Keys to the Game: Oklahoma

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EFFECTIVE SWOOPES

For better or for worse — mostly worse so far — the Texas offense runs through sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Teams like Georgia can work around a mediocre quarterback by using talented running backs and strong offensive linemen, but Texas doesn’t have such a luxury.

Defenses in recent weeks have taken note of Swoopes’ ineffectiveness throwing the ball and have responded by playing press coverage and working to take away the run. Baylor played a huge portion of the game with a single high safety and man coverage across the board. A good quarterback would view that as an invitation to stretch the field, but Swoopes’ deep balls rarely hit their mark.

Oklahoma’s ability to confuse an offensive line and pressure the quarterback will only exacerbate the problem. If Swoopes cannot hit his receivers in stride and stand tall against the pressure, no one on the offense is good enough to pick up the slack on their own and the Golden Hat will make its way back to Norman.

STUFF THE RUN

Baylor’s offense was one of the most explosive in the country heading into last week’s game. The Longhorn front seven, though, was built to stop Baylor’s inside runs, and one of the most potent offenses in the country looked rather pedestrian until a string of three and outs by Swoopes and Co. exhausted the Texas defense.

Oklahoma likes to run the same inside zone reads that populate the Baylor playbook, but Sooner freshman running back Samaje Perine is better suited to bang around between the tackles than Baylor’s speedsters. 

The Texas defense can ruin the Sooners’ game plan if the defensive tackles can repeat last weekend’s efforts by plugging the gaps up the middle. Senior middle linebacker Steve Edmond will have to be up to the task of bringing down one of the most physical running backs in the country.

PRESSURE KNIGHT 

Oklahoma’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight has the mental faculties and arm strength to pick apart a secondary, if given enough time. His inexperienced receiving corps may not always get open quickly though.

Senior defensive end Cedric Reed has been stagnant all season, partly because of the mobile quarterbacks whom Texas has faced. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford may want to loosen the reigns on his NFL-bound defensive end and let him get to the quarterback any way he can. Knight can run, but he has not elected to do so very much this season, and his speed is not such that he can outrun a guy like Reed.

Knight is prone to the occasional bad outing, but the Longhorns will have to force one out of him. Fortunately for Texas, there is enough talent in the front seven to make that happen.