Todd Orlando has to walk a slippery slope as he schemes for the Texas defense to face Oklahoma on Saturday. Orlando has to protect an already struggling defensive secondary, that has been ravaged by injury the last couple of weeks, from the Big 12’s top receiving corps. The best option for doing this is to get pressure on Jalen Hurts without the need to send extra personnel.
Orlando needs Jalen Hurts to be uncomfortable. He needs the Heisman front-runner to be rushed and not have time to go through progressions. He needs to do this without blitzing. The reason why is simple. Texas absolutely cannot afford to bring players out of coverage. With that understanding, here are some of Oklahoma’s offensive keys to success on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
Give Jalen Hurts Time
For all of the reasons why Texas needs to pressure Hurts, Oklahoma needs him to have time. Injuries along the offensive line haven’t allowed Bill Bedenbaugh’s top five to play more than one game together and all signs are pointing towards that being the case again on Saturday. To combat this I would expect to see the Sooners run motion and miss direction plays as well as roll the pocket.
We can’t stress enough that drawing false start penalties, or flags for holding, is just as effective as recording a sack.
There are only four FBS teams that rank lower than Texas when it comes to pass defense. In the most basic explanation possible, if Jalen Hurts has time then it is going to be a long day for Texas. If Hurts is constantly under pressure and rushing through plays then the Longhorns have more than a fighting chance.
Run The Ball
This actually goes back to the first key. The more successful Oklahoma is at running the ball the better. Be it a committee of backs or Jalen Hurts himself, or a combination of both, chewing up yards on the ground would be a crushing blow to the Texas defensive game plan of putting pressure on the quarterback.
Where the Longhorns are surrendering an average of 325 yards per game through the air, opponents are only managing 116.8 yards per game on the ground. Some of that is due to the fact that opponents are attacking through the air with greater frequency but we also must give credit to a strong Texas defensive front.
This comes off as a game that is better suited for Trey Sermon, or maybe even Rhamondre Stevenson, to run with power, in an effort to wear down the Longhorns, and then use Kennedy Brooks as the change of pace back in an effort to hit a home run type play with him.
Protect The Ball
Last year Oklahoma turned the ball over three times in a three point loss to the Longhorns. The Sooners are about to get the best shot that Texas has which means they will be more focused, more physical, and more energetic than they have been in any game to this point of the season. The last thing Oklahoma wants to do is feed that energy by turning the ball over.
Secondly to this point. As much as OU fans love to hate on Sam Ehlinger, you can’t deny his effectiveness as a quarterback. The Sooners absolutely do not want to give him extra opportunities to have the ball in his hands.
Follow us on Twitter: @SportsHeartland