The Sooners will travel to Fort Worth on Saturday to take on the TCU Horned Frogs in the last regular season game of the year. Coming back from two emotional wins might be tough, but this team realizes the task at hand this week. Other than a missed field goal by Michael Hunnicutt early in the game, the special teams play was excellent was again last week. Its imperative the Sooners continue to play well in the special teams category.
Jalen Saunders gives the Sooners another dangerous threat in the return game,
Jaden Oberkrom has connected on 18-25 field goals this year, including an 8-11 mark on kicks of 40 yards or more. Oberkrom has a long of 50 on the year, and has proven that he has one of the strongest legs in the conference. His 72.0 percentage ranks fourth in the conference. Oberkrom is also a perfect 39-39 on extra point attempts.
For the second week in a row, Michael Hunnicutt missed a field goal, but bounced back and was perfect for the rest of the game. It showed a lot of maturity for the sophomore to shake off the early miss and connect on his next three attempts, but every scoring opportunity this week will be valuable and the Sooners need him to come through on every attempt. Hunnicutt is now 14-17 on the year.
Ethan Perry is currently ranked third in the conference with an average of 44.5 yards per punt. Out of Ethan’s 48 attempts this year, 14 have been downed inside the 20 yard line, eight have been touchbacks, and 14 have traveled 50 yards or more. Ethan has a long of 64 on the year.
Tress Way’s 42.6 yard average ranks fifth in the conference, and has continued to be solid all year long. His long of 71 and his 17 punts inside the 20 yard line both rank second in the conference. This game looks like it will be a tight one and Way’s ability to change the field position game in favor of the Sooners will be a critical key.
Wide Receiver Skye Dawson is the biggest threat in the kicking game for the Horned Frogs, and is averaging 22.5 yards a return with a long of 52 on the year. Dawson has been the featured kick returner all year, and is dangerous in the open field. The kickoff coverage for the Sooners has been solid all year, and they will need to continue that on Saturday.
The Sooners feature one of the better duos returning kicks in the conference with Roy Finch and Brennan Clay. Finch would rank first in the conference and fifth in the nation with a 32.4 yard average, but doesn’t have enough returns to qualify. Clay however, does have enough returns to qualify, and is ranked 20th in the country with a 27.7 yard return average. Both Finch and Clay have shown throughout the year how effective they can be, and both have shown they can come up with a big return in critical situations.
The ‘Frogs have split their punt return duties between Skye Dawson and Deante’ Gray, and rank No. 7 in the country in punt returns with a 14.9 yards a return. Dawson has the most attempts with 13, and is averaging 11.5 yards a return with a long of 64. Gray has only seven attempts, but is averaging 22.4 yards a return and one touchdown. Whoever handles the duties on Saturday will be a handful for the Sooners.
The Sooners now have a two-headed monster at punt returner. Justin Brown has impressed us all year, but Jalen Saunders burst onto the scene last week with a huge momentum changing punt return for a touchdown. Bob Stoops has revealed that both will see opportunities throughout the game, which gives the Sooners an advantage over just about anyone else at the position.
This game won’t be easy, and the Sooners better be ready to play on Saturday against a tough Horned Frogs squad. If the focus and intensity is there, the Sooners will win. But if there’s a hangover from the last two weeks and they get behind early, their BCS bowl hopes could very easily vanish.
The Sooners will win 31-27, but it won’t be easy.