Dean's Take: 6 Key Questions Before OU-Texas Game
Question 1: If OU’s defense struggles against Texas, do you think Lincoln would consider making any changes to the staff?
Not this season. He made that clear in his press conference. And in your scenario, even if he wanted to make a change, the elephant in the room is that Mike Stoops is the brother of the man who made sure Riley followed him as head coach. It’s a messy situation long-term, but barring something unforeseen, I don’t see any immediate changes.
Question 2: Do you think Ceedee Lamb, Abdul Adams and Steven Parker will play against the Longhorns?
It’s just Tuesday afternoon, but right now I feel comfortable I saying I doubt any of the three will be a factor on the field Saturday. I don’t expect Adams to play and I’m skeptical about Parker. The loss of Lamb could be fatal. By far OU’s best receiver, his subs can’t come close to duplicating the downfield threat he is to defenses, not to mention Lamb simply being a playmaker in a myriad of ways. It changes OU’s offensive approach and the approach Texas will take defensively. Lamb didn’t practice Monday and I’m told he might suit up, but he’d be very limited.
Question 3: If Lamb doesn’t play, who needs to step up for the Sooners at WR?
First, the fact is Lamb can’t be totally replaced by anyone. Second, his ability to separate is something Baker Mayfield badly missed against Iowa State and could miss more against Texas. Veteran back-up Jordan Smallwood is a physical receiver who won’t stretch a defense. AD Miller is on the depth chart. And I expect Jeff Badet – who actually plays the Z position and was benched after dropping two passes against ISU – to move into that spot a lot Saturday. Wherever he lines up, he is OU’s best bet at explosive plays and taking shallow routes and quick screens and making them into big plays. But no doubt, OU and Mayfield are nowhere near where they were last year with Dede Westbrook when they lined up against Texas.
Question 4: Do you think Tom Herman has the Longhorns headed in the right direction? Is that a bad thing for OU?
I’ve said before he was hired, that Tom Herman is the guy who will turn Texas around. Personally, I’m not big on some of his tactics, but no question he can coach and gets teams to play hard. I expect Herman and Riley to go at it for the next ten years the way Barry Switzer and Darrell Royal went at it and the way Bob Stoops and Mack Brown got after it. Wins will come harder for OU.
Question 5: Should OU fans be concerned that Caleb Kelly hasn’t made the leap everyone thought he would this season? Is he being used in the right way?
Caleb Kelly has shown flashes of the brilliance that made him a 5-star recruit. But for whatever reason, he’s not consistently performed this season the way many expected. I do believe Kelly will have a chance against the Texas quarterback run game to be a difference maker. He’s athletically gifted and must put the mental part of the game with those gifts to be the player OU needs.
Question 6: Are OU's playoff chances ruined after the loss to Iowa State?
They aren’t over, but losing at home to one of the weaker teams in the league has put them in a position of needing help. They’ll need to run the table to have a chance. And right now, that looks to be quite a challenge. Enjoy the game. I’m taking OU in a close, high-scoring game, in large part because of the experience advantage the Sooners have at quarterback.
And in case you missed it, get more of Dean's Take(s) on the big OU-Texas game via this Facebook Live he did Tuesday afternoon: