Blackjack of a Trap Game?

TCU plans on serving OU an upset special this Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley
TCU plans on serving OU an upset special this Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley

By Will Martin

Game Info
Saturday – October 5 – 6 PM
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium – Norman

In the 13 years that I have been fortunate to call Texas home there are a few constants that one becomes very in tune with.

Football is the beginning, the middle, and the end of life in the Lone Star state. As little as 7 on 7 all the way to what the big boys do in College Station, Austin, Lubbock, Waco, or even parts headed Houston or Arlington way.

The pigskin, the stories, and the players who make up such teams are infinite and engrained in memory.

Another constant is that October in Dallas Texas-since 1929-brings forth a flurry of travel, expenditures, smack-talk, partying, social events, and watching parties jettisoned along the old Cotton Bowl at Fair Park within the run of the Texas State Fair.

The Red River Rivalry between Texas and OU is such that you will  get corrected by people in how you say it. ‘Ou-Texas instead of Texas-OU’, ‘Boomer Sooner’ ‘Hook Em’, and other diatribes not exactly repeatable. This game will take place on October 12th.

Can anything or anyone take away from the occasional luster that this game entails? Usually with a Big 12 or a BCS berth attached? Has it happened before where one of these teams dared to fall victim to a trap game the week before or after the big game?

Ask Colorado fans and you’ll get a huge ‘HELL YEAH!’

Saturday at 6pm CST The Horned Frogs of TCU have an opportunity to lay some wood on the #10th ranked Oklahoma Sooners just like on Opening Day 2005 and put a mark on the Red River game with a victory Norman on October 5th. Weather may also play havoc with this game.

TCU will also have a home game in Ft. Worth with the Jayhawks of Kansas on the 12th but I digress…

Staring the Frogs in the face is a 4-0 Oklahoma team led by Bob Stoops (153-37 in 15 years as coach), QB Blake Bell (52 of 73 passing 6 TDs 0 INTs and 171 yards per game), Running Back Brennan Clay (339 yards on 5.7 yards per carry and 2 Touchdowns), and Jalen Saunders (17 catches for 45 yards a game and three scores).

Defensively the Sooners are lead by Frank Shannon (27 tackles, 1 interception).

It took all of the first half for TCU to snap out of it after a 16 day reprieve but the defense came up huge for Team Gary. Yesterday Gary Patterson spoke at length about a multitude of issues his team needs to improve on for the chance at victory Saturday night in Oklahoma.

“We’re now going straight into conference play and will face a very good Oklahoma team. Coach (Bob) Stoops is getting back to playing very good defense and running the football. All their backs are really good. Their offensive line is tremendous. I think what gets left out offensively is their wide receivers, who are outstanding. Defensively, they’re playing as well as anybody in the league and are being physical. I think they’ve only allowed a couple touchdowns in the air. They’re playing very well, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

So what exactly is different about Oklahoma in their approach to the game in 2013?

“Oklahoma is kind of like we’ve been the last couple years. They were banged up and had season-ending injuries to a lot of players, and this year they’ve stayed healthy. That makes a big difference. It’s like that with us. You have to keep people healthy. Very few people can lose a couple players and make it through things. You have to find ways to win.”

Gary Patterson has a lot of respect for the defense of the Sooners and of the Brothers Stoops.

“They apply a lot of pressure. I think (defensive coordinator) Mike (Stoops) and Bob (Stoops) are a bit more comfortable with what they’re doing now, and I think it shows. They tackle well. They’re physical against the run and the pass, and they’re getting takeaways. They’re back to what an Oklahoma team is like.”

Are you content with the level of leadership your team currently is displaying?

“They’re still too young. I think we had more people step up on the sideline Saturday once we got into the ball game, and I think we’ll keep maturing. We’re making a very conscious effort as a staff to deal with them and put people in position. For example, I made Jason Verrett one of the captains. That is what you have to be when you’re one of those kinds of players. It is your job to step up and go be that guy. We’re going to keep moving forward with that.”

Before and leading up to his injury were you content with the leadership Casey Pachall was trying to convey?

“He is trying to be. We need that. James Dunbar has stepped up on that side of the ball. (Jon) Koontz was actually talking to both sides, going down and talking about little things and attention to detail. Those are the things we talked about in the last two weeks, when we had an off week. You have to try and change things when it’s not going the way you need it to. We’ve still got a ways to go on both sides of the ball and special teams.”

So what does TCU need to do to ensure a faster start at the beginning of the game? That’s been an issue each game this far.

“For us, we do purple ball. It’s right after we start the first or second period of the day. We then go good-on-good for a couple plays. We want them to have an understanding that you have to go at a fast tempo, and you have to get ready to play quick. If you look at Oklahoma’s stat line, they outscore people 81-13 in the second and third quarters, and it’s 47-0 in the second quarter. They’ve upped their level of play in the second once they’ve figured out what you’re doing, and they’ve obviously figured it out defensively. I always look at how people start. It’s 27-21 for Oklahoma in the first quarter, and then they start taking over. You have to be able to match them in the second quarter and when they come out of the tunnel.”

Much like TCU, Oklahoma has also infused a two quarterback set with good results. It begins with Blake Bell. Talk about that and what it’s like to play in Norman. You did win there in 2005.

“They’ve won, and they’ve played better on offense. Both their quarterbacks can run. They do some things with (Trevor) Knight they don’t do with Bell. Both of them have those capabilities. You’ve got three or four tailbacks who can really go, and they’ve stayed healthy. Your center and two tackles are guys who have played a lot of football. They’ve kept their five for the first four ball games. They’re keeping them intact and not losing anybody. They lost a couple of those guys to injuries the year before.”

“It’s a great atmosphere and very loud. We’ll do a lot of crowd noise on Wednesday and Thursday to make sure we get ourselves where we’re communicating and ready to go.”

Speaking of 2005 with that 17-10 win in Norman in 2005, TCU gave Oklahoma one of its four home losses since 2001. The 2005 victory over the No. 5 Sooners began a stretch that has seen TCU go 4-2 in its last six games versus top-five opponents.

Oklahoma holds an 8-4 series lead over TCU. The Horned Frogs are 3-2 in Norman versus the Sooners, 1-5 in Fort Worth and 0-1 in Oklahoma City. The first game in the series was in OKC in 1944 with the Sooners winning 34-19. TCU’s 24-6 record (.800) in road and neutral-site games since 2009 is the third-best mark nationally.

For the record the last meeting between TCU and Oklahoma was 12-1-12. In that game Landry Jones threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, Damien Williams ran 66 yards for a score in the third quarter and 11th-ranked Oklahoma held on to win 24-17 at TCU to clinch a share of the Big 12 title.

If TCU can get off to a great start in Norman Saturday look for the Horned Frogs to come away with a defensive victory 24-20. This of course would put a crimp on the Red River game the following Saturday. Last time I checked when you add #10 with #11 that means good things in Las Vegas.

And if you like card games.