If you weren’t ready before, get ready for the Red River Shootout with the IT staff.
1. What does Texas need to do to win the Red River Shootout?
Eric Nahlin: Keep Mayfield contained in the pocket and no big breakdowns in the secondary. If I see him running free in the open field with regularity I’ll throw up at Jamison’s announcement. I feel confident the run will be shut down, otherwise that would be concern #1. On offense, run the same stuff they did versus K-State and protect the ball and continue making hay off RH-M and CJ9 on opposite sides of the field. I think WR blocking could be big as well, at least it was last week for ISU.
Justin Wells: They must continue to play great defense – stopping the run, pressuring the QB, keep OU in long 3rd downs, and limit busted coverages. And not put the game on Sam Ehlinger’s shoulders. A balanced offensive game plan ensures UT has a shot.
Ian Boyd: They need to treat the shootout much like the Kansas State game, with an aggressive mindset and an aim to set the tone as the more physical football team. As Scipio noted, the juices are high in this game and teams are generally well served by having gameplans that allow them to fuel that aggression and energy productively. Specifically, they need to continue to play 10 pers spread and let Ehlinger run wild on offense while they aim to stop the run with a cautious eye on OU’s TE and FB being used as constraints.
Joe Cook: Texas needs to keep everything in front of them on defense. Last year, Dede Westbrook destroyed Texas in the over the top passing game. The Longhorns have prevented big plays over the top, but several times the defense has missed on plays in front of them. No big plays. On offense, QB1 needs to make sure that he is efficient with the football, especially if he’s going to be part of the play 70 times. Protect the football is something they’ll hear many times this week. They’ll need to do it.
Scipio Tex: Defense: Stop the OU running game and Mark Andrews and the Oklahoma running backs in the passing game. Offense: Base in 10P personnel, run the ball successfully against light boxes and trust Ehlinger to make good decisions. The Longhorn offensive staff can’t take time to ease us into this game.
2. Impact players on offense and defense
Eric Nahlin: I’ll probably pick Ehlinger from here on out in every game he plays. He’ll have nerves for sure, but USC in his second start was a good primer. K-State last week was also good. In games versus KSU and USC (on the road) he’s averaging 339 yards. That’s with two double overtimes and a lot of attempts, but still impressive. It would be nice if Texas lined up and ran them over but that won’t happen with this OL. Ehlinger will again have to be the catalyst in the run game. Mayfield hasn’t thrown an interception yet so I’m tempted to overrule Deshon Elliott and his sticky fingers, but I think UT disguises net a few bad throws. Elliott should also be big versus the run. 2017 Malik Jefferson is probably a wise pick too.
Justin Wells: On Offense, it’s the entire OL. If they can keep Ehlinger clean, this offense will only improve. On Defense, I’ll go with Holton Hill. Mayfield has yet to be picked off this season. The Rev needs to lock down OU’s top WR and continue to make plays.
Ian Boyd: Since Oklahoma has neglected to install a half-decent nickel package this season I think Reggie Hemphill-Mapps could have a field day from the slot. If the Sooners try to counter that eventuality then perhaps Collin Johnson deep or Sam Ehlinger on the scramble. It’s hard to know in which direction and by how much Mike Stoops will overshoot with his gameplan but I think the best bet is that they fail to match up with RHM. On defense I think we’ll see them use Elliott to track Dmitri Flowers and take away the Sooners’ FB play-action game, freeing up the LBs to get after Mayfield and the run. So Elliott could have a big day robbing Mayfield’s favorite quick tosses in the middle of the field.
Joe Cook: Offense: Whoever is responsible for blocking Ogbonnia Okoronwko. Defense: Whoever is responsible for keeping Baker Mayfield in the pocket.
Scipio Tex: O: Sam Ehlinger and the Texas WRs have to dominate a disorganized and shallow Sooner secondary. D: We’ll need a total unit effort against the #1 Offense in the country. The front has to win against one of the best OL’s in the country, the linebackers have to spy Mayfield, cover OU’s play action and stuff Sooner runners. Our CBs have the relatively easiest matchup outside – they need to press their advantage and allow Orlando to bring numbers elsewhere.
3. Favorite Red River Shootout tradition
Eric Nahlin: The game, definitely the game.
Justin Wells: Watching drunk Sooners stumble out of the Cotton Bowl pissed off after a loss.
