By Melissa Triebwasser
Frogs Today staff writer
It’s Oklahoma week, and for the second straight season, TCU is facing a somewhat vulnerable Sooners squad.
Coming off a tough loss to Kansas State, and with the Red River Rivalry looming, the Horned Frogs are catching the Sooners at what could be the best possible time. Will Oklahoma fall into a trap game or will first-year coach Brent Venables have his Sooners ready?
On the other side, coach Sonny Dykes is hoping to break an eight-game losing streak to Oklahoma and lead TCU to its first win over the Sooners since 2014.
To find out where the advantage lie on each side, we spoke with Kegan Reneau of RPM Data and Franchise OK to get the inside scoop.
Check out some of his answers below and be sure to watch the full interview as well.
On whether TCU might be catching Oklahoma looking ahead: I think the key thing if you do want to look for like optimism of any kind, it’s that Joe Gillespie has some familiarity with both Jeff Lebby and Dillon Gabriel from his days at Tulsa. And he’s got two wins against Dillon Gabriel so far. So there is some familiarity. Jeff Lebby has evolved a little bit that I think what he showed on Saturday against Kansas State was a little bit unexpected. I expected Oklahoma to struggle on early downs, get into bad third-down situations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way the offense was to be able to move the football, generate explosives. And I think at this point, heading into this game, the same defense for another week. Kansas State’s a little more physical, probably a little bit better in the secondary as well. I think it’s going to turn it to shootout. I think that’s the inevitability.
On how he expects the Oklahoma defense to perform against a TCU offensive line that has been vulnerable so far this season: It’s still amazing to me how TCU hasn’t lucked into a single good offensive line over the last seven years. I think whenever you go back over the last three, four years my preseason comments on TCU have been “talk to me when they get a good offensive line, talk to me when they have an offensive line that can keep the quarterback free.” I don’t think that’s going to happen again this week in the Oklahoma game, but at the same time, too, there’s obvious opportunity throwing the ball in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Adrian Martinez should have thrown for 300-plus yards, but he didn’t because he’s not a competent throwing quarterback. It’s not his game, but, obviously, Max Duggan had some moments against SMU that I know gave all the TCU fan base good feelings inside. But hopefully TCU could protect him a little bit more this week.
On Dillon Gabriel’s performance so far this season: It’s kind of going exactly as I thought in preseason, because of the uptick in plays per game. I think he would tell you, though, they should have put up 700-plus yards of offense on Kansas State. That’s how good Jeff Lebby was Saturday against the defense that has given him some problems. He’s just got to be better. He’s just missing stuff over the middle of the field. He’s missing throws high. I think he’d be the first one to tell you that. But the problem is, that this is Year 4 that we have tape of him and the problems have existed for four years now. And so, at some point, you hit that fork in the road where there’s going to be a game over these next three weeks that Oklahoma’s going to need Dillon Gabriel to go win it f0r them. So I’m interested to see if that can happen. He had an opportunity to do that against Kansas State and failed to do it. But at the same time, he was still good. You know, it’s one of those things where my complete scope on quarterback play, it’s out of whack. I think everybody at Oklahoma now starts to really understand, yeah, that Caleb Williams kid was pretty good.
On how he expects Saturday’s game to play out: I said early in the week a 45-34 game made a lot of sense. Oklahoma is just a little too more talented than TCU is. I think if they would have beat Kansas State last week, I probably would have had the spot here for them to lose this game going into the Texas one. But at this point, I’ve seen enough of TCU to think Oklahoma’s got overwhelming advantage in the trenches. It’s been the same conversation for four years, and until that until that changes I think it’s going to be the same story. Oklahoma jumps out to an early lead ,TCU battles back a little bit, and then, ultimately, Oklahoma just is too much in the end.
Be sure to check out the full interview below:
Melissa Triebwasser, email@example.com