Texas vs. Oklahoma: Playmakers Who Must Step Up in Red River Rivalry

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2012

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 15:  Malcolm Brown #28 of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after a play against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Even with the loaded schedule in college football this weekend, it is surprising to see how little national attention is being paid to the latest round of the Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners. 

Sure, the game would look a little better if both teams were still undefeated, but this is always one of the most intense and physical games of the season. 

With a rejuvenated Texas team, things promise to be a lot more interesting than they were in last year's 55-17 blowout win for the Sooners. 

To prepare you for this year's showdown, here are the playmakers we will be paying close attention to after kickoff. 


Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

The Longhorns feature a potent rushing attack with three backs who are capable of breaking a big play at any given moment. 

Although Brown doesn't have as many carries as Joe Bergeron, he looks like the best of the bunch so far. He is averaging over six yards whenever he touches the ball and has three touchdowns. 

Brown is questionable for Saturday's game with a knee injury, according to a Dallas Morning News article.

If he suits up, his ability to create plays in the open field makes him a candidate to take over in this game, even if he is limited to 10-12 touches. 


Daje Johnson, RB, Texas

The Longhorns don't feature an explosive passing game, but they have turned into one of the better teams throwing the ball in the country this season. Quarterback David Ash deserves a lot of credit for that, as do the receivers he is throwing to. 

Right now, the Longhorns have five receivers who have caught at least 10 passes. Johnson, listed as a running back, is the fifth one in that group, but also has the highest yards-per-catch average (17.2). 

Johnson only had one catch last week against West Virginia, but he made it count, as it went for 46 yards. He has to create big plays in the passing game to help a weak Longhorns defense stay close against a very good Oklahoma offense. 


Dominique Whaley, RB, Oklahoma

The way that the Sooners have used—or more appropriately, haven't used—Whaley this season is baffling. His carries have decreased in each game, from a season-high 11 in the first game of the year down to two last week against Texas Tech.

When Whaley has gotten the ball, he has done a great job. He averages almost six yards per carry. 

The Sooners have great balance on offense, which Whaley is a significant part of. But there is a lot more he can be doing. That's not to say that Damien Williams, who averages nearly eight yards per carry, is a slouch. 

You just want to see Bob Stoops take advantage of all the playmakers at his disposal. Lately, Whaley has gotten the short end of the stick. 


Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

Whereas Texas likes to spread the ball around, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones clearly favors Kenny Stills. 

However, freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard has made an instant impact on campus. He is second on the team in receiving yards (197) and third in receptions (14). His best game of the season came in the loss against Kansas State, when he had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. 

The Longhorns are going to be geared up to stop Stills, which should give Shepard plenty of opportunities to create plays and blow this game wide open.