AN ALL-ANGLES LOOK AT THE 2016 RED RIVER SHOOTOUT
UT leads the series 61-44-5. Saturday will be the 111th meeting between the two. Texas is the only Big 12 team with a winning record against OU. Although, since 1971, OU leads the series 23-19-3. OU has won four of the last six meetings. The Texas-OU series began in 1900, has been played in Dallas since 1912 and at the Cotton Bowl since 1929. An unranked Texas has faced a ranked Oklahoma eight times since 1989. UT has won six out of those eight games. Texas has covered the spread the last three times it's been a double-digit dog in the series (2013 - OU was minus-12 and Texas won ... 2014 - OU was minus-16 and won 31-25 ... 2015 - OU was minus 16 and Texas won). As of midday Wednesday, the guys in the desert are saying OU - 10 or -10 ½.
Food - - - Advantage Texas and it’s a slam dunk. Apparently, Oklahoma and Louisiana are the only two states to have an official state meal. For Oklahoma it is: fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries (state fruit), chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
The counter from Texas would be: Anything on a stick, Chicken-fried steak, TEXAS style barbecue, chili, any Taco/Tex–Mex, pecan pie, Blue Bell ice cream (sans recalls), beverage of your choosing, Dr. Pepper. I’m sure you all can add 100 more…At this exact moment I stopped writing and visited three separate establishments for a small sampling of various items.
Field General - - - Advantage: OU barely
Have to go with the numbers and experience but I believe in Shane Buechele. Baker Mayfield has thrown for 1,067 yards this year. 78-115 on pass attempts. Nine TD’s and two interceptions. His efficiency rating of 168.70 ranks 11th in the FBS. Oklahoma loves to move Mayfield around a lot, changing his launching point each play to remain unpredictable. Mayfield is a threat as a runner and OU rolls him out often. Mayfield is a high risk, high reward player. He tries to hit a home run on every play. As a quarterback, there are times when you have to accept that the defense will beat you on some plays. A QB needs to avoid critical errors. Mayfield is prone to make critical errors when under pressure. Sometimes he even makes bad decisions when he has time. This reckless abandon is also his greatest asset because he is fearless and he has a short memory. He has the ability to fit balls into tight windows when receivers are not open. He also will try to “throw them open”, or simply trust that his receiver will win on a 50/50 ball.
Shane Buechele is 78-119 on pass attempts, for 959 yards on the season. He has eight TD’s and three interceptions. His current efficiency rating is 150.4, which is 36th best in the nation. Texas ranks 50th in the country in passing yards. Buechele has proven to generally be very smart with the football. He has thrown 1 interception in each game (except UTEP), with his last against OSU being egregious. Buechele is wise and composed beyond his years. He throws the ball away when there’s nothing there and if he misses, it’s typically in “safe areas”. Sterlin Gilbert needs to attack more of the field instead of simply using straight go routes, WR screens and hitches.
In the trenches – UT OL vs. OU DL/LB’s - - -Advantage: UT
Texas is ranked 12th in the FBS, gaining 261.0 YPG on the ground. OU ranks 40th in the FBS with 130.8 YPG allowed against the run. This appears to be a battle UT can win. D'Onta Foreman will have to play 90% of the game due to Chris Warren's injury and no capable backup. I love that Gilbert rotates backs to keep them fresh but he'll have to be selective. Kyle Porter didn't show much against OKST. When called upon, Texas' OL will need to make their initial blocks and climb to the second level to seal off OU's LB's to clear room for D'Onta Foreman.
Ohio State had great success in pass protection against OU and had moderate success running the ball. TCU had some difficulty protecting Kenny Hill against OU’s complicated blitz schemes. Some scouts have OU’s Charles Walker (DT, 6’2”, 299 lbs.’) currently rated as a second round pick. When called upon, Texas' OL will need to make their initial blocks and climb to the second level to seal off OU's LB's to clear room for D'Onta Foreman.
In the trenches - UT DL/LB’s vs. OU OL - - -Advantage: OU
Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon will be very tough to stop. Joe Mixon has great hands. He made an unbelievable, over the shoulder, one handed catch against Houston. Both RB’s make yards after contact, have good patience and vision. Baker Mayfield is also a running threat. I think UT’s DL can be successful against the OU OL. My concern is the ability of the three players in the backfield. Texas will have to contain Mayfield and not let him scramble for gains down the field. Mayfield is short for a QB (6’1”), sometimes smaller QB's need to relocate because they cannot see over lineman. Keeping Mayfield in the pocket is paramount. OU runs zone reads as their bread and butter. They will use or fake jet sweeps and "pop passes" as well.
