The Oklahoma Sooners are looking to right the ship after suffering back-to-back losses in conference play. Sizing up the Texas Longhorns in the annual Red River Rivalry, the pairing remains a highly anticipated match-up. Here are three keys to success on Saturday for Lincoln Riley and the offense.
Keep Rattler Upright
Initially thought to be the strength of the team, the offensive line returned plenty of starting experience and talent. However, the unit surrendered nine sacks through three games which ranks eighth in the Big XII Conference. Knowing the stat line impacted the game tremendously last year, the Longhorns will be looking for revenge.
When given time or even when moving the pocket, Spencer Rattler has proven to be a capable thrower despite being a freshman quarterback. Often making the right decision, the arm of the signal-caller is lethal — assuming the receiver makes the reception. But if the offensive line fails to hold up consistently, the Longhorns have the talent to create chaos in the backfield.
Rattling Spencer Rattler will undoubtedly be a priority for Texas in the RRR. It’s the offensive line’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Turn McGowan Loose
As a surprise performer throughout the three-game stretch, Seth McGowan is averaging 5.32 yards per carry as a true freshman. Possessing a burst at the line of scrimmage, the running back has set himself apart from the rest of the group. Despite the success, the Sooners seem unwilling to place full trust in the youngster.
Instead, McGowan finds himself sharing an equal amount of carries with the rest of the room — more specifically T.J. Pledger at the moment. Averaging just 11.3 carries per contest, I’d personally like to see the number to balloon to over 15 and ideally closer to 20 in this game.
On the other side of the equation, the Longhorns have struggled defensively. In combination, the winning team of this rivalry usually runs the ball well. Knowing UT gives up 126.67 yards on the ground per game should be cause for concern within the burnt orange fanbase. Yet, it also leaves room for McGowan to have the first 100+ yard game of his career.
Emphasize Technique & Mental Toughness
In the conference opener, penalties limited the offense far too often. Playing much cleaner in the second week on that side of the ball, the progress must continue. Thus far, the Sooners have been penalized an average of 9.3 times per game for a total of 81 yards each game. Staying mentally tough and trusting the process is something this young but talented group must learn.