Posted October 10th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

The Longhorns and Sooners are set to square off Saturday morning at the Texas State Fair. The two teams, both ranked in the top five, look to be evenly matched and both feature Heisman candidate quarterbacks running the show. As is often the case in rivalry games, it could come down to players who aren’t superstars to lead their teams to victory. Read on to see the five Horns you’ll want to watch Saturday in the [tag]Red River Rivalry[/tag].

[tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag]

Chris “O” had a coming out party of sorts last week against Colorado. The senior running back does a little bit of everything. He is Texas’ best blocker and receiver coming out of the backfield and with Foswhitt Whittaker’s status still up in the air Chris may have the most big play ability as well. [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] tends to go with guys he trusts in games like these. The staff trusts few players more than Ogbonnaya. The kid does anything he asked too and that are the type of players who win games like these. Look for Texas to use him out of the backfield when they get him matched up with a linebacker. Anything he provides on the ground will be a bonus Saturday in Dallas.

[tag]Chris Hall[/tag]

The offensive line struggled at times against [tag]Colorado[/tag]. Forcing McCoy to run when he is not ready has been the recipe for success against Texas and up until that game not many people had been criticizing the big guys up front even with the running game being inconsistent because the pass protection had been so good. Hall has played every position on the line and is counted on to make the right reads and calls in regards to protection before the snap. If Texas can handle OU’s pressure allowing McCoy time to sit in the pocket then the Horns have a real chance to do damage. The holes in the running game have been there, it is on the backs to get to the hole, but knowing the backfield lacks that burst these guys need to hold their blocks a fraction longer. UT has been a block away from an explosive play more than once this year, and if they can pop one this weekend it may be what they need to get a win.

[tag]Deon Beasley[/tag]

These are the types of games that prove being called a “starter” is overrated. With the type of no-huddle spread offense OU runs, Texas is going to run a lot of 3-3-5 with [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] playing end or linebacker depending on the situation, and with Beasley coming in to play the fifth defensive back. The junior has as much talent as any corner back on the roster, and the loss of his starting job has had more to do with the impressive play of fellow corner [tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] than Beasley playing poor. Oklahoma likes to pick out a few guys and try to exploit them. Beasley, along with the two freshmen safeties, would appear to be the guys. One of the corners needs to create a turnover. Brown and [tag]Ryan Palmer[/tag] have shown their lack of hands. A big play by Beasley early could get the Sooners away from their game plan.

[tag]Jared Norton[/tag]

Norton is taking more and more snaps away from senior [tag]Rashad Bobino[/tag]. And with the opportunity, Norton is responding well to coach Will Muschamp’s aggressive, attacking style of defense. The junior from Rowlett excels when allowed to play down hill and attack the ball. He even showed some coverage skills last week with a nice break up on an out route. Texas would like to use three linebackers throughout the game and feel like they can because of Kindle’s versatility, but don’t be surprised if Kindle comes off the field with Norton and [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] at linebacker when UT goes with four down lineman. Stopping the running game will be crucial in this game to make OU one dimensional which will allow the guys on the outside to pin their ears back and attack the quarterback. If Norton can be steady in the middle it will allow the defense to unleash a full barrage of blitzes.

[tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag]

Nobody is sure what [tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag] did to lose his job, but everyone is sure Hunter Lawrence isn’t giving it back. In his first year as the kicker, the ex Boerne star is four for four with a long of 46. The Red River Shootout hasn’t been decided by less than seven points this decade, but I have a feeling this one could be close and close games come down to special teams. The team that misses a field goal or gets a punt blocked or returned for a touchdown is going to lose the game. Big plays have a way of sucking the life out of the crowd and the team at the Cotton Bowl and neither teams that much better than the other where they can overcome it. I’ll take Texas’ special teams because of [tag]Duane Akina[/tag], Lawrence, punter [tag]John Gold[/tag], and kick off specialist [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag]. The Longhorns have the advantage in this area for the first time in a long time, and must take advantage of it to come back to Austin undefeated.


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