The Battle in the Middle | Red River Keys
– Super K
Among the many things that could determine the outcome of this game and the many battles to watch, I think one of the most intriguing battles will be between the two centers and the two nose guards.
Creed vs. Coburn
Texas nose guard Keondre Coburn is a big strong guy who is surprisingly twitchy for his size. He’s not going to beat you into the gap with any regularity but his twitch further weaponizes his size and his strike.
When he’s able to get in the backfield, Orlando’s pressure points and ability to get guys free to stop the run, work.
He’ll be facing off with Oklahoma’s best offensive lineman and strongest player on the team in Creed Humphrey. Humphrey had to handle Quinnen Williams last year against Alabama. So he’s faced some talented players. But while Williams is much quicker than Coburn, Coburn is a lot bigger.
Due to injuries, OU has a weakness on the offensive line. With both tackles out, they’ve had to move their RG to RT and a backup guard to LT. That’s made them not only vulnerable on the edges but extremely suspect at RG.
If they get one of their tackles back, it’ll fix their situation at RG. If they don’t then the battle between Creed and Coburn becomes that much more important. Because if Creed struggles with Coburn, it could open up things up for the rest of the Texas DL. A guy like Malcolm Roach could have a field day.
Shackelford vs. Gallimore
Zach Shackelford is a great center and he’s been a long-time steady force for Texas’ offensive line.
Texas pass protection has been stellar this season. Occasionally guys will get to Ehlionger but it feels like the, for the most part, there is an impregnable wall around him. Their run game blocking has been lacking but pass pro is a strength.
This past weekend though, the quickness and hands and hips of Dante Stills gave Texas trouble at times.
OU hasn’t really had a dominant nose guard in a few years. Neville Gallimore was a big athletic raw athlete coming out of Canadian HS. The Sooners beat out Ohio State, Florida State and others for him. But up until now, he hasn’t had a major impact.
Grinch leaned him down to near 300 and he’s become a disruptive guy for the Sooners. He certainly looks like he’s working his way into draft status.
So far, he and the rest of the OU defensive line, haven’t faced the kind of talent they’ll face this week in terms of pass protection.
The Sooners have a couple of other young talented defensive linemen like Ronnie Perkins and Jalen Redmond who can be disruptive. So, here again, if Shackelford can handle Gallimore then things stay balanced. Grinch is going to pressure with Perkins and Redmond picking spots, if Gallimore becomes a disruptive force, it could cause a lot of problems for Texas.
Post Practice | Wednesday | Sourced Notes & Quotes
– James Hale
*** Oklahoma continued preparations for their upcoming battle with the Texas Longhorns with a long two-hour practice and I had a chance to talk with players and coaches from the offensive side of the ball with a few defensive guys sprinkled in.
*** OU offensive line Coach Bill Bedenbaugh says Todd Orlando is a very good defensive coordinator and is a tough guy to go up against. He says Coach Orlando has a good concept because he mixes up his defensives, making what his defense is doing tough to recognize. For the most part, Texas runs a three-man front but they will switch to a four-man at times. They play a bunch of different guys in their front-seven very much as OU does.
*** Orlando disguises what he’s doing on defense very well and Texas will be one of the more physical defensive teams the Sooners face this year.
*** Coach B said that the game will be won in the trenches. He said his guys know that and understand that. OU will have a tough matchup with the Texas defensive front but practices have been good so far and he feels his guys will be up to the challenge.
*** Creed Humphrey is the only guy that has played in the Cotton Bowl in the offensive line but the other starters, for the most part, have been in the environment and have seen what it’s like to play in the Red River Rivalry. He knows until they actually play in the Cotton Bowl there is no way to prepare guys for what they’re going to experience.
*** Bedenbaugh says going back to fundamentals will fix the penalties. He isn’t sure that OU is actually committing as many penalties as the calls suggest but he said if his guys will play with more poise and with better fundaments they will not commit as many penalties.
*** Bedenbaugh would not get into what is going on with injuries in his front.
*** I’m told Sophomore Adrian Ealy is practicing and looks close to returning. He’s getting back into the swing of things and could be ready to go against the Longhorns. If he is ready then sophomore Tyrese Robinson would move back inside to guard. It sounds like Junior Erik Swenson is still a couple of weeks away from getting back onto the field and that will leave senior R.J. Proctor at left tackle.
*** Bedenbaugh says he has never gone through a year like this where he has lost both starting offensive tackles and had to be so creative to put an offensive line together. He said that right now the offensive line he’s running out there is the best five guys that he has and that’s what they have to play with.
