Over the course of the year, the TCU Horned Frogs have found success behind a balanced offensive attack. Testing the Oklahoma Sooner defense in numerous ways, a resume builder for the College Football Playoff is on the line. Here are three defensive players who must step up for OU.
Robert Barnes | Safety
The freshman, Robert Barnes, likely takes the field in a starting role with Will Johnson sitting out the first half due to a targeting call this past week. Lacking significant experience, it’s an area Gary Patterson’s crew could exploit. Look for receivers to create a bit of chaos in coverage responsibilities with crossing routes and sitting down in zones. However, TCU could also release a back or tight end in Barnes direction to force him to pick a route to cover.
There’s no doubt Barnes has the skills an instincts to play at this level Yet, depth and experience continue to remain a concern in the secondary with several injuries including those to Jordan Thomas and Kahlil Haughton.
Obo Okoronkwo | Defensive End
Over the course of his career, Obo Okoronkwo has grown into one of the nation’s best pass rushers. Knowing Oklahoma will play several true freshmen on the defensive side of the ball, Okoronkwo’s role increases drastically. The coaching staff will count on the senior to wreak havoc in the backfield taking the pressure off the youngsters.
Yet, he’ll also be responsible for containing a quarterback with the ability to run. Setting the edge forces the ball carrier back inside and into traffic. The defensive side of the ball has been the biggest question mark for Oklahoma through the season. This is one more opportunity to answer those questions and it starts with Obo.
Parnell Motley | Cornerback
The sophomore won the starting job at the beginning of the season. After being removed for ineffectiveness against Oklahoma State, Parnell Motley will once again be forced to compete for his starting role. On the season, Motley has recorded two interceptions which is more than any other player on the roster. The raw talent and ability is there but coaches are now looking for consistency. This weekend is an opportunity to lock down a receiver and hopefully secure a win.