Matt Hofeld is the Editor at SB Nation’s Oklahoma site. Hofeld was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Sooners and give us the Sooner perspective on where Trevor Knight is and what happened in the TCU game. If you’re unfamiliar with SB Nation, take a look – it’s a solid network of blogs for both college and pro sports. They have some interesting technologies that allow them to do cool features, like storystream.
It’s the 109th Red River game in the Texas/OU series – let’s get down to business…
Q: OU played very well in non-conference games. What was different in the TCU game? Was it TCU, or was it self-inflicted?
A: I think to say that it was completely self-inflicted would take away from TCUâ€™s win, so Iâ€™m going to go down the middle and say that it was both. What TCU did was challenge Oklahoma enough in the running game that the Sooners either got impatient or panicked.
Oklahomaâ€™s opened the second half with a run-heavy drive that resulted in a touchdown to put the Sooners up 31-24. On the next drive OU had two running plays that netted just one total yard. From that point on Oklahomaâ€™s rushing attack disappeared. Over the next three drives the run/pass ratio was 10/1 and those passes included just two receptions, a sack, and an interception that was returned for what proved to be the game winning score.
After a shaky first half Oklahomaâ€™s defense adjusted to hold TCU to just one offensive touchdown. Unfortunately, the offense unnecessarily adjusted as well and the result was disastrous.
Q: There are enough data points by now to say the Sugar Bowl was an outlier for Trevor Knight. Agree or Disagree?
A: I donâ€™t see how you canâ€™t agree with that at this point. The Sugar Bowl was the apex of Knightâ€™s potential because we hadnâ€™t seen him play like that before or since. Heâ€™s still young and hasnâ€™t played an entire season of college football yet but he continues to struggle with accuracy and reading through his progressions. Those are mistakes that young guys make and thereâ€™s still the hope that heâ€™ll grow out of them.
Now, itâ€™s also fair to say that the coaching staff hasnâ€™t used Knight in the same way they did in the Sugar Bowl. For whatever reason they are limiting his running attempts and keeping him in the pocket, and thatâ€™s a style of play that doesnâ€™t match his skill set.
Q: Which unit (on either side of the ball) is OU’s strongest?
A: Iâ€™m going to have to go with the linebackers here. They are big and fast which makes them both excellent pass rushers and yet still strong in run support. Sophomores Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans lead the team in tackles with 38 and 35, respectively. and junior Eric Strikerâ€™s 3.5 sacks are a team high.
Thereâ€™s no question that the linebackers are the strength of the Oklahoma defense but I would also argue that theyâ€™re the best unit on the entire team.
Q: The key player for Texas fans to watch for is…..
A: Freshman running back Semaje Perine (#32). At 5-11/243, heâ€™s a bowling ball of a running back who enjoys running over defenders. Heâ€™s averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has a team-high eight rushing touchdowns on the season. Not bad for a guy that started #3 on the depth chart in the season opener. If Perine is having a big day then so are the Sooners.
Q: The one area that Texas should try to exploit on Saturday is….
A: I think Vance Bedford was on track Wednesday when he said that Texas wanted to focus on stopping the run and make Trevor Knight beat them. This is Knightâ€™s first time to play in this rivalry game and heâ€™s having a shaky first half of the season (54% completion 5TDs/5 INTs). If Iâ€™m game planning here then Iâ€™m selling out to stop the run and daring Trevor Knight to beat me.