Texas football RB Bijan Robinson could have a field day vs. OU

Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

This could be a huge weekend for head coach Steve Sarkisian and Texas football as this team readies up to face new head coach Brent Venables and the Oklahoma Sooners in the annual Red River Rivalry game in just a few days. Texas heads into Red River this season as an increasingly heavy favorite over Oklahoma after the Sooners had a really difficult weekend in Fort Worth losing to the TCU Horned Frogs.

Oklahoma was blown out by the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth on Oct. 1 by the final score of 55-24. The Sooners also came out of that one extremely banged up. And we have yet to really know what the diagnosis will be for the multiple injured Oklahoma players ahead of Red River this coming weekend.

In theory, with how bad Oklahoma looked on both sides of the ball against TCU last weekend, this should be a huge day for the Texas offense on Oct. 8. Oklahoma struggled to do anything to limit TCU, and it looked like the Frogs could’ve put up north of 60 or 70 points if they put their foot on the gas.

In the last two games (in losses to TCU and the Kansas State Wildcats), Oklahoma allowed 1,177 yards, 96 points, and 7.4 yards per play. Most of the yards and points allowed for the Sooners came in the loss to TCU last weekend.

According to the Sports-Reference play index, there are six times since the turn of the century when Oklahoma has allowed at least 500 total yards and six yards per play in a conference loss. This season is the first time where multiple games that fit into that criteria came in the same campaign, let alone in back-to-back weeks.

The fact of the matter is that the Oklahoma defense is getting shredded lately. And the most vulnerable part of this defense often looks like the run defense. Oklahoma was gashed by the rushing attacks for TCU and Kansas State in the last two weeks.

Kansas State and TCU combined for more than 630 rushing yards and a whopping nine rushing scores since Sep. 24.

All of the yards and points that Oklahoma gave up on the ground in the last two weeks don’t bode well for them against a running back such as the superstar Texas junior Bijan Robinson.

With the way that Bijan is playing of late combined with what we saw out of the Oklahoma run defense in the last two games, this weekend could shape up to be a long one for that Sooner defensive front.

One of the main issues that Oklahoma dealt with in the last two weeks was the frequency of missed tackles. On 90 rushing plays in the last two games, Oklahoma had 20 missed tackles (per PFF), which is a lot especially if you consider that more than half of them came from the secondary.

For good measure, Texas had 11 missed tackles on run plays in the last two games. And it’s not like Texas faced that many fewer run plays during that timeframe. Texas faced 16 fewer run plays in the last two weeks. That essentially averages out to .22 missed tackles per run play for Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Texas has around .15 missed tackles per run play.

Those missed tackles add up over time and can be very costly against a team with as much skill talent as TCU or Texas.

There are issues that Texas fans would be familiar with that Oklahoma is facing along the defensive front defending the run so far this season. We’ve seen some instances of Oklahoma defensive ends, edge rushers, and linebackers, overrunning in pursuit of the ball carrier.

It seems like the Oklahoma edge players are having the most trouble finding the football by running upfield instead of breaking down and getting a wrap on the ball carrier.

But we’ve also seen the Oklahoma defensive backs take poor approach after poor approach when attempting to tackle in the open field this season.

Texas football star RB Bijan Robinson should have a huge game vs. OU


We also saw last weekend that TCU’s backs were able to run through some poor arm tackles from the linebackers and defensive backs.

If Oklahoma’s linebackers and defensive backs are going to show this same approach and effort trying to tackle Bijan on run plays this weekend, Texas is going to feast on the ground. We’ve seen in the past what Bijan can do in the open field not just against Oklahoma, but against any defense that doesn’t pile him up in the box by committing a lot of extra manpower to stop the run.

It’s worth mentioning that Bijan not only leads the Big 12 among running backs in missed tackles forced so far this season, but he also leads the FBS at the position with 40. He’s also got 47 missed tackles forced this season when you take into account production in the receiving game.

