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The Huddle: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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We preview Saturday's game as the Oklahoma Sooners visit the Texas Tech Red Raiders. We revisit an old friend in Eddy Clinton, track the uniforms, look at key players and keys to the game and so much more.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Funny How These Things Work. I usually write this introduction and longer piece during the course of the week. Bit by bit and piece by piece.  The days of being able to sit down and write a preview in one night have gone by the wayside, especially the longer that I'm a full-time dad.

Game Information
Texas Tech
vs.
Oklahoma

When: November 15th @ 2:30 pm
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium | Lubbock, TX
Watch: ESPN
Key Injuries: Jordan Davis, Jah'Shawn Johnson, Keland McElrath, Chris Payne, Donte Phillips, Davis Webb

I received two emails yesterday (and yes, I'm behind on responding to emails, but I did give some legal advice to RdrPwr, but I'm totally not representing him, just helping a bit, about purchasing property for the back taxes) about things that aren't really related to Texas Tech football all that much, but we, the community of VTM are lucky enough to have connections with both of these things.

Earlier this year, I was given the heads up, that VTM's very own Eddy Clinton was going to be featured in a short documentary about Eddy being the play-by-play voice for the most famous football game ever, Plano East vs. Tyler John Tyler.  If you want to get in touch with Eddy, here's his LinkedIn Profile and SB Nation's Jon Bois review of that game is fantastic.  If you remember when we spoke to Eddy and this is something that you can put away in your memory banks, that Eddy owns the rights to that game.  He paid $200.00 right after the game and now owns the rights to the game.  Here's a refresher from our interview:

As it is unfolding my broadcast training tells me to shut the hell up after I state "Ohhhhh my." Then Zoffutto makes broadcast goal with "Oh garsh, God bless those kids, I'm sick, I want to throw up."

Following the game my crew headed in one car back to Plano. We had a six pack for six of us. Not one word was spoken the entire trip. We were tired, hoarse, drained and heart broken for our kids. Sunday the Dallas Morning News had no coverage of the game because it ended so late. The local stations had no video because of the lateness. The NBC station, channel 5, had gone to the cable company and gotten footage. Denny called me at 10:20 pm Sunday night and said we were about to be on the sports. Sports director Scott Murray introduced the 3:30 segment this way. "It was an incredible game, but wait til you hear the idiots broadcasting this game." Murray then sent the footage up the network lines and the game went worldwide. Monday morning at 8 am I got a call from David Letterman who requested a tape of the game. Then ESPN, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution etc. were calling. I went to the cable company and told the general manager I wanted to buy the rights to the game. He ask why in the world would I pay for that and how much would I pay. I wrote him a check for $200 bucks and it was all mine!

Earlier this week, that short documentary was dropped and Bleacher Report did a fantastic job of re-telling that game and that story, complete with Eddy in a Texas Tech polo (way to represent!) and former Plano East players talking about the game:

There Are Three Ways. By my estimation, there are three paths to Lubbock from the Dallas / Ft. Worth area and it all depends on where you stay and where you want to drive.  Most of us that live in either DFW or the Houston area have made that drive more times than we'll ever remember and we'll never regret one trip.  All 6 or 7 or 8 hours, depending on where you stay and never once regrettable.  I think most of us can either take 380 if you stay in the north part of the DFW, you can take 180 if you  live near the central to southern part of DFW and you can take I-20 if you want to speed past everything.

In all of my years of driving to and from Lubbock, I've never once taken I-20.  Everyone tells me that it's faster and that, by itself, is the reason I avoid it.  Oh, I'm sure it might be a bit faster, but "getting there" and "getting back" was never part of the plan.  The plan is to enjoy the drive.  The silence and the quiet and the drive is the point.  I always hope that the weather is such that I can roll down the windows and just hear the breeze whipping through my ears.  Saving for adoption #2 and not being able to make it to Lubbock on a regular basis makes me appreciate it even more.  I always take 180. Always. My favorite three towns are Breckenridge, Albany and Anson. Distinctly small towns with unique stories and buildings.

