of two games for OU this year in which chasing the quarterback isn't a priority. If Vince Young gets time to throw, he's easier to contain. If he gets pressured quickly and breaks out of the pocket, he becomes a dangerous passer. Young spent the offseason working on the mechanics of his delivery, which has apparently resulted in fewer sidearm and submarine throws and a completion percentage of .650.
The Sooners are looking for the right combination. Reggie Smith emerged against UCLA as the leading strong safety, and he was joined in the starting lineup by fellow true freshman Nic Harris. Chijioke Onyenegecha and D.J. Wolfe -- previously the unit's best player -- have been up and down at cornerback, which gave Eric Bassey another shot. Lewis Baker is the main nickel back, along with Darien Williams.
Texas offensive line vs. Oklahoma defensive line
T Justin Blalock (329 pounds) and G Will Allen (315) have the right side protected, but the Longhorns' best overall player may be RT Jonathan Scott (315). These road graders, along with C Lyle Sendlein (305) and LG Kasey Studdard (305), allowed UT to average 6.5 yards per rush to go with 11 rushing TDs -- and allowed just four sacks -- through three games.
Steven Coleman has emerged as a playmaker next to Dusty Dvoracek because of all the double-teams Dvoracek gets. Remi Ayodele and Carl Pendleton also have been extra tough in the trenches. The OU defensive ends have been solid against the run but haven't been a threat to get to the quarterback (three sacks in three games). If they can corner Young on passing downs, the Texas offense could become one-dimensional.
Oklahoma coaching staff vs. Texas coaching staff
This one hasn't been close yet, with Bob Stoops owning five consecutive victories over Mack Brown.
The Longhorns lost co-defensive coordinators Greg Robinson and Dick Tomey to head coaching jobs, but so far that hasn't been a bad thing: going into the Missouri game, new co-coordinators Gene Chizik and Duane Akina (promoted from DB coach) had put together the nation's eighth-ranked defense (234 yards per game). UT also has first-year assistants at RB coach (Ken Rucker) and DE (Oscar Giles).
Chuck Long's play calling was far more creative and unpredictable against UCLA, which shows on-the-fly adaptability. Moving Paul Thompson to receiver may be the best decision this coaching staff ever made -- or the worst. Kevin Wilson's ongoing experiment on the line seems to be making progress, and likewise with the multitude of issues Bobby Jack Wright faces in the secondary.