OU is ranked 25th in total offense, racking up 492.5 YPG. OU’s rushing attack ranks 49th in the country, amassing 198.8 YPG. Joe Mixon is averaging 85 YPG and 7.7 YPC, Samaje Perine is averaging 62 YPG. This is the key matchup of the game. UT can't count on their secondary. The DL and LB’s will need to be very disruptive if UT expects to win. Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler haven’t shown enough to warrant confidence. Those guys have the talent to get it done. The question is will they?
On an island - UT WR vs. OU DB’s - - - Advantage: UT
John Burt (UT’s deep threat) is currently dealing with a hand injury. OU allows 298.5 YPG through the air, ranking 116th in the country. Texas ranks 50th with 256.3 YPG through the air. Granted, OU has already played against Houston, TCU and Ohio State. That's a pretty good trio of QB's. To their credit, I did see OU's DB's turn and locate the ball and bat it away against TCU at least three times last week. Texas is deep at WR with John Burt, Jake Oliver and Jacorey Warrick leading the way.
On an island - UT DB’s vs. OU’s WR’s - - - Advantage: OU
Sheesh, where do I start? Texas is allowing a pitiful 274.8 YPG, 105th in the nation. OU’s Dede Westbrook (#11) is very fast and agile. He will give UT headaches. The coverage from UT was better last week against OKST. Poor tackling was the main issue. OU does a good job of staying balanced with run/pass distribution and utilizes the play action game off the zone read. OU tries everything in the passing game. Screens, passes to the backs, short, intermediate and deep balls. OU operates primarily out of the shotgun.
Not so special teams - Advantage: OU
OU’s special teams are dangerous with Sophomore Joe Mixon being an X factor in the return game. Mixon averages 30.3 a return and is ranked 13th nationally on KO returns. Mixon had a TD on a KO return against OSU (albeit he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line, refs missed it). Joe Mixon also leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards per game at 191.5 per game. OU’s punter, Austin Seibert is averaging 42.5 per punt. Out of 16 punts, Seibert has pinned 6 kicks inside the 20 and has zero touchbacks. Seibert booted two 50+ yard punts in 2016. Seibert handles the place kicking as well. Seibert is 4/6 on the year. His long is 39 yards. He missed a short one from the hash against OSU in the 1st quarter. He also barely missed a 53 yarder against Houston that was subsequently returned for a TD. Oklahoma allows 21.54 on kickoff returns, ranking 81st in the FBS. When covering punts, Oklahoma is ranked 78th, allowing 9 yards per return.
Trent Domingue is 5/8 for FG's (62.5%). He missed two against Cal that were long but makeable (49 yards and 53 yards respectively). He then missed one (46 yards) at OSU after having 3 PAT’s blocked earlier in the game. Domingue has a long of 43 yards this year. Michael Dickson is averaging 49.1 yards per punt. He has pinned opponents inside the 20 yard line 8 times. Dickson’s has boomed 11 50+ yard punts. Texas has no return game to speak of, ranking 98th in the nation on KO returns, averaging 18.71 yards per return. This affects field position even more than it would in the past considering that the ball is spotted at the 25 yard line on touchbacks. UT is ranked 74th when covering KO’s, allowing 21.40 yards per return. Texas is ranked 59th on punt returns gaining 8.79 yards per return. When punting, Texas allows 8.83 yards per return, that ranks 75th in all of the land.
Both teams are identical in average TOP at 28:37 a game.
OU – Houston analysis - - - OU 23 – Houston 33
OU got beat deep many times in this game but Houston missed on some deep passes too. Shane Buechele is more accurate than Greg Ward Jr., Buechele will have a chance to make some big plays. Houston’s WR’s made some very athletic catches. Ward threw to the back shoulder a lot. OU was worried about Ward's mobility and it showed. On a roll out to the right, Ward threw back to the left on a late release to the former UT attendee RB Duke Catalon. OU ran a lot of 3 man fronts, especially against 4 and 5 WR sets. OU ran the speed option a few times.
OU tackled poorly at times in this game. Houston did well to contain Mayfield. The game turned on the missed FG returned for a touchdown. I think OU could have easily won the game if that play doesn't occur. Up until that point, the game was very even (from an eye test standpoint).