ESPN's Wright Thompson writes about nine stops along the way across the great State of Texas.  If you've never read Thompson, you must because he's a fantastic story-teller and you should take the time to read about his journey:

Each Texas story is incomplete without the pavement that connects it to all the stories that come before and after. The live oaks of East Texas bleed into the suburbs and skyscrapers of the Metroplex, which bleed into the cotton fields and barren plains out west, mesquite trees clustered by the road. Football is a cousin of these things, not a pastime to be thoughtfully debated but a geological formation, like a plateau or a reservoir of oil, one of those roots sunk down in the earth. And even as the state of football is seen as murky in many places across the country, in the football state, the game endures. That's an important word to Texans. We all learned about manifest destiny in school, most of us while living in a city or close to one, reading about how we made a great, unsettled continent our own, closing the frontier with the 1890 census. Only that's a myth. In some places, especially in Texas, the frontier is reopening -- the population of a county declining below the threshold of six or fewer people per square mile -- the towns settled in that mad rush west drying up and blowing away. Even Sweetwater, Texas, famed for the lakes it built to entice railroad tracks, is running low on water. Its football team was undefeated as of early November, running an unstoppable spread, and people packed the stadium when not praying for the fracking operation in the Permian Basin to bring more jobs. Existence is hard, and people live and die -- not in concert with the land but in combat against it.

The myth of manifest destiny lies at the heart of so many national conflicts; there are, in fact, two countries, the modern one firmly settled and the fragile one still fighting to keep those long-ago planted roots alive. Football is an expression of, and an escape from, and a symbol of hope for, that old nation. These are the things you feel only on the blacktop of Texas, where the stories begin to echo one another, and when the state's obsession with football starts to make sense.

This is us.

Uniform Tracker. Because at the heart of it all, VTM is a fashion blog.

Uniform Tracker
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result Photo Photo Credit
Central Arkansas W, 42-35 Michael C. Johnson -
USA Today Sports
UTEP W, 42-35 John Weast
Arkansas L, 49-28 John Weast
Oklahoma State ** L, 45-35 Brett Deering
Kansas State L, 45-13 Scott Sewell
West Virginia L, 37-34 John Weast
Kansas W, 34-21 Michael C. Johnson
TCU L, 82-27 Ronald Martinez
Texas*** L, 34-13 John Weast

* Click photos to embiggen.
** The color intended to be depicted is ombré.
***Not exactly sure how to represent the tri-colored helmets of red white and blue and am going with blue as it was the most prominent color.

Quotes

There was no transcript of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops, so I'm out of luck and so are you.  Of all of the sites to not have any sort of transcript of their head coaches, I'm surprised it's Oklahoma, which is usually really terrific for information and has one of the best college sites around. They have the video, but no transcript.

Stats

Stat
Total Offense 475.1 (26) 472.3 (27)
Rushing Offense 225.0 (25) 152.0 (80)
Passing Offense 250.1 (49) 320.3 (9)
Scoring Offense 38.4 (14) 28.4 (69)
Total Defense 401.4 (70) 502.1 (117)
Rushing Defense 121.2 (19) 245.6 (119)
Passing Defense 280.2 (111) 256.6 (98)
Scoring Defense 24.7 (48) 41.6 (121)
Turnover Margin 0.33 (41) -1.33 (123)
3rd Down % Off. 40.0% (66) 41.9% (56)
3rd Down % Def. 40.0% (74) 43.0% (91)
Yds/Play Def. 5.20 (47) 6.15 (101)

Before the season started, I very much thought that Oklahoma was going to have a defense that would rip opponents’ hearts out and tear them to shreds and then Eric Striker would run over your heart before you realized what had happened. That really hasn’t happened and I’m a bit surprised that the Oklahoma defense hasn’t been better. The rush defense has been dominant, and even last week against Baylor, it wasn’t bad, allowing 148 yards on 52 carries. Yes, 52 carries, for less than 3 yards a carry. Don’t think that you’re going to run on Oklahoma, but that pass defense. Those aren’t a fluky average, that’s some pretty good offensive teams putting up some real good numbers against that pass defense.

Offensively, I suppose I am a bit surprised that the Sooners aren’t a better offensively, but maybe this is what you when you have a quarterback that isn’t a great passer (but I promise he will be on Saturday because that’s what happens against the Texas Tech defense). That’s a shot and I’m sorry. Still, Texas Tech has had issues, even with marginal passing quarterbacks and Knight certainly satisfies that requirement and it could be even worse if Shepard plays. I don't know what to think if Thomas gets in the game, but he was highly regarded coming out of high school. But that running game is going to be really problematic for Texas Tech, I think, as Oklahoma has multiple options in terms of running threats.

And one more quirk about the Oklahoma stats, which is that the turnover margin is deceiving in that the Sooners are +6 on the road and -3 at home. Yes, that’s right, they are significantly better at takeaways on the road than they are at home and it’s pretty staggering. The Sooners have 12 takeaways on the road to only 4 at home.

Tweets

Don't forget, get to the John Walker Soccer Complex tonight at 5:00 pm!

And then tip-off for the Lady Raiders starts at 5:30 pm!

And then it's Tubby Time at 8:00 pm!

Five Things

1. Three Players to Watch on Offense for Oklahoma.

1) QB Trevor Knight (6-1/201) or QB Cody Thomas (6-4/211): I think this is the first time that I’ve every looked up Knight’s height and weight and I’m surprised that he’s only 6’1". I thought he was bigger for some reason, taller, but that’s not at all the case. Oh, and we have an injury on our hands, which means that it could be Knight or Cody Thomas, a redshirt freshman who was thought to forgo playing football to play baseball. From everything that I've read, Thomas a bit more of a pocket passer than Knight and Knight is more apt to scramble and make things happen with his feet. Thomas only has 16 passing attempts all year, so if Knight can't go, Thomas is going to be pretty inexperienced and that bodes well for Texas Tech.  As of the Thursday, Stoops noted that Thomas would get the start.

2) WR Sterling Shepard (5-10/195): Shepard didn’t play against Baylor, which of course he’s just getting healthy for Texas Tech or he could simply not play. Shepard has been dominant for the Sooners, 50 catches for 957 yards and 5 touchdowns. And truthfully, it has been the Shepard and Durron Neal show for the most part as Neal has 36 catches for 440 yards. The other two options are K.J. Young and Michiah Quick, who both have 16 catches and 177 yards. Not a lot of experience behind Neal and Shepard.

3) RB Keith Ford (5-11/206) or RB Samaje Perine (5-11/243): Yeah, pick your poison here, because obviously, this is going to be a huge problem for Texas Tech whether it is Ford or Perine. Ford is returning from injury a bit and so he’s essentially pretty danged fresh for all intents and purposes, while Perine has been a workhorse for Oklahoma and been overall incredibly terrific. Perine has 788 yards rushing on the year on 155 carries for about 5 yards a touch and 11 touchdowns. If Ford is healthy, he'll break any play for big yards and he averages about 10 yards a carry thus far.

2. Three Players to Watch on Defense for Oklahoma.

1) LB Eric Striker (6-0/221): This is Le’Raven Clark’s nemesis and if he wants to prove himself this year, he’s got to be absolutely spot-on against Striker, who hasn’t had the best year (it’s been very good) and this is the type of player that Clark struggles with defensively. I don’t know if this means that maybe the best way to contain Striker is to run right at him, which means the interior of the line needs to be blocking people up as well.

2) LB Geneo Grissom (6-4/252): Opposite of Striker is Grissom, who has 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Reshod Fortenberry tends to play up in situations like this, so I’m not as worried about him, but I suppose this depends who is matched up with which tackle. Fortenberry tends to struggle a bit initially and eventually finds his groove and does okay. He’s not great, but really solid.

3) CB Zach Sanchez (5-11/179): The Oklahoma secondary gave up almost 400 yards last week to Baylor and it was off of mainly one-on-one coverage and Baylor picked on Julian Wilson all day. Wilson was normally lined up on Corey Coleman on the left side of the field and Oklahoma lines up their cornerbacks on the right or left side, with Sanchez on the right side. I don't think Sanchez had quite the day that Wilson had, but that means that Sanchez will be covering Reginald Davis or anyone else playing the Z-receiver position. Sanchez was thought to be a really terrific player after a very good redshirt freshman year, but with OU's issues in pass defense, this will be a point to exploit.

3. Three Keys to the Game.

1) Mahomes Needs to Connect: This is going to play into the item below, but the week before last against Texas, we saw a handful of opportunities where Mahomes just threw the ball deep and to me, it seemed like there was little chance of there being a completion. It was done for effect, but now, rather than it just being done for effect, Mahomes has to start connecting on some of those passes if you want that defense to really honor that deep ball.  Just throwing it for effect will only work for so long and there's a pretty good chance of it being picked off if you're not careful and if your receiver doesn't get up and fight for the ball.  When head coach Kliff Kingsbury held his radio show last night, he noted that both Mahomes and QB Davis Webb participated in practice, but I'd still expect Mahomes to start.  Kingsbury noted that Webb is 80% healthy and at this point, I'd have Webb as the back-up and only to utilize until he's healthy.

2) Julian Wilson Might Want to Get Away: I can't vouch for every pass catch, but it seemed like every time that Coleman was catching passes, it was on Wilson. And I didn't even get to watch the entire game, but Baylor thought that they would and could match-up really with with Wilson and Coleman ended up with a ton of long passes where he just out-muscled Wilson, the end result were some upset words between Wilson and the OU coaches.

3) Muscle Up to Stop the Run: Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sure does seem like that when Oklahoma loses a game like this, they get back to basics and stop with all of the fancy stuff and just try to run the ball until you can prove otherwise. Luckily, it appears that for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders will get back Demetrius Alston and Sam Eguavoen, two guys that should help fortify the run defense. We keep saying it, but until proven otherwise, Texas Tech will need to stop OU's running game.

4. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Win.

1) Possible Inexperience for the Sooners: It seems like a long-shot to have both Knight and Shepard out for the game, but this would be a huge boost for Texas Tech if these players weren't available. And to be clear, I'm not cheering for anyone to be injured or anything, but if Wilson and one of the other receiver back-ups were receive most or all of the snaps, it obviously gives Texas Tech a much better job at being healthy.

2) Two Weeks to Prepare: The bye week really did come at a perfect time for Texas Tech. I have my doubts that had Texas Tech had a game last week that Patrick Mahomes would have been fully healthy and some of those defensive line replacements needed more time. Texas Tech, should be as healthy as they have been, and would be darn near fully healthy if Davis Webb plays. I'll be interested to see how Kingsbury handles the quarterback situation moving forward. This team desperately needs wins more than anything else and I still think that Webb would give this team the best shot against any of the three remaining opponents (I realize that I might be in the minority here) if he's fully healthy.  And that's a big "if" because a bum ankle for Webb means that he's even less mobile that he normally is and I think that would be a rough situation on him.

5. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose.

1) Oklahoma Doesn't Lose Two in a Row: The last time that Oklahoma lost two games in a row was 2003, when they lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, 35-8 and then ended up losing to LSU in the Sugar Bowl, 21-14. It just doesn't happen to Oklahoma and to go more than a decade of having not lost two games in a row is a lot of history. Oh sure, anything can happen, but Stoops can put together a pretty resilient bunch.

2) Just Go to That Running Game: A week after losing to Kansas State, Oklahoma runs for 510 yards against Iowa State. A week after losing to TCU, OU only manages 100 yards against the Longhorns. I'm thinking that the Sooners are much more capable of having a performance like they did against the Cyclones than the Longhorns, especially given the stats for Texas Tech and the trends where the Red Raider rush defense has been most of the year. Oklahoma has been inconsistent at best this year running the ball, but they can also be dominant. Flat out dominant. If the Sooners get rolling, I don't know if Texas Tech can stop them.