In case you missed it, the Texas Longhorns have had some trouble defending dual-threat quarterbacks this season. Unfortunately, defeating the Oklahoma Sooners hinges on containing their mobile signal-caller Blake Bell.
With a depleted linebacking corps, Texas' fate in the Red River Rivalry depends on a big performance from defensive tackle Malcolm Brown.
To say Texas has struggled against running quarterbacks is a drastic understatement. The 'Horns have allowed 440 rushing yards and five touchdowns through four games, with 259 yards and three touchdowns coming from Taysom Hill in the loss to BYU.
The explosion from Hill brought this issue to light, but Texas has had problems with mobility under center since last season.
|J.W. Walsh (Oklahoma St.)||57||0||7.1||W 41-36|
|Blake Bell (Oklahoma)||28||4||2.8||L 63-21|
|Nick Florence (Baylor)||69||2||6.3||W 56-50|
|Trevone Boykin (TCU)||77||0||7.7||L 20-13|
|Collin Klein (Kansas St.)||103||3||4.7||L 42-24|
As you can see, Oklahoma's Blake Bell knows firsthand what he can get with his legs against the Longhorn defense. Jordan Hicks will be out again for the Red River Rivalry, so Bell will look to add to the 114 yards he has already accumulated on the ground.
The problem is that Bell is not the one-trick pony he was in 2012. After attempting just 16 passes as a sophomore, he has completed 71 percent of his 73 passes for 683 yards and six touchdowns through two starts this season.
Making matters worse, Bell is surrounded by talented skill players. Receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard have proved to be reliable deep threats, while Damien Williams and Brennan Clay form a potent one-two punch in the backfield.
Getting pressure on Bell is Greg Robinson's first order of business. The Sooner quarterback was never sacked and hurried just three times as he picked apart the Notre Dame defense for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Forcing him to beat coverage while under pressure will force him out of his comfort zone.
But with Bell's rushing ability and the skill of his receivers, getting pressure efficiently with four guys is the goal. Blitzing will pull much-needed defenders out of coverage, as would using a linebacker as a spy on a consistent basis.
Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed will be relied upon to get into the backfield, but overpursuit would allow Bell to break upfield. That is why the Longhorns need a big game from tackle Malcolm Brown.
After a solid performance in which he had two tackles for loss against Kansas State, it seems the former 5-star recruit is ready to emerge. Brown has great burst from the inside and stands to see plenty of one-on-one matchups with the Sooners fixating on Jeffcoat and Reed.
Whether Brown can take advantage of those matchups is the real question. He has been inconsistent this season and was largely ineffective in Texas' two losses.
Be that as it may, inside pressure is the most difficult to manage for quarterbacks and Brown has the skills to apply it. By getting in Bell's face he would prevent the dual-threat from bursting up the middle and possibly force him into a sack or a bad downfield throw.
Containing Bell and the rest of the Sooner offense will take a great effort from the entire team, but a dominant performance from Brown will give Texas the win, though he has to turn in a career effort to do it.