In uncharted territory, the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners clash in a heated rivalry once again — this time in the post season. With plenty to play for, Kyler Murray and the rest of the crew are hoping for redemption. In order to avoid a similar scenario as the one faced in the Cotton Bowl, here are three offensive keys to the game.
Avoid Costly Turnovers
On the second drive of the contest, the Sooner offense found themselves in a 2nd & 23 situation. Relying on the star quarterback to make something happen, Kyler Murray dropped back to survey the field. Firing away, the ball missed the intended target and was instead intercepted and return 19 yards. Drawing a penalty in addition to the pick, the Longhorns took over possession with favorable field position.
Again in the second half, Murray scrambled to avoid trouble. Placing the ball on the ground to main a bit of balance proved to be an ill-adviced act. Losing control of the football, the Longhorns once again secured took over possession as Breckyn Hager secured the fumble.
In total, those two Murray turnovers provided a ten point swing in the favor of Texas who claimed the contest by a mere three points. In round number two, Murray must value each possession and refuse to turn the ball over. Needless to say, it was the difference between a win and a loss and it will likely be the case once again.
Balance The Attack
In the first meeting, Murray led the team in rushing yards with 92 as the coaching staff attempted to identify a viable ball carrier. During the outing, Oklahoma amassed 222 yards on the ground including those from the quarterback. But it still seemed as though something was amiss. Possessing the best offensive line in the country, it was only a matter of time until the mystery was solved.
Since that point in time, the emergence of Kennedy Brooks has helped this running back group reach new heights. Racking up big yardage each time on to the field, the Sooners have been held under 300 rushing yards once after dropping the game to Texas. Yet, the ball carriers crossed the goal line three or more times during the same span of time. It’s given the program a new identity as the offense moved closer to unstoppable.
On Saturday, the coaching staff will once again call upon Brooks to carry the load in the back field. Possessing the ability to do so, the offensive line must continue to deliver on the title I’ve given them here. Not only will it wear down the defense, but the tactic should also open up passing options like Ceedee Lamb and Marquise Brown on tailor made routes.
More importantly, a consistent ground game should pave the way to victory.
Convert On 3rd Down
On the year the Oklahoma Sooners have attempted the least number of third down conversions in the country at 113. What this means is that the offense continuously wins on first and second down. When forced into a third down situation, OU converts at an extremely high rate — 50.44% which ranks fourth in the nation.
One team which managed to hold Oklahoma under the season average was none other than the Texas Longhorns. Converting 3-of-8 attempts on October 6th, the rate dropped considerably to 37.50% on the afternoon. Upping that number in the second meeting should pay dividends for the most explosive unit in all the land.