With the Red River Showdown just days away, Sooners Illustrated wanted a little help in breaking down Texas.
HornsDigest.com publisher William Wilkerson took the time to answer five pressing questions about the Longhorns heading into this week’s matchup.
Can this season be saved? It doesn't feel like a giving up on a coach thing but more the line being drawn between the young players and the older ones. What's the answer?
They can salvage this season but it has to start on Saturday. That doesn't necessarily mean a victory over the Sooners either. But Texas has to put its best foot forward, play with some sort of passion and pride and, at the very least, keep it close. It's crazy to think that moral victories are something that UT might take solace in right now. They'd never admit that, but I do believe, since no one is expecting them to win this game, that if they come out and keep this close they can use that to build off of moving forward.
As for the divide between young and old players, there definitely appeared to be markings of one yesterday in what was about as dysfunctional a day as I can remember at UT. They need to get that fixed asap and I think they will. That shouldn't be a problem moving forward.
Has this season been affected in any way with the departure of Steve Patterson? Just the constant drama that was around the program?
I don't think so. If anything I think it's an overwhelming relief that he's gone by those associated with the program simply because that drama is gone. But I truly don't think it has impacted things on the field at all. I can tell you that everyone is glad to have washed their hands with that situation though.
Jerrod Heard was sensational against Cal and sort of come back to earth here lately. Where does he need to make the biggest improvement with his game?
Well it would really help if his offensive line could block for him, especially on third downs, and if his run game could get going. As for what Heard can do himself, the thing that he needs to do right now is continue to be himself. He can't let his play against TCU impact the way he plays moving forward. He's a play-maker who didn't make plays against the Horned Frogs. That can mess with a players head if he lets it. He can't let that loss beat him twice. He is fully aware that Big 12 defenses aren't going to let him run around like crazy. They are often going to implement a spy to make things hard on him. He needs to trust his reads first and always remember that it's OK to throw the ball away on third down and punt if need be, although punting hasn't exactly been a sure thing for Texas this season.
Based on recent performances, who do you feel is ready for a breakout performance against the Sooners?
No question it's sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman. He became the first UT running back to rush for over 100 yards in a game this season last week against TCU. To me, and I said this on HornsDigest on Tuesday, he's Texas' best playmaker on offense. Yes, I know he is listed behind Johnathan Gray on the depth chart, but Gray just isn't getting it done this season and Foreman is. I think they need to rely on Foreman a lot more in this one to have any chance.
OU is using the 2013 game as sort of a reminder about not being overconfident. Sooners are using that for their "edge" this week. What's the rallying cry for Horns this week?
There are so many rallying cries in Austin right now it's really hard to count. There's the "We are Texas" one, the "Let's prove people wrong" one, the "We can't be this bad, right?", the "Let's save our coaches a--" one, etc. I really think Texas' focus this week is coming together as a team. It's insane that we are talking about togetherness, or a lack thereof, this far into the season but this team is splintering right now. Monday's war of words was a perfect example of this. Texas has to put all egos aside and just play football as one. That's the focus. They feel like if they can do that they'll give themselves a puncher's chance in this one as 17-point underdogs.