- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 17, 2009

Colt McCoy can’t win the Red River Rivalry, or the Heisman Trophy, on his backside.

That’s Oklahoma’s rallying cry as the 20th-ranked Sooners enter Saturday’s annual showdown against No. 3 Texas at the Cotton Bowl.

“Can we get to McCoy?” cornerback Dominique Franks said this week. “I don’t think it should be too hard with the defensive line we have.”

By the time the pads stop popping in Dallas, there’s reason to believe a 6-foot-4, 297-pound defensive tackle wearing No. 93 for the Sooners will have emerged as the Big 12’s real McCoy. Oklahoma’s daunting defensive line, anchored by All-American Gerald McCoy, could enjoy a game-defining advantage against a one-dimensional Texas offense.

Through five games, the Longhorns (5-0, 2-0) have struggled to run the football. Last week against Colorado and the nation’s 92nd-worst rushing defense, Texas mustered just 46 rushing yards.

“We need to run the ball better,” coach Mack Brown said. “It doesn’t matter if we go over all the reasons; we’ve got to keep getting them fixed. Just blame me and move on with it.”

One of the primary reasons is personnel. Backup tailback Vondrell McGee left the Colorado game with an injured shoulder. Two