Ian Boyd: Taunting OU fans as part of a massive, burnt orange clad mob.
Joe Cook: One of my favorite moments every year is when the Texas band begins their pregame performance. The crowd, usually inside the stadium, is energized and into everything the band is doing. Hearing 50,000 rowdy fans yell during the fight song in unison is one of my favorite things in Texas football.
Scipio Tex: Upsetting OU when we’re a big underdog.
4. Favorite Red River Shootout memory
Eric Nahlin: Since I’m a Californian who moved to Texas before it was cool, my first recollection is Stonie Clark’s tackle. That still stands out. I also enjoyed attending with Vash and Shuttlesworth in 2010 despite the loss and the company I was with. My favorite, however, was 2008. A bunch of us piled into a bar in Katy. We were waiting at the door before 11:00, about 15 of us, and two Sooners fans. Let the s*** talking begin. With me was one of my best friends, John Johnson, Cody’s first cousin. Cody of course scored three times in my second favorite Texas game of all time. I had everyone there sign my shirt – except for the departed Sooners fans – and still have that bad boy hanging up..
Justin Wells: The best game was 2008. But my favorite was 2005. It had been years since Texas had beaten the Sooners and 2005 was the year that if it happened, UT’s path to the National Championship would become more clear. And it was.
Ian Boyd: Probably Jordan Shipley returning the kickoff to make it 14-3 Oklahoma in 2008. That was a clear “keep it coming, we’ll trade shots with you today” message and the team settled in and started landing big hits after that. Including the famous Quan Cosby de-cleater.
Joe Cook: 2013. I consumed water and Powerade like it was my job as Case McCoy played one of his best games. I’ve been to a lot, but being in school and seeing a team that had nothing going for them respond and win in a big game is a major highlight.
Scipio Tex: 2008 will get all of the love so I’ll hit another era. Some of the forgotten games between 1989-1994 were wild and memorable as Texas repeatedly upset favored and undefeated Sooner squads. In 1989, Gardere hit Johnnie Walker for the game winning TD with seconds left on the clock. The stadium absolutely exploded in delirium. In 1990, Keith Cash caught a late 4th quarter game winning TD for the Longhorns to edge the undefeated Sooners 14-13 after a 91 yard drive when the Horns could barely get past midfield in the prior 55 minutes. In 1992, we won on a 30 yard fumble return for a TD by Bubba Jaques in one of the biggest defensive struggles (and two incompetent offenses) I’d ever seen. 10-7, final. Excruciating, but the payoff at the end was awesome. 1994, I was sitting in the end zone right in front of a freshman James Brown when he ran for a go ahead TD and ripped off his helmet and screamed at us. In the same game, Stonie Clark has his famous goal line tackle to save the win.
5. Score prediction
Eric Nahlin: “Is this kid crazy?” My wife, every time Ehlinger drops back and does something. My response, “the kid plays in tight classics, and he does wild s***, it’s just what he does.” I’m expecting a close game throughout and I think Texas pulls out the win. This is a battle tested and resilient team. It must minimize some of the mistakes lesser teams haven’t capitalized on. 38-34. I wouldn’t be surprised by a higher score or overtime. I was feeling more confident earlier in the week. Hopefully the team doesn’t tighten up like me.
Justin Wells: OU 31, Texas 27
Ian Boyd: Texas 31-24 with a nationally featured highlight of Ehlinger running over a confused and worn down Sooner defender.
Joe Cook: 28-17 Texas
Scipio Tex: 31-28, Sooners. Win-win here as I’ll be delighted to be wrong.
6. Game of the Week
Eric Nahlin: There are other games this week?
Justin Wells: Georgia Tech at Miami. I’ll take the Hurricanes who will lead the ACC with a win today.
Ian Boyd: TCU vs Kansas State is a big game for the league. The Frogs have been good so far but I’d like to see how their ultra-small 4-2-5 personnel holds up to the Wildcat run game as well as how their run game looks against a team with a stout DL and LBs.
Joe Cook: This is the best game on the schedule
Scipio Tex: Ours is the best game. Screw everyone else.
7. Upset pick of the week
Eric Nahlin: Texas over OU. I don’t even care what the other games are.
Justin Wells: Texas Tech over West Virginia. Kliffy and Dana hit the town afterwards, when the real game starts.
Ian Boyd: Texas. Duh.
Joe Cook: Texas
Scipio Tex: Georgia Tech over Miami