*** Coach B says the offensive line has been up and down the last couple of weeks. Against Kansas, the offensive line was inconsistent and bad in the first half and better in the second half. Against Texas Tech, the O-line had its best overall consistent game. The guys that are out there are the best they have and they have to perform and play well.
*** Bedenbaugh said that redshirt freshman Brey Walker has been okay and that he’s proud of him for going out there in tough circumstances and doing a good job. He said Walker is young with no experience and has to improve. He works hard and is getting better but still has a long way to go.
*** Coach Bedenbaugh says that by watching film they point out to the players that they are holding so the players understand the difference between holding and not. Again, it just gets back to playing with fundaments and poise and if they will do that he does not feel they will continue to commit a bunch of penalties in the game.
*** Bedenbaugh says Robinson has played tackle for eight to ten days and that he’s been good but not great at right tackle. Coach B says the move that Robinson is trying to do is not easy. He said he’s working hard and he thought Robinson played very good against Texas Tech but was up and down against Kansas. Coach Bedenbaugh says that Robinson is more of a guard but they are winning with him at tackle and that’s the bottom line.
*** Bedenbaugh says where the offensive line is at right now is not ideal but it’s where they are at right and they have to figure out how they can win with it.
*** Bedenbaugh says the fact that Robinson played offensive tackle in high school is not really the same as playing it on the collegiate level. He said it’s totally different for him. Yes, it does give him some familiarity with the position but playing college defensive ends is totally different than playing high school guys at defensive end, and the schemes that they’re running on the collegiate level are much more difficult to run. Coach B says defense’s are moving all the time and that’s the toughest thing that Robinson has to recognize quickly who he is blocking because it’s not always the guy in front of him.
*** Bedenbaugh said that it helps Walker that he wrestled in high school. The fact he wrestled helps him with his quickness and hand placement, and his physicality. Coach B said that it’s not normal how guys in the offensive line have to play the game because they are always bending their knees and walking backward and sideways. The fact that Walker wrestled and played different sports helps him.
*** Junior Jon-Michael Terry admits this year will be a big year for him in the Cotton Bowl because he is now starting and has a bigger role on the defense.
*** Terry admits the ‘Rush End’ is a unique position that does a number of different things for the defense. He likes the fact that it’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades position.
*** Terry says that Texas has a great offensive team and are very physical and feels the game will be won at the line of scrimmage. He likes OU’s chances.
*** Terry says stopping Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is going to be tough. He feels he’s one of the best running quarterbacks in the country.
*** Terry says that the team is practicing well and preparing well and he’s confident that the defense will play well in the game Saturday.
*** Terry says the bus ride is the best part of showing up to play in the Cotton Bowl. He said he’s going to have a bunch of family there.
*** Junior running back Trey Sermon says that Rhamondre Stevenson is playing well and continues to learn more and more about the offense and that’s why each week he seems to be a better player.
*** Sermon says the running game is doing well and will be a big factor in the Cotton Bowl. He feels whoever wins the running game will win the game. He is confident OU’s running game will have a great day on Saturday.
*** Sermon says the Texas defensive front is athletic and they move around a lot so reading what they’re going to do and knowing what they’re going to do is critical against the Longhorns.
*** Sermon hates being called a closer. He said that late in the game OU is ahead so much that they are running the ball in the second half and he just happens to be in the game at that time. He feels he is just as good early in the game as he is late.
*** Sermon hated the game last year but felt he played well. He said the comeback was great but they didn’t win, so nobody on offense looks at the game last year as a good game.
*** Sermon says he does not change his routine of how he prepares for a big game compared to how he prepares for any other game.
*** Sophomore Ronnie Perkins is looking forward to playing his second game in the Cotton Bowl. He said there’s no other game like it and he will be better prepared this year.
*** Perkins says that Coach Grinch does not change for a so-called big game. Perkins says that Coach Grinch is the same for every single game on their schedule. He is consistent with how he prepares the team each week and that keeps the team on an even keel and keeps the team calm.
*** Perkins admits the Texas game is different than any other game OU plays on their schedule.
*** Perkins says he’s not worried about what Texas is saying. He said he’s not worried about their trash talk and that they can catch him and his teammates at the Cotton Bowl around 11:00 AM in Dallas.
*** Junior CeeDee Lamb says he looks forward to playing Texas and that he enjoys playing in big games.
*** Lamb says coming from Texas he always wants to beat the Longhorns so that when he goes home he has bragging rights.
*** Lamb says there isn’t a better game on the Sooners schedule than the OU vs Texas game because the game is on national television and everybody is watching. He says if you mess up everybody will hate it but if you make a great play or do well that will be remembered for a lifetime and everybody will talk about it forever.