Oklahoma has faced Bijan in years past. But, maybe outside of Kansas State star Deuce Vaughn, Oklahoma’s defense hasn’t faced a running back the caliber of Bijan.

And Bijan is a different back than Vaughn. The 6-foot and 215-pound Bijan is able to gash you more up the middle then the 5-foot-6 and 170-pound Vaughn.

Moreover, what can Texas actually do to maximize the proficiency of Bijan against a vulnerable Oklahoma run defense?

Since TCU and Kansas State exposed Kansas State in a multitude of different ways in the run game, there are going to be a lot of options for Sark and the Longhorns to attack the Sooners. First and foremost, I would say it’s best for Texas to stick to the bread and butter with the outside zone run game to set the tone on the ground.

With Texas’ ability to hold the edge with the senior offensive tackle Christian Jones and freshman Kelvin Banks, Bijan should be able to get outside and pick up yards in large chunks against the Sooners.

Once Texas is able to set the tone on the ground by running the outside zone and getting some plays up the middle, Sark should focus on opening up the field, especially if redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers is the starting quarterback.

Oklahoma struggled to stop the screen game on a consistent basis for the Frogs last weekend. TCU went for more than 70 yards on 13 completions on screen plays against the Sooners.

Texas can utilize star sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy and redshirt junior Jordan Whittington to open up the field and gash the Sooners in the screen game. That would also help Ewers get settled in if he is the starting quarterback this weekend.

If Texas can effectively open up the field in the screen game, then that completely opens up the playbook for Sark. He then has an array of different play calls he can turn to get Bijan in space to do damage to this Oklahoma defense.

Oklahoma really struggles when teams open them up and then take advantage of the split zones. From what we’ve talked about already if Sark can start to get Bijan involved in the screen game and get him motioning out on some wheel routes, that could really expose a questionable Oklahoma secondary and some linebackers that were spotty in pass coverage so far this season.

Spreading out the defense could also get Bijan and senior running back Roschon Johnson finding some extra room to run up the middle. If Texas is showing the ability to spread out the field by getting the ball to the likes of Worthy, Whittington, and sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, then Oklahoma won’t be able to commit many extra assets to load up the box and stop the run with Bijan.

All these factors add up to Bijan having the potential to put up a really solid stat line against Oklahoma on Oct. 8.

But the one variable for Texas in this conversation compared to some of the other teams that Oklahoma struggled against in the Big 12 so far this season is that they don’t have a dual-threat quarterback. Texas won’t be drawing up run plays if Ewers is the starter. And even if Ewers isn’t the starting quarterback this weekend, we probably won’t see Sark drawing up many (if any) designed runs for junior Hudson Card.

While Card is a capable runner, he doesn’t get many designed run plays, especially with the high-ankle sprain he suffered earlier this season.

Oklahoma not having to worry about the threat of a dual-threat quarterback could make it a little bit easier for them to devote extra practice time and resources in-game to limiting Bijan. Just how much of a difference that makes is something that I am unsure of. Texas still has a multitude of stud skill players to open up this Oklahoma defense.

Last season, Bijan went for 137 rushing yards, one score, 10 missed tackles forced, and 136 yards after initial contact against the Sooners. But that came against an Oklahoma defense last season that wasn’t nearly as banged up as this group could be for Venables and the Sooners this weekend.

With some of the weaknesses that were exposed all over this Oklahoma defense, from the poor tackling approaches and ineffective pushes at the line of scrimmage, to the plethora of missed tackles and missed assignments in the secondary, Bijan could have a massive day in Red River. If he gets 20-25 attempts at least this weekend, it wouldn’t shock me to see Bijan finish in the ballpark of 150-200 rushing yards and a couple of scores.

Next. 4 bold predictions for Texas vs. OU. dark

Texas comes into this game sporting a record of 3-2 (1-1 Big 12) following the convincing 38-20 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers at home on Oct. 1. Bijan and the Longhorns will kickoff against the Sooners at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. CT.