One of the key matchups in Saturday's Red River Shootout is the Sooners' young but talented offensive line against the experience and sack-happy Texas Longhorn defensive front.
OU offensive line coach James Patton is coaching in his first OU/Texas game, and he talked about this key matchup with OUInsider.com on the Two Minute Drill.
JH: What is the health status of Jon Cooper?
JP: "He is full speed and ready to go. I am not sure what Jon did this past weekend, but knowing Jon he got treatment all weekend. He is a pure football player and I know he is ready to go. I know he is excited about playing in the game."
JH: Was it good to get away from the game for a couple of days?
JP: "Yeah, maybe it gave them Friday night to go back and watch their high school teams play. For some of those freshmen, it reminded them of back when they were in high school I am sure. I think the biggest thing is that they go home and get some home cooking. Mom and dad hook them up with some home cooking, and that is the most important thing."
JH: Getting home cooked meals is important for offensive linemen aren't they?
JP: "They are. There is no question about that. No question. A couple of them came back with their bellies full, I know that."
JH: Is that why they went through extra conditioning on Sunday?
JP: "Yeah, that is for sure. What goes in must come out. So we made sure they stayed in shape. Those kids are working hard to get back in shape and to get everything going in the right direction."
JH: I can tell Texas has your attention as your players keep talking about how big, fast and strong they are up front on defense?
JP: "You watch them on tape and there are not a lot of weaknesses. They are explosive, they are quick and they are fast. They are talented in their scheme and they attack. With their scheme, they are going to blitz and get after people. They have 17 sacks, and that is a lot of sacks on the year so far. For our guys, it will be a great challenge. Our guys will watch them on tape and we are really looking forward to it."
JH: If you didn't have the penalties and mental mistakes through the first four games, I think people would be saying that you had a physical offensive line because when you guys have blocked it right you have done a great job?
JP: "That is part of being an offensive lineman. You want that physical play and our kids have worked hard. We have not been as sharp obviously every game and there are things we have to get better at and work on. The effort, well, I have been pretty happy with that. Our kids need to keep getting better every week fundamentally. But as long as that want-to in there then every play that we get out there, if we want to block our guy more than he wants to make the tackle, if we have that passion and attitude then I like our chances."
JH: Can you talk about the matchups with Frankling Okam in the middle and Tim Crowder on the outside?
JP: "Crowder is a great pass rusher, so is Orakpo. Robison — No. 39 — is a real good pass rusher. Then Okam inside battling Duke and those guys inside, along with Cooper and Walker, is going to be a real good challenge. They are explosive and talented players."
JH: Your offensive line has a chance to make a name for their own group this week as well, don't they?
JP: "They certainly do. Again, that is the challenge. You want to play against the best and we have two great teams going at it. And when those cameras turn on our kids are going to be ready to play."
JH: Is this game going to be like a prize fight?
JP: "It is not going to be an early knockout. That is for sure. There will be two real talented teams so it is like a prize fight because you have to keep swinging and keep moving forward and keep fighting. That is what our kids will be ready for."
JH: People keep saying who wins the battle of the trenches usually wins the game. Do you believe that?
JP: "I think that is the case on both sides of the ball. You want to rush the football and you want to stop the run. Primarily, that is up front. And if you are winning the battle up front on either side of the ball, you have a chance to control the game and get what you want in terms of your play-calling and things like that. Again, it will be crucial we do a great job up front on both sides of the ball."
Two Minute Drill: James Patton
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