Texas heads into the Cotton Bowl Saturday with the goal of taking care of business and enjoying a much-needed bye week with a 6-0 record. While ideal for the Longhorns, a hungry Oklahoma team stands in their way. After a 49-0 beat down last year in Fair Park, Oklahoma has been looking ahead to this game for a year. For Texas to win they will need to bring their A-game and not the B-game in which they have played the last few weeks – specifically on offense. The Longhorns need everyone to play well as a team, but these three players need to play well on Saturday to give the ‘Horns a great chance to leave Dallas with the Golden Hat for the second consecutive year.
In the last 22 meetings with Oklahoma the team with the most rushing yards has won the game. That is great news for Texas, as they have been running the ball with great success as of late. Over the last three games Jonathon Brooks has rushed for 488 yards, averaging over 8 yards a carry. The data clearly shows that in this game if you can run the ball you have a great chance to win.
If Brooks has games similar to what he has thus far this season it could be a long a day for Oklahoma’s defense. A good run-game will open up the passing game significantly. If you can’t stack the box or play to stop the pass specifically, I’m not sure how you stop Quinn Ewers and the Texas offense. Teams playing to make Ewers beat them with his arm are playing a very dangerous game.
Throughout his career Barron has always found his way to the football. Whether that be forcing a fumble, blowing up a screen or having a big momentum interception like he had against Alabama, he makes plays. Much like Ewers, Worthy, and company, Barron will be looking to show out in front of the nation as well as for the NFL scouts watching.
Barron doesn’t get a lot of headlines, but he is on level with the bigger names of Texas Football in terms of player importance. He defends the bubble screen like very few at cornerback can. Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby comes from the Art Briles coaching tree, in which much of the offensive playbook is a short screen game to compliment the deep ball. Undoubtedly Barron will be tested by the Sooners in the passing game, and only time will tell if that’s a wise decision.
The Red River Shootout is a game where special teams can win or lose a game. Texas had no issues in the punt game with Ryan Sanborn, however the kicking game with Bert Auburn has had its challenges. It hasn’t cost the Longhorns a game yet but if it continues there is no doubt somewhere down the line it will. Auburn is just 3-6 kicking FG.
While those struggles are real, Auburn isn’t the only one that needs to improve. The snapper, holder and kicker to work collectively to make sure things go as planned. There have been some high snaps and being a tad off on the hold can effect a kick significantly. If Auburn has to kick a field goal early, Texas will find out if he is over his recent struggles. Steve Sarkisian said this week he has trust in Auburn, but Sark’s willingness to go for it on 4th downs in longer field goal range may show if that was an honest answer or not.