*** Lamb says Texas is big and physical in the secondary and rangy. Lamb says technique will be important Saturday.
*** Lamb says he played against cornerback Kobe Bryce in high school and that he’s a very good player that understands coverages.
*** Lamb says that he thinks about last year’s loss in the Cotton Bowl a lot because that was their only regular-season loss last year.
*** Lamb has played in the Cotton Bowl for two years and he feels he will be totally ready to go this year in his third year.
*** Lamb says the bus ride is awesome because on one side they’re getting flipped off while on the others Sooner fans are cheering and going crazy. He looks forward to the bus ride in.
*** Lamb says the key is keeping calm in this game and playing with poise and big plays mean so much in the game.
*** Lamb is not worried about Jalen Hurts in this game. He said Hurts has played in so many big games that playing in the Cotton Bowl will not be any big deal to him.
*** Lamb is not worried about not being tested up to this point. He says OU is fresh and confident and will be ready for a tough game on Saturday.
*** Lamb says the Red River Rivalry game is a statement game and that if you can play well a player will be remembered forever.
*** Lamb can’t wait for Saturday to get here.
*** Lamb says the no celebration rule is no fun but no big deal either. In the grand scheme of things in the game it will not make a difference whether they can or can’t celebrate after touchdowns and all long as they’re scoring touchdowns that is all that matters.
*** Sophomore Charleston Rambo says OU still has a bad taste in their mouth losing to Texas in the Cotton Bowl last year and that the Sooners are looking forward to the game this year.
*** Rambo likes the matchup with the Sooners wide receivers and the Texas DBs. He knows it will be a great challenge but he doesn’t feel like any secondary can stop the Sooner’s wide receiver corps.
One on One’s | Oklahoma vs Texas
– Charlie S
The Sooners are back in action on Saturday as they take on Texas in an 11:00 am start in the Cotton Bowl!
As usual, during game week, I’ve picked out a couple of ‘One on One’ matchups that interest me.
So here we go:
Super K brought up a pair of the matchups we will be paying attention to earlier in the week as he talked about the Centers vs Nose Guards on both sides of the ball so I will look elsewhere for a couple matchups.
One on One number one:
Sooners Nickel Back Bookie Radley Hiles vs Texas Wide Receiver Devin Duvernay.
I was deciding between Sooners Corner Back Jaden Davis vs Texas Wide Receiver Collin Johnson but I couldn’t resist Bookie vs Dev Duv as it will be fascinating to watch play out as each player has a perceived strength over the other.
Prior to this year, the 5’11” Duvernay was pretty much a complementary facet of the Texas offense. Lil Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson were the focal point of the Longhorn aerial attack for the better part of his career but the senior arrived on the scene in a big way with a breakout game against LSU earlier this season.
Through the Longhorns first 5 games, Duvernay has 45 receptions for 463 yards with a 10.3 yard per catch average and 4 touchdowns. Coming into this season, he had a total of 70 catches and 7 touchdowns in his first three years at Texas.
He announced his arrival in a big way when Texas took on LSU with a tremendous performance in which he had 12 receptions for 154 yards which was a 12.8 yard per catch average along with 2 touchdowns. Duvernay had been generally thought of as a speed burner, but in that LSU game, he showed off his physicality as he ran over, and through the talented LSU defensive backfield. Kid was a load to bring down.
When Bookie is in the game, he will be the first line of defense against Duvernay. The Longhorns use the horizontal passing game basically as an extension of their running game which has been pretty much a weak point for them. By getting the ball quickly in the hands of Duvernay, they set up a numbers situation on the defensive backs and with his power, Duvernay typically picks up from 7-12 yards rather easily.
This is where Bookie’s instincts and quick-twitch skill set could play a significant role in the Sooners defense. The Sooners have been working on the Texas game plan for a couple of weeks now and when a defender is confident in what he sees, and he is familiar with a scheme, his instincts can take over and there is no better instinctual player on defense for OU than Bookie. He may not be the tackler you all want, but there is no denying he is generally in the right place at the right time.
If Bookie is comfortable and playing freely, he could be in a position to cause some turnovers or at the very least make Ehlinger come off Duvernay which could lead to pressure getting to him or making him go through his progressions a bit longer. Either way, if Bookie can slow down the horizontal passing game, the Sooners will benefit.
Should Texas be able to get the ball out to Duvernay without much issue, it could be a long day for the smaller defensive backs for the Sooners as we watched Duvernay put some of the LSU DBs on their backs as he ran over them.
