Keys to a Red River upset

Akshay Mirchandani

Don't let Oklahoma be balanced

What makes this Oklahoma team better than its previous few incarnations are how good it is in the air and on the ground. Oklahoma junior quarterback Baker Mayfield has been tremendous this season after transferring from Texas Tech. Mayfield completed 14-of-25 passes for 320 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a 44-24 win over No. 23 West Virginia. He leads a potent Sooner pass offense.

In addition, the Sooners can dominate on the ground considering they still have sophomore running back Samaje Perine, the Big 12’s reigning leading rusher. Perine hasn’t been as good as he was last year, as he rushed 16 times for only 65 yards against West Virginia. But he’s still dangerous, and Oklahoma also has freshman running back Joe Mixon. Texas needs to try and take away either the run or the pass to have a chance. If the Sooners are able to have a balanced offense, it’s going to be a long day for the Longhorns.

Lean on the run

The lone bright spot in Texas’ 50-7 loss to TCU was its running game. Sophomore running back D’Onta Foreman ran 18 times for 112 yards while senior running back Johnathan Gray added 55 yards on 15 attempts.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard only ran for 23 yards on 12 attempts and struggled through the air, completing 8-of-20 passes for 48 yards. Heard was clearly rattled early on in his first-ever road start and never got anything going.
Leaning on the run and trying to establish a ground game early will simplify the game for Heard. With Heard still developing, Texas can’t afford to put everything on his shoulders. Having a guy like Foreman at running back can help take the pressure of a young quarterback.

Consistent special teams

Special teams continued to hurt Texas against TCU. Senior kicker Nick Rose went 0-for-2 on kicks, and Texas also had another punting miscue. A high snap went over the head of freshman punter Michael Dickson and into the endzone for a safety in the first quarter. Granted, it didn’t make much of a difference since Texas struggled in everything else, but the problems on special teams need to be addressed. If Texas somehow finds itself in a close game, special teams mistakes like that are huge momentum killers.