Red River Rivalry | Three Questions About The Sooners

The 118th meeting of the Red River Rivalry kicks off at 11AM on Saturday morning and it features unranked teams for the first time since 1998. That doesn’t mean there won’t be drama though as the Sooners and Longhorns bring plenty of hate to the gridiron. Since the turn of the century Oklahoma has posted a 16-7 record against Texas and the Sooners are currently riding a four-game winning streak in the series.

Defensive struggles and injuries are just a couple of the issues that top the list of things that are stacked against OU at the Cotton Bowl this weekend. The Sooners head to Dallas as 7-point underdogs and the keys to the final outcome not being worse than that hinges on the answers to these three questions.

Who Will Play Quarterback For The Sooners?

There’s been no official word on Dillon Gabriel and we probably won’t hear anything until just before kickoff. That said, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Gabriel plays on Saturday. There’s just too much noise going on about concussions and protocols these days for me to have the confidence that Brent Venable and Jeff Lebby trot him out there against Texas. So, who takes the snaps then?

With all due respect to Davis Beville, the redshirt junior didn’t really do anything that would produce confidence that he can lead the Sooners to victory. He’s listed as QB #2 on the depth chart and is likely to be the starter should Gabriel be absent. That said, it would be logical to assume that he would be on a short leash as well. Who would be next though?

The popular choice here is Nick Evers but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right choice. To me, General Booty is the most interesting option floating around out there. Yes, Evers has the highest ceiling of perhaps any of the quarterbacks currently on the roster. However, among the backups Booty has the most experience post high school. Granted his experience is on the JUCO level but I would think passing for 3,410 yards and 27 touchdowns at that level is superior to any prep stats.

What this comes down to potential vs. experience. When you’re trying to pull an upset in the biggest regular season game, against your biggest rival, then experience really matters the most. For that reason, my money would be on Booty being the best option at quarterback for the Sooners.

Can Oklahoma’s Offense Keep The Defense Off The Field?

This probably isn’t a popular opinion but it’s certainly worth a conversation. Any of the struggles that Oklahoma’s offense has faced are vastly superseded by the defense. Oklahoma’s defense has disappeared in conference play, producing back-to-back performances that were comically bad. Missed tackles, busted coverages, and failure to shed blocks have highlighted the dismal performances of the Sooner defense since conference play began. Can it be fixed? Yes! Can it be fixed in just one week? No!

The staple of Jeff Lebby’s offense has been to snap the ball quickly, run the play, reset the ball, snap it again quickly so that defenses don’t have the opportunity to change personnel or schematics. It had been working well until everything got derailed with Dillon Gabriel’s injury last weekend. Due to the struggles on the defensive side of the ball it might be a good idea to pivot, slow things down, and keep the defense on the sidelines a for a while. Yes, this goes against everything that Oklahoma’s offense has done since the season opener but until the defense proves that their presence on the field doesn’t automatically equal points for the opponents then I feel like you have to think outside of the box.

Can The Sooners Catch A Break…And Then Capitalize On It?

Recently Oklahoma has been giving breaks to opponents more readily than they’ve been receiving them. You would think at some point that the football gods are going to smile on the Sooners and allow them to finally catch a break themselves. OU hasn’t produced a turnover since the Nebraska game and the repeated false start penalties have been absolute drive killers. Then there was Marvin Mims fumble on the opening possession at TCU last weekend or the interception, that would have been a sure pick-6, hitting DaShaun White in the hands and ultimately ended up being a completed pass for the Horned Frogs.

It all has to change and swing the other way for the Sooners to be able to climb out of the 0-2 hole they’re in to start conference play.

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