However, good teams overcome things like that. The final score was 33-23. That’s a 7-10 point swing (Missed FG and TD return). Houston was leading 19-17 in the 3rd quarter at the time. The difference in the game was turnovers. OU turned it over twice (three times if you count the missed FG returned for a TD) and UH turned it over once. Houston got 7 points off two turnovers or 14 off of three if you want to count the missed FG return. Most of the other major box score stats were nearly identical between the two teams. Houston had 8 more first downs and 11 more minutes of TOP though.
OU – OSU analysis - - - OU 24 – OSU 42
OU did some things well against Ohio State. The difference was that Ohio State scored TD’s and OU had to attempt two FG’s and had 2 interceptions in the first half. Ohio State might be the best team in the country. If they aren’t they are certainly very close. Ohio State has and will make a lot of teams look bad this year. OU forced OSU into 3rd down 14 times (OSU was 6-14 on third down) including multiple 3rd down and goal to go situations. OU just couldn’t get off the field enough on 3rd down (sound familiar?). OSU ran for 291 yards. OSU was great in pass protection, J.T. Barret was very comfortable, he didn’t face a lot of pressure from OU. OSU threw three “jump ball” TD’s and a long developing comeback route to Noah Brown. Sadly, Texas does not have a WR that they can throw jump balls to.
OU – TCU analysis - - - OU 52 – TCU 46
Obviously 46 is a lot of points to give up but I'll focus on what OU did well. OU held on to beat TCU. They were up 49-24 going into the 4th quarter. TCU came storming back. With the score 49 – 46, OU drove the field and kicked a FG to go up 52-46. OU thwarted TCU’s final drive. Hopefully for UT that’s a sign of mental weakness or defensive weakness on OU's end.
OU used a ton of 3 man fronts. If TCU had a back or multiple backs in the backfield, OU would run a 3-4. If it was a 5 wide set, they would have a 3 man front and a middle or outside linebacker in the box. OU rushed four or more most plays. They blitzed from everywhere on the field. LB’s, DB’s it didn’t matter. OU did a great job of disguising their blitz. A DB would be lined up on a WR and then suddenly rush Kenny Hill. OU was very good about not tipping their hand pre-snap. They stunted/twisted and came from various angles, causing confusion for Hill and the OL.
There were moments defensively when OU showed discipline in maintaining good gap integrity to keep Kenny Hill in the pocket. Their DB’s also did well to turn and find the ball in flight. The offensive play calling for OU was varied regarding the type of play that was called. Screens, short, medium and long passes. Zone reads, shotgun and a flea flicker.
Why has Texas been the more physical team the last three years?
2015 UT wins 24-17
This is always tough to answer. Motivation, fear of losing, frustration, a philosophical change etc. could all explain why less talented teams win games they shouldn’t. Football is about will, discipline, speed and strength. Offensive lineman love to run block. I am sure that the OL was excited and took pride in the game plan. Texas only threw 12 times. Clearly, that was the right thing to do as Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes were very raw. It didn’t hurt that the front seven played amazing and made Mayfield look bad with a QBR of 32.
2014 - OU wins 31-26
Sooners only had 29 yards of offense in the 1st half. Texas ran for 148 yards. OU only had 103 on the ground. The sooners could only muster 11 first downs and 232 total yards. The difference was turnovers.
2013 – Texas wins 36-20
The players played hard for Mack in this one. UT had 255 rushing yards to OU’s 130. UT held OU to 2-13 on 3rd down and forced two turnovers. 133 yards passing for OU.
Prediction - OU wins 45-31
RED RIVER SHOOTOUT SPECIAL - 3 MONTHS FOR PRICE OF 1 - EXTENDED TIL MIDNIGHT! TODAY ONLY!!
As Texas and Charlie Strong enter a make-or-break part of the schedule, get the best UT team and recruiting coverage for the next three months for the price of one - just $4.95 - as part of HD's RED RIVER SHOOTOUT SPECIAL! TODAY ONLY!
1. Join the HD family right now by selecting the "1-Month Pass" option RIGHT HERE (no promo code required)!
2. Then, head over to the "Horns House" forum at HornsDigest, where you can find all the insider information on Texas, where Charlie Strong stands and the future of the Big 12.
3. Enjoy HD’s attack-free message board community, where you are pulling up a bar stool among friends, and, of course, unparalleled insider information from Chip Brown, who has 25 years worth of connections covering Texas; Jason Higdon, the Yoda of Texas recruiting; and team and recruiting coverage from HD senior reporter and site manager Taylor Estes!
TODAY IS THE ONLY DAY OF THE OFFER! IT ENDS TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT CT!