Oklahoma Sooners

Red River Rivalry | Here’s What You Need To Know About The Longhorns

M. Hofeld

matthofeld

2021 Texas Stats

Record4-1
Conference Record2-0
Points Scored Per Game43.8
Points Allowed Per Game24

The second Saturday in October is approaching and fans to the north and south of the Red River know exactly what that means. As the Burt Orange and Crimson clad fans converge at the Cotton Bowl they’ll be in for a Top 25 showdown once again. It’ll mark the third consecutive year that the Sooners and Longhorns have traveled to Dallas with national rankings. Texas barely made it, entering the Top 25 (#21) this week after their securing a third-consecutive win following the loss to Arkansas.

2021 Texas Football Results
OpponentResultScore
Louisiana W38-18
@ ArkansasL40-21
RiceW58-0
Texas TechW70-35
@ TCUW32-27

As far as scoring goes, offense hasn’t really been a struggle under first year head coach Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns rank 6th nationally with and average of 43.8 points per game. While the end result is there, the mechanics of how they arrive to the point totals is an entirely different issue. The passing game has been a crazy ride which features a quarterback change and inconsistency at the receiver position.

Casey Thompson supplanted Hudson Card during the Arkansas game. He’s the first Oklahoma prep to start at quarterback for Texas and he’s been pretty spectacular since his insertion as the starter. Not only is Thompson sitting on a 3-0 record as a starter, he’s also completing 71% of his pass attempts on the season for 707 yards and nine touchdowns. His mobility has helped with some of the offensive line breakdowns. Card had been sacked six times and Thompson just three. He’s also averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt, running for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Responsible for twelve total touchdowns on the season, Thompson has also thrown three interceptions.

Jordan Whittington has been Texas’ top receiver. The 6-1/203 sophomore has hauled in 21 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Xavier Worthy leads the team in touchdown receptions with four and has a team-high average of 16.9 yards per reception. A total of five different Longhorn players have caught a combined eleven touchdown passes.

The UT offensive line suffered a setback last weekend when left guard Denzel Okafor suffered a season-ending injury against TCU. The Longhorns didn’t skip a beat after Okafor left the field but his absence does mean that Texas will be putting a redshirt freshman up against Oklahoma’s defensive front. Senior right tackle Derek Kerstetter is moving to left guard, replacing Okafor, and redshirt freshman Andrej Karic has been inserted at right tackle to replace Kerstetter. That should be the point of attack for OU pass rushers and should require the Longhorns to not only move some help to that side of the line but also have a tendency to run plays to the left.

The motor that makes the Texas offense run is Bijan Robinson. Exploiting opposing defenses for an average of 6.2 yards per carry, Robinson has run for 652 yards and 7 touchdowns this season. Robinson’s highlight of the season, to this point, came last weekend in Ft. Worth when he rushed for 216 yards, and two touchdowns, against TCU. The only game this season that he’s failed to crack the century mark is also the only game this season that the Longhorns lost. Arkansas held Robinson to season-low of 3.6 yards per carry, yielding just 69 yards on 19 touches. He’ll enter the Cotton Bowl on Saturday as the #2 rusher in the country.

Containing Robinson will be priority #1 for Alex Grinch and Oklahoma’s defense on Saturday. If he’s having a good day then it’ll most likely translate into a long afternoon for the Speed D.

Things haven’t gone quite as well for the Longhorn defense in 2021. While they have a shutout win to their credit this season, they also gave up 333 rushing yards to Arkansas and 324 passing yards to Texas Tech’s backup quarterback.

Texas is giving up nearly 400 yards of offense per game (394.4) and 24 points to its opponents. In theory the Sooners should be able to provide a balanced attack against this defense but a priority must be placed on running the ball. On average the Longhorn defense is giving up 170 yards on the ground to opponents. Even in loss last week TCU averaged 4.1 yards per carry and recorded 169 rushing yards.

The Texas pass rush is averaging two sacks per game on the season. Led by Ovie Oghoufo’s two sacks, a total of eleven Texas defenders have participated in quarterback sacks in 2021. Texas has forced seven turnovers this season with four of them coming by way of fumble recoveries. Corner Josh Thompson has recorded two turnovers, recording both a fumble recovery and an interception.

Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown is the top playmaker in the Texas defense. He leads the team with 44 total tackles and seems to be the guy who is in on every play, including special teams.

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