The TCU football team is about one hour away from kicking off its final game of the regular season against Oklahoma. The Sooners enter with a 6-2 record in the Big 12 Conference, while the Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) need one more victory to secure bowl eligibility for the 2023 season. To learn more about the Sooners, we spoke with editor Jack Shields of the SB Nation’s Crimson & Cream Machine to gain an inside perspective on Oklahoma’s season.
1. What’s the status of Dillon Gabriel? Should something happen to him, what should TCU fans expect from Jackson Arnold?
With Gabriel, it’s a situation where we likely won’t know until OU’s first possession. Venables has kept open the possibility, but that could be some gamesmanship. If it’s Arnold, he is incredibly talented, and he showed great poise at BYU when being thrust into action. If given a full week to prepare, he could really shine.
2A. Where does this Oklahoma team excel on offense? Where have they struggled?
Chunk plays in the passing game have been the key to success. When that element is taken away, Jeff Lebby has a tendency to get a bit too cute, and his judgement has cost OU in close games against Kansas and Oklahoma State. So if TCU is able to limit the downfield damage, this could be a dogfight.
2B. Where does this team excel on defense? Where have they struggled?
Up until last week, this team was impressive against the run. Throughout the year, they’ve given up some chunk plays on the ground, but they’ve been really solid from down to down. They have, however, struggled a bit with their pass rush.
3. TCU has played Oklahoma close a few times in the past. Do you envision the Horned Frogs hanging tough with the Sooners again on Friday?
I think we’re in for a dramatic game. TCU looked really good this past week, albeit against a bad Baylor team. If OU gets off to a fast start, they’ll be tough to beat, but if TCU hangs around in the first half, I think it comes down to the wire.
4. After a tough 2022 season, what are your thoughts on how this season has gone for Oklahoma? Do you believe there is more confidence in Brent Venables and his staff?
I think OU fans are generally very pleased with the direction of the program. Defensively, this is looking much more like an SEC program, which has given people hope for the future. Game management under this staff is still a question mark, but Venables has checked all of the other boxes up to this point.