3 Questions Heading Into The Opener

UH offensive line UH offensive line | photo by Mario Puente[/caption]

Note: Trey Formas and Chris McGehee host the Talkin’ Bout Them Cougars! Previewin’ Podcast. They will look ahead each week to break down the upcoming game.

Each week, prior to their podcast, they’ll go back and forth on three questions.
 

Who is player to watch in this game?

Trey Formas: I’m looking to see what transfer running back Kyle Porter does against Oklahoma. In 2017, while at Texas, Porter scored on a 16-yard catch vs. the Sooners. In that game, he had three rushes for seven yards and two catches out of the backfield. That receiving ability from the RB spot could be key to attacking the Sooners’ defense.

Chris McGehee: Keep an eye on OU defensive end Ronnie Perkins. Last year, as a freshman the 6’ 3” 250 lb. edge rusher led the Sooners in sacks. What caught my eye on film was Perkins’ performance against WVU and Holgorsen.

With 10:13 to go in that game, and West Virginia trailing by three, the Mountaineers had a 1st-and-10 at the Sooner 42. Once the ball was snapped, Perkins beat his man off the edge and got to quarterback Will Grier, forcing a fumble. OU scooped it and Perkins then sealed the touchdown return with the key block, in what proved to be the deciding score.

With a year of experience under his belt, Perkins could prove to be an x-factor against Houston. And I promise Holgorsen hasn’t forgotten that play.
 

Which UH position group do you most want to evaluate?

McGehee: There’s several to choose from but I think the answer has to be the secondary. After seeing this unit get torched repeatedly last season, I’m interested to see how Doug Belk, Zac Etheridge, and Blake Gideon transform the defensive backfield.

UH has switched to a 4-2-5 under Joe Cauthen which should allow for more penetration up-front. If the DL can apply pressure, opposing quarterbacks will be forced to get rid of the ball quicker, shortening the time DBs must cover downfield.

That needs to start on Sunday night.

Formas: It’s got to be the offensive line. Four-year starting center Will Noble is gone and now Braylon Jones (30 starts) moves from right guard to the center position. Both tackles (LT Josh Jones and RT Jarrid Williams) are back; those guys have combined for 49 starts for the Cougars.

What will be interesting is seeing how Houston integrates two new guards up front against an athletic Oklahoma defensive line. While the bookends of the line should be solid, there’s a chance that the interior could prove to be vulnerable to start the season.
 

State your case: name the key to a UH victory.

Formas: Turnovers. In Lincoln Riley’s four seasons as OC and head coach, the Sooners have not lost when winning the turnover battle. In six of their eight losses, OU has had a negative turnover differential (Georgia 2017 and Alabama in 2018 are the exceptions). To have a shot, the Cougars will need to protect the ball on offense and find a way to make the Sooners cough it up a few times.

McGehee: I feel like our answers go hand-in-hand here. The biggest key for the Cougars is to rattle Jalen Hurts early and capitalize on any mistakes the Sooners make.

Hurts isn’t nearly as dynamic as the two previous OU quarterbacks, but he’s a national championship-winning quarterback. He’s poised in the pocket and has committed very few turnovers in his career. But that was with a great defense – he’ll be asked to take more chances this season. Guys like Aymiel Fleming and Isaiah Chambers need to get to him and let him know that he’s in a much different situation now.

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