When it comes to slowing down Oklahoma’s potent offense, TCU has plenty ‘work to do’

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray (1) prepares for the snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Texas Longhorns, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Dallas, Texas.
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray (1) prepares for the snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Texas Longhorns, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Dallas, Texas. AP

Gary Patterson served as TCU’s only defensive voice going into the Oklahoma game. No defensive players were made available for comment during the media availability this week.

So Patterson alone talked about the difficulties facing his Frogs defense. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 48 points a game, and boasts playmakers across the field.

Quarterback Kyler Murray is a Heisman hopeful who is a threat with his arm and legs; receiver Marquise Brown is one of the most dynamic players in the country; and the running game is doing OK with Trey Sermon taking over the primary role since Rodney Anderson went down.

OU coach Lincoln Riley is regarded as one of the bright offensive minds in the game, and Patterson saw first-hand why that is a season ago. The Sooners knocked the Frogs off twice, winning 38-20 in the regular season and 41-17 in the Big 12 title game.

“With two good defenses last year, the best we could do is hold them to 38,” Patterson said. “So we’ve got work to do.”

Patterson likes the challenge, though. It’s a chess match between an offensive guru in Riley and a defensive guru in Patterson.

“They ran nine variations of how you run the counter,” Patterson said. “Nine times – they blocked counter or power differently.”

Patterson will have his team ready.

TCU’s defense has risen to the occasion so far. The Frogs have held every opponent below their season average in points and yards.

The Frogs have allowed just one 100-yard receiver, Texas’ Collin Johnson, and two 100-yard rushers, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins and Iowa State’s David Montgomery.

That won’t be easy to do against OU.

Murray leads the Big 12 in total offense, averaging 356.8 yards per game (295.5 passing, 61.3 rushing). He also ranks first in pass efficiency (228.3).

Patterson wondered if the Sooners’ offense has really slowed down transitioning from last year’s Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield, to Murray.

“[Murray] can take off and run,” Patterson said. “He’s faster than what Baker was. Obviously, he hasn’t been running the offense as long so there’s some intangibles that you don’t see as much with what they do.

“As a general rule, [Murray] can just take off on you and most people on the field can’t catch him. That’s a problem area for your team and one of those things that we have to look at as we go into preparation. How do you control the quarterback cause they’ve got a lot of other weapons.

“You notice I never said ‘stop,’ I always say, ‘try to control.’ How do you slow down the engine?”

The easiest way, of course, is to keep Murray and the Sooners offense off the field like Army did earlier this season. Oklahoma won in overtime, but Army dominated the time of possession 44:41 to 15:19.

Murray had just 15 pass attempts on the day without a single completion to Brown.

That’s hard to do, especially with how much OU wants to get the ball into Brown’s hands.

Brown is OU’s leading receiver with 33 catches for 675 yards and seven TDs. Even with the no catch day against Army, Brown is still averaging 112.5 receiving yards a game. He’s topped the 100-yard mark in four games.

Brown scored on a 52-yard TD against TCU in the Big 12 title game last season, but was limited to two catches for 56 yards in the regular season contest.

As stated, though, there’s more weapons than just Brown. CeeDee Lamb has caught six TDs, and Lee Morris has four. And, of course, Murray is always a threat to take off.

Having a “spy” on Murray is sometimes easier said than done against a team with so many weapons.

“What goes into it is how you have to play your leverages,” Patterson said. “You have to shift things around, keeping an eye on the quarterback, some personnel groups make it hard to do that. That’s why it’s always interesting.

“I love playing in this ballgame.”

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