Oklahoma’s defense got pushed around by Kansas State last weekend and things may not be any easier this Saturday in Ft. Worth. TCU ranks 9th nationally with an average of 510 yards of offense per game. The Frogs are also 2nd nationally in offensive yards per play with an average of 8.1 yards. They’ve accomplished this without the presence of starting quarterback Chandler Morris (Yes, that Chandler Morris) who was injured in the season opener at Colorado.
With an average of 46.33 points per game, the Horned Frogs’ 139 total points are their most in the opening three games of the season since 2017, when Head Coach Sonny Dykes was previously on the TCU staff as an offensive analyst. The Horned Frogs are churning up 231 yards on the ground and 281 through the air per game. A balanced offensive attack like that it really hard to defend because you have to focus on taking one aspect of the offense away and daring them to beat you with the other.
Kansas State had it’s way with Oklahoma’s defense last week, racking up 509 total yards (234 passing/275 rushing) and 41 points. Now the Sooners have to rebound and figure out a way to improve against another multifaceted offense this weekend. OU ranks second in the nation in tackles for loss (36) and that’s probably where they’re going to start their attack. They will aim to be disruptive in the TCU backfield and attempt to breakup plays before they can get started. This will put pressure on the secondary to maintain tight coverage for what could be a day filled with quick passes. My guess is that Ted Roof will have his guys focused on taking away the run game with a stronger intention on keeping the quarterback in the pocket. TCU has only allowed 5 quarterback sacks on the season but the Sooners will counter with a defense that ranks 11th nationally with 13 sacks and 4th nationally with 96 yards taken away to QB sacks.
Oklahoma’s certainly prepared to put a strain on TCU’s defense as well. The Sooners rank 7th nationally with an average of 513 offensive yards per game and 12th with an average of 7.3 yards per play. Balance is OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s key to success as well. The Sooners are averaging 281 yards per game through the air and 231 yards per game on the ground. Lebby likes to use the run to set up the pass which makes Eric Gray the key figure in OU’s offensive attack. Under Lebby’s guidance the Sooners have recorded 162 rushing attempts while throwing the ball 120 times.
On the season the Sooners are averaging 5.7 yards per carry and have scored nine rushing touchdowns. Eric Gray is one of just 20 players nationally to average 100 rushing yards per game and is fourth in the nation with an average of 7.6 yards per carry. Continued success on the ground will be key to getting Dillon Gabriel in a position to which he can get the ball to Oklahoma’s skill players. TCU is allowing opponents just 100.7 yards per game on the ground so the challenge will be significant but if Gray can move the ball with success then you have to like Gabriel’s chances against a defense that is allowing 272.3 yards through the air per game.
Gabriel has thrown for 1,089 yards (272.25 YPG) and 11 touchdowns to start the season. He’s completing 66.7% of his passes and averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. He’s yet to turn the ball over on the season and that right there may be a key to Saturday that isn’t getting as much discussion as it deserves. OU and TCU are tied for second nationally with just one turnover on the season. Conversely the Sooners are +4 in turnover margin, gaining two fumble recoveries and three interceptions, and have recorded at least one interception in eight of the last nine games (dating back to last season). In a game that will feature two high-octane, and efficient, offenses ball security could easily end up being the deciding factor.
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