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Oklahoma Defensive Player to Watch: DE Charles Tapper

Will Tapper and his defense underestimate the Frogs?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

As I'm writing this, my husband is watching the original Mighty Ducks movie on TV.  Fitting, huh?  We're one day away from TCU football.  One day away from watching our favorite players take the field and fight for their right to stay in the Top 25 amongst a Committee that makes them work harder than other teams.  They have higher expectations for us; loftier goals we must achieve to be considered "worthy" of their attention.  It's been two days since we learned Doctson was done for the season, and we're one day away from learning Boykin's fate.  But whether Boykin takes the field with fancier footwork than Kevin Bacon and John Travolta combined, or Sawyer takes the field after a week of soaking in everything he can from Boykin, one thing is for sure: Oklahoma has spent a week preparing for either one.  Their defense is salivating, ready to prove that they can devour the Frogs the way they dominated the Bears in Waco.  One of those drooling Sooners is DE Charles Tapper.

A native of Baltimore, MD, Tapper came out of high school as a four-star recruit, according to 247sports.com and a 3-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Rivals.com, and Scout.com.  He was ranked as high as the #4 player in Maryland  and the #10 defensive end (247sports.com).  He had 100 tackles and 5 sacks in his senior year and even had 10 receptions for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns while playing at tight end.  He entered Oklahoma in 2012 and played 5 games as a true freshman.  He started all 13 games in 2013 and 2014, and his stats have steadily risen every year.  Thus far this season, he's surpassed his 37 tackles from 2014 in just 10 games (38 so far).  He's also doubled the number of sacks from 3 to 6, which have all occurred in the last 3 games.  It appears he's hit his stride, and the Frogs would do well to keep a close eye on him.

The Sooners have said over and over again that their defense is working well as a whole unit this season, which is part of their success.  In looking at Tapper's stats, they're a bit of a roller coaster.  His fewest tackles came against Akron, Tennessee, and Kansas State.  Kansas State and Akron were basically blowouts (55-0 and 41-3, respectively), so the low number of tackles could be blamed on the fact that the defense just wasn't on the field.  However, in the game against Tennessee, the Vols were up 17-0 in the first 18 minutes of the game.  It wasn't until Mayfield and his offense came back in the fourth quarter that the game got close.  Then DB Zach Sanchez intercepted Tennessee in their second OT possession, ending the game and allowing Sooner fans to breath a sigh of relief.  Lesson learned here for the Frogs: take advantage of a defense who gets their groove in the second half.  Score early and hope that Mayfield can't catch up later.

Of course, we can't ignore the looming loss that will surely plague Oklahoma in the Committee room.  Their loss to Texas is still a fresh wound, and defense played a big role.  There really wasn't any explanation from the Sooners.  The Longhorns were annihilated the week before by TCU, and then went down the street and won the Red River Showdown 24-17.  While the Longhorns defense played a huge role in their victory, sacking Mayfield 6 times, the Sooner defense surely played a role in the loss.  Center Ty Darlington claimed that they didn't underestimate the Horns, but said "they were a much more talented and capable team than the record."  As we know, records aren't everything.  Players and teams have bad days, so it kind of sounds like the Sooners did in fact underestimate Texas.  Here's a look back at Texas up until that point in the season:

Opponent: Score Result
Notre Dame 38-3 Loss
Rice 42-28 Win
Cal 45-44 Loss
Oklahoma State 30-27 Loss
TCU 50-7 Loss

Now, here's a look at TCU's record thus far:

Opponent: Score Result
Minnesota 23-17
Win
Stephen F. Austin
70-7
Win
SMU
56-37
Win
Texas Tech 55-52
Win
Texas 50-7 Win
Kansas State
52-45 Win
Iowa State
45-21 Win
West Virginia
40-10 Win
Oklahoma State
49-29 Loss
Kansas
23-17 Win

My point here is:

1.      Texas had 1 win and 2 very close losses when they faced Oklahoma.  So, yes, I believe that the Sooners gravely underestimated the talent and spirit of this Longhorn team.

It can be argued that TCU had the "Doctson Factor" through West Virginia.  Yes, that surely played a part in our victories, but let me remind everyone, Sooners included: TCU was winning games long before Josh Doctson, and it will do so long after.  I'm not bashing Doctson—most of you know he's my favorite player—but both Sooners and Frogs need to remember that this team is more than one player.  Additionally, there is a "Doctson Factor 2.0" that now exists: this team will play for Doctson.  #WinForDoc is already floating around Twitter, so please, Sooners, underestimate us and see what happens.

As a senior playing in front of the home crowd, Charles Tapper will be looking to take advantage of any opportunity to limit the Frog offense tomorrow.  The Frogs know what to do: they have to protect our QB (whoever it may be), get rid of the ball quick, catch passes, and protect the runner.  They can do this. Do you remember how that Mighty Ducks movie ends?  The underestimated Ducks face their rivals the Hawks in the title game.  Charlie, the Ducks' young leader, makes a penalty shot to win by one point with no time left.  Right before he takes the shot, Coach Gordon Bombay (i.e. Emilio Estevez) tells him that he might make the shot and he might not.  But the important thing is they're in the game when no one thought they would be.  So Frogs, let's remember how far this team has come.  They've battled through more than 23 injuries now and are still 9-1.  It wasn't always that way, folks.  Just ask those of us who attended TCU about 10 years ago (ahem...or maybe longer).  We can beat these Sooners in their house (we've done it before), and if we don't, we still have plenty to be proud of.  Show the Frogs your support and let's show Tapper and his defense that the Frogs are a true force to be reckoned with.  We should not be underestimated.