Duvernay is not a quick-twitch guy, but he does have speed to run away from people should he shake a few tackles. It will be imperative for Bookie to at least slow him down and allow the rest of the Sooners to continue the habit of flocking to the ball.
One on One number two:
Sooners Wide Receiver Charleston Rambo vs Texas Defensive Back Anthony Cook
The Texas secondary is dealing with some injuries and this matchup could be a huge key to the Sooners taking advantage of them.
Rambo may not have a huge number of receptions on the year because of the way the Sooners have been distributing the ball, but his stat line is quite impressive. Through the Sooners first five games, Rambo currently has 14 receptions for 383 yards which leaves him with a gaudy 27.4 yard per catch average (4th best in the country) with 4 touchdowns.
Texas uses field and boundary corners, so this will not be the most consistent matchup on paper, but with the Sooners penchant of playing from the right hashmark, it will come into play quite often.
Chances are high that CeeDee Lamb will draw a lot of attention from the Texas safeties (as well as D’Shawn Jamison) and that would appear to open things up for Rambo.
If the Sooners can get Rambo (and Haselwood) involved early, it could set up the other receivers to have some big opportunities as the safeties will have to shift their focus. If the safeties are forced to pay more attention to Rambo, along with CeeDee which they already will be, the possibilities really open up for the OU TEs and running backs.
This matchup has the potential to be one of the most noticeable mismatches on the field for either side as Cook will have to play at a level well above anything we have seen from him thus far to keep Rambo in check.
I absolutely cannot see how Lincoln Riley isn’t going to focus on this matchup as a pressure point to stress the Texas defense. If Cook makes some plays early and holds Rambo down, Texas will have the opportunity to get more creative on defense in regards to how they pressure Hurts and attack the run.
If Rambo gets loose early, Texas will have to adjust and that won’t be a good thing for them.
Update | 2021 Sunshine State WR Targets
– Super K
***In the latter part of the summer I spoke with 2021 WR, Agiye Hall (Seffner, FL). Hall is a 5-star WR from Armwood, one of the top high school programs in Florida.
He’s big. He’s fast. He’s a weapon.
There is a chance he and his friend, Mario Williams (Plant City), who is also from the Tampa area will make it for the Red River Rivalry.
Mario is a dangerous player as well. Both are fast but Mario is a smaller more sudden player with speed. A friend of mine saw him live and said he’s basically Hollywood Brown.
Both Hall and Williams want to play together. In fact, I’ve been told they want to commit on the same day, as well.
Both are high on Oklahoma. In fact, OU probably leads for both. Texas has been working to make a run at them as these are the kind of guys that make an offense hum and you certainly don’t want to have to play against them.
The Texas staff has the invite list this week and as I noted previously, the two were planning on making it in this weekend for the game.
I spoke with a source in the Florida area who is close to Hall and I was told that we will have final confirmation by tomorrow as to whether they will be able to make it in.
If they do make it in, it’s obviously a great chance for Oklahoma to make an even larger impact on the pair but it also would give the Texas side a chance to get more involved here as well if their offense were to have a big day.
Red River Quick-Hitters | Visitors of Note
– Super K
As you already know, Texas is the home team this year but there are some players that will be at the game as guests of Texas that are major OU targets. So, this game is obviously a chance for OU to make an impression.
***Still haven’t received word on the 2021 Florida WRs, Agiye Hall and Mario Williams.
***Again, Josh Eaton is a key visitor to this game. His decision will likely come down to OU and Texas.
***2021 5-star OT, Savion Byrd will be at the game. He’s an elite guy and there’s a good chance his recruitment could come down to the two teams playing at the Cotton Bowl this weekend.
***2021 4-star OT, Donovan Jackson says he will also be in town. I’m not sure just how much of a player the Sooners are in this one.
***Brockermeyer’s, not surprisingly, will be in town but I don’t sense OU is a player here.
***A guy who is considering both schools is 5-star running back, Camar Wheaton (Lakeview Centennial). He is expected to be in attendance.
***The two talented 2021 twin wide receivers, Blaine and Bryson Green (Allen), are also expected to be there.
This is another situation where it could very well come down to OU and Texas. My sense when I spoke to them earlier this year is OU was their leader.
***Lastly, I’ll mention that 4-star DE/DT, Shemar Turner (DeSoto) is expected to be in town.
There are obviously additional visitors but I think the above are the key visitors given their status and schools they are considering.
For multiple daily posts, Insider Notes, Our TFB ‘Pick Em’ Contest, More Sourced Practice Notes, member chats with TFB staff, James Hale’s Notebooks, TFB Sessions (5-minute audio talks) and much more, please check the Donor Board!