It always has to be close this year, I guess. I don’t know how close that game would have been had Sam Ehlinger not been knocked out of the game with a AC shoulder sprain on the opening drive.
The 2018 Red River Shootout was a culmination of themes that have been bubbling under the surface for both teams since last season. Texas embraced tempo and attacked the Sooner secondary early while mixing in Sam Ehlinger and Keaontay Ingram runs later. The tight zone play proved very difficult for the Sooners to defend, as was QB stretch in short-yardage situations, and overall Ehlinger demonstrated a well rounded skill set that proved impossible for the Sooners to counter.
Texas didn’t run a ton of different plays or add much, save for their own version of the QB GT counter play which made two appearances (the first was really effective but negated by a holding penalty). The obvious difference in this game was the higher usage of QB run game with 11 calls in this game that became single-wing style runs for Sam Ehlinger and then another 2-3 in which he took the pass option instead.
e knew Texas would have a good chance to attack a vulnerable (and somehow overrated) Oklahoma defense, and also that they’d have their hands full keeping an explosive Sooner offense at check. I’m not sure if anyone foresaw that outcome though, in which the Longhorns were in position to start shoveling dirt on the Sooners before they emerged from the ground like John C Reilly to re-engage the Horns.
Since that fateful 2013 game when Mack Brown’s final Texas team unexpectedly beat down the Sooners in Dallas 36-20, the series is 3-2 in OU’s favor with a margin of Texas +6 and four consecutive single-possession outcomes.
Before I go break down the Oklahoma vs Baylor film I figured I’d post this:
Kansas State used to be the other team in the Big 12 that always exposed Texas. The Frogs were better at it, and more consistently handed Texas embarrassing, blowout losses. When the Wildcats administered a beatdown it often felt like more of a gut punch. Bill Snyder’s second era as K-State coach has been defined by some gritty, walk-on heavy teams that were occasionally among the league’s best but rarely among the league’s most flashy and were always built from very lowly ranked recruiting classes.
This was a tough one for the run game because Gary Patterson specializes in stopping the run and will generally do so at the expense of his pass defense until you make him quit. Whereas Texas last year flooded the field in dime and dropped back, daring opponents to try and run the ball on an undermanned front, TCU will flood the field with a pseudo dime but then overload the box so that you’re running into unblocked defenders.
At this point TCU is starting to generate the kind of fear and anxiety in Texas fans that Oklahoma used to generate. Texas hasn’t beaten Oklahoma regularly this decade, but they’d done it at times and played them close since Mack left.
Not so with the Frogs.
I’ve got the table early this week, I realized it made more sense to chart it all while breaking down the film as part of my prep in writing the gameplan.