Texas’ annual game versus Oklahoma serves as a measuring stick for both teams. It shows where the two programs are in relation to one another, and can often give a glimpse of where either program is struggling or lacking.
In one sense, Texas took Oklahoma pretty seriously in this contest. They didn't really run the base offense that had vaulted them up to a no. 4 ranking in the SP+ offensive ratings and had them looking like the best offense the 40 Acres had seen since 2008 or earlier. Instead, they tried to pick at the obvious Oklahoma weaknesses from unexpected looks and didn't seem to have much confidence in some of the sets that had served them so well in previous weeks.
The Texas defense forced two first half turnovers (forced fumble by Cook, interception by Brandon Jones) in the deep red zone and held Oklahoma and Jalen Hurts to 3 of 12 on 3rd down conversions. In combination with those turnovers, Jalen's third down struggles highlighted his weaknesses as a QB and were largely responsible for OU's 10 point halftime total.
I laughed when I heard that Tom Herman had Greg Davis in the building last week consulting on the game plan and made the expected jokes, but damned if I didn't see Texas rolling out a classic Longhorn circa 2000-2004 GD game plan on offense this Saturday. 3 points at halftime, 3.5 yards per play, and no ability to game plan pressure defense told the tale. The opposite of deceptive is apparent. We ran apparent offense.
Most teams like to make a statement with their first offensive play. We threw a five yard backward pass to a WR in motion where he had to fight to limit the loss due to the ineffective cupcake blocks provided by his fellow wideouts. We kept in script for the remainder of the first half by stumbling, bumbling, and basically hoping to prevent injury. I was reminded of the famous DKR talk when he told his squad there was one helluva fight going on in the Cotton Bowl---too bad we hadn't gotten in on it. Here are the grades:
Entering Texas’ game against Oklahoma, questions existed about the Sooner defense under new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. UCLA, South Dakota, and even Texas Tech didn’t have the talent of the Longhorn offense. The common inquiry was what would happen when the Sooner defense faced an offense composed of talented players? On Saturday, they answered those questions with nine sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and a defensive effort that led the Sooners to a 34-27 victory.
For the second time in a row, Lincoln Riley successfully out-coached Tom Herman in this series and in particular caught him with his defensive staff's gameplan. Texas understandably went into this game intending to work over Oklahoma on the perimeter with the screen game early before circling back to the run game later. That didn't work out, for reasons we'll come back to later in this post, and the Longhorns were easily turned into a one-dimensional team that Oklahoma teed off against with pressures that resulted in 9 sacks over the course of the game.