Two takes on TCU-Oklahoma

Posted Saturday, Oct. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

TCU last played at Oklahoma in 2008. The Horned Frogs were still in the Mountain West Conference and the 35-10 loss to the Sooners was one of two losses TCU had that season. Five years later, the Frogs (2-2, 0-1 in the Big 12) are finally headed back to Norman, Okla..

Playing Oklahoma is no longer just a measuring stick for the Frogs. Now that they’re in the same league, conference titles and bowl berths are on the line. Sooner coach Bob Stoops is 84-5 at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium so wins don’t come easy for opponents in Norman. Of course, TCU upset the Sooners there in 2005 but that’s ancient history and offers as little clue to what will happen Saturday as the 2008 game does.

One thing is for sure, TCU can resurrect its season with another upset in Norman and reclaim its hopes to contend for the Big 12 title.

To get ready for Saturday’s showdown, I exchanged five questions with Sooners’ beat writer for the The Oklahoman Jason Kersey. Here’s our conversation:

SS: What has Blake Bell done for the offense once he took over at quarterback? Are the Sooners running a more typical Sooners offense with Bell under center?

JK: Bell has been a steady, efficient field general for the Sooners, and that’s something they were really lacking with Trevor Knight behind center. Knight is an explosive, athletic talent and could very well end up being a great OU quarterback someday, but many of his passes were off and he just never seemed fully comfortable running the offense. Despite Bob Stoops’ denials, there is little doubt that the offense is different with Bell at quarterback. The Sooners dialed up a lot more read option plays with Knight to take advantage of his speed.

JK: First and foremost, do you think Devonte Fields will play at all Saturday against OU?

SS: I didn’t think he'd see the field at all until Gary Patterson said he practiced Wednesday and that he might play a little bit. I don’t think he’ll play much but TCU has kept the details on his injury pretty quiet.

SS: The Oklahoma defense looks like it’s much improved from last year. I know it's early, but what are some reasons and who are some players responsible for that upgrade?

JK: The defense definitely looks improved from a year ago. I think OU coaches are allowing the linemen and linebackers to be more active, which is translating to a better overall defensive performance. Linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon are the two leading tacklers so far, and that’s a big, big change from last season, when linebackers became almost irrelevant in the OU defense.

JK: Do you see Trevone Boykin becoming more comfortable as the quarterback as his career progresses? Was he very disappointed when Pachall won the starting job at the beginning of the year, or did he see it coming?

SS: TCU sure hopes he gets more comfortable. He looked smooth and poised when he took over for Pachall against LSU but looked lost two weeks later at Texas Tech. He’s struggling to find that relaxed middle ground between taking advantage of his running ability and using his arm when it's most crucial. I think the coaching staff was up front with both QBs and he knew if he wasn't under center, he’d be used other places. And he was until Pachall was injured.

SS: TCU coach Gary Patterson talked highly of all the Sooners’ running backs. Who should the Frogs be most worried about, Brennan Clay or Damian Williams?

JK: Both of those guys are capable of breaking off a big run or picking up tough yards. I’m not sure one is necessarily better than the other. Last season, Williams was the better running back, but this season, Clay has established himself as the top option. The Sooners are in good shape with both seniors, plus fellow senior Roy Finch and even true freshman Keith Ford, who has been impressive in his limited action so far.

JK: This was a team expected to compete for a Big 12 title, but now the Frogs have seemingly fallen out of contention. Does this team still believe it can win a conference title?

SS: That’s the mood among fans, but the players and coaches have turned a corner emotionally after losing at Texas Tech. Everyone — fans, local media and the team — feels like that was a game they blew. It put them in a bind to stay in league contention and will require them to pull an upset at Oklahoma or Oklahoma State —two tough places to win.

SS: Blake Bell has played very well since re-earning the starting job. Why do you think he lost the spot in August? Was he really outplayed by Trevor Knight or were other factors involved?

JK: I think the quarterback battle went the way it did for a couple reasons: OU coaches were really excited by Knight’s play-making ability and athleticism, and I think they really wanted to make the read option offense work. They deny that, of course, but, like I said earlier, there isn’t any question that the offense looks very different with Bell. I also think there’s the possibility that — as cliché as it sounds — Bell is simply a “gamer.” The guy shows up on Saturdays, and maybe is just better under the bright lights than he is in practice.

JK: TCU seems to have recruited really well, especially since joining the Big 12. Has there been a noticeable uptick in recruiting since the conference switch in your opinion?

SS: Recruiting has improved because they're able to attract many top recruits to at least come check out the campus and facilities. In the past, they were able to do that only rarely.

SS: For TCU fans making the trip, what are some good local restaurants to hit before or after the game Saturday night in Norman?

JK: I’d check out O’Connell’s on Campus Corner for burgers and fries; Kendall’s in Noble — my hometown, which is just south of Norman — for the best chicken fried steak you’ll ever have; or Tarahumara’s, which serves my favorite Mexican food in town.

JK: If TCU is going to have a chance to win Saturday, what will be the most important thing it has to do?

SS: They have to avoid another slow start. Not only will a good start help with TCU’s confidence problems on offense, but it will give the Frogs' defense a chance to assert itself more. The TCU defense is good enough to keep the Frogs in the game, but the offense at some point has to answer the bell.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

TCU at No. 11 Oklahoma

6 p.m. Saturday, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

Records: TCU 2-2, 0-1 in the Big 12; OU 4-0, 1-0

TV: KDFW/Ch. 4; Radio: WBAP/820 AM, 96.7 FM; KTCU/88.7 FM

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Thursday, September 18Full Scoreboard
Texas «7Final | Box
Toronto0Bottom 1st | Box
NY Yankees0@theBallpark | TV: SNET-1, YES
Boston0Bottom 1st | Box
Pittsburgh0@theBallpark | TV: NESN, ROOT-PIT
Washington0Bottom 1st | Box
Miami0@theBallpark | TV: MASN, FSN-FL
Los Angeles 9/18 8:05 PM ET
Chicago Cubs TV: SNet LA, CSN-CHI, MLB N
Cleveland 9/18 8:10 PM ET
Houston TV: STO, CSN-HOU
Milwaukee 9/18 8:15 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-WI, FSN-MW, MLB Net
Arizona 9/18 8:40 PM ET
Colorado TV: FSN-AZ, ROOT-RM
Philadelphia 9/18 9:10 PM ET
Seattle 9/18 10:05 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, September 18Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 3Full Scoreboard
Tampa Bay 8:25 PM ET
Atlanta TV: CBS, NFL Network
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Dallas 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Denver 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET
Carolina TV: NBC
Chicago 8:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, September 18Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard