Five questions facing Texas on Saturday against Oklahoma:
1. Can the Texas defense get to Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts?
Texas went without a sack during last week’s trip to West Virginia, and Tom Herman noted that Austin Kendall once had nearly 4 1/2 seconds to pass the ball. In 32 games under coordinator Todd Orlando, the UT defense has only four sack-less performances. It followed up each of its previous three shutouts with at least three sacks. Led by the mobile Hurts, OU has only allowed four sacks. Said Herman: “I don’t want to say we have to sack him a bunch. We do have to make him feel uncomfortable for us to have a chance in the back end.”
2. How many third downs will Texas convert on Saturday?
With Biletnikoff Award contender Devin Duvernay at UT’s disposal, it hasn’t been easy getting the Longhorns off the field on third down. In fact, Texas is 43 for 76 on its third-down attempts over this fall’s five games. That .566 batting average ranks second among the 130 FBS-level offenses. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has allowed a first down on only 24.6 percent of the 65 third downs faced by its defense. Only Wisconsin (.159), Kansas State (.208), Boise State (.239) and Temple (.244) have fared better.
3. Which Sooner picks up the most rushing yards?
Texas entered the week with the nation’s 36th-best run defense and only two players have reached 100 rushing yards against the Longhorns. But the NCAA’s No. 4 rushing attack has plenty of options to throw at Texas. Hurts leads OU with his 499 rushing yards. Trey Sermon is averaging 7.7 yards per carry and fellow running back Rhamondre Stevenson has scored in all five of the Sooners’ games. Kennedy Brooks, who missed last week’s game against Kansas with a knee injury, topped 1,000 rushing yards last season.
4. What does Roschon Johnson do for an encore?
Johnson is coming off a game in which he rushed for 121 yards on the road against West Virginia’s Mountaineers. That yardage was the most for a Longhorn since Chris Warren III compiled 166 yards during the second week of the 2017 season. Johnson’s output isn’t bad for a true freshman who signed with Texas as a quarterback. In five games at his new position, Johnson has averaged 4.9 yards per carry, caught 10 footballs and scored twice. On the ground, Oklahoma is surrendering 148.6 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry.
5. Do Herman and Tim Beck have any tricks (plays) up their sleeves?
In the Longhorns’ last two games, offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi has run for a touchdown and tight end Cade Brewer has scored on a reverse flea flicker. In his career, junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has caught eight passes. Will UT run any trick plays against the Sooners? How about a halfback pass with Johnson, who did throw for 2,343 yards and 24 touchdowns at Port Neches-Groves in 2018? “I’m not too sure about that. I don’t want to spill the beans on that,” Johnson said after the WVU win.