Oklahoma Football At Cincinnati | Key Players

Oklahoma’s first road trip of the season produced great results as the Sooners smashed Tulsa 66-17 last weekend. Now, they take a step up in competition and have a lot more to lose as this one counts towards Big 12 play.

Team Stats

Total Yards534525.3
Yards Passing358286
Yards Rushing176239.3
Yards Allowed289307.3
Pass Yards Allowed209197.7
Rush Yards Allowed80109.7

The Quarterbacks

Dillon Gabriel has been everything Oklahoma has needed from its signal caller and then some. He’s thrown for 905 yards, 11 touchdowns, and just one interception. More importantly, he’s making good decisions with the football. He’s completing 82.5% of his passes and has a rating of 220.4 on the season.

Gabriel is likely to face pressure unlike what he’s seen to this point of the season. As one game builds on another, this will be a good test to prepare him for what the Texas defensive front is going to bring in a couple of weeks.

The Sooners are going to need Gabriel to continue to do the same things he’s done through the first three weeks of the season, including making good decisions. Yes, that’s our Captain Obvious statement for this post, but he performs at, or near, the pace we’ve seen in 2023 against this defensive front then we’re probably looking at the legitimate leader among the conference quarterbacks.

Cincinnati’s Emory Jones had his first one hundred yard rushing performance of the season. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry against Miami-Ohio on Saturday en route to a 101-yard performance on the ground while also managing 265 yards through the air. The test he’s going to bring to Oklahoma’s defense is going to be containment and setting the edge to keep Jones in the pocket.

The Running Backs

Seriously, your guess is as good as mine here. I would assume this is the week that Jovantae Barnes takes the lead for good. He was Oklahoma’s primary last week against Tulsa, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. As soon as I bank on that, it’ll be Tawee Walker getting the bulk of the carries.

Corey Kiner is averaging 6.1 yards per carry for the Bearcats. He’s built a lot like Oklahoma’s Tawee Walker at 5-9/215. He can be a banger to wear down the defense, but he’s also got deceptive speed.

The Receivers

Look for Jalil Farooq to have another big day for the Sooners. Andrel Anthony has reached the point where he’s going to require extra attention and that should leave Farooq available to have success, both on vertical routes and on short to mid-range.

Xzavier Henderson is going to be the headache for Oklahoma’s defense. Cincinnati’s 6-3/200 senior receiver is averaging nearly seven catches per game and 14.9 yards per reception.

The Defenders

It goes without saying that Danny Stutsman is the catalyst for OU’s defense. He’s the general on the field, and he’s a playmaker. Stutsman has led the Sooners in tackles the last two weeks, and his pick-6 against Tulsa last week was voted as our Play of the Week. There isn’t a linebacker in America playing better football right now than Danny Stutsman.

Pick any Oklahoma defensive end, and he’s going to be key to success on that side of the ball Saturday. Going back to what I said about Bearcat quarterback Emory Jones earlier, you want to keep him in the pocket. If this kid is going to beat you, then you’d prefer that he does so with his arm and not his legs. The Sooner defensive ends have to stay wide, but not deep on Saturday. Do not let Jones out of the pocket!

Cincinnati sophomore linebacker Jack Dingle has 16 tackles on the season and one quarterback sack. He’s certainly a guy you’ll want to keep an eye on when the Bearcat defense is on the field because he’s a top candidate to lead them in tackles. Safeties Byron Threats and DeShawn Pace are also going to be important because they’ll have to figure out how to best keep an eye on Oklahoma’s receivers while also being available to assist on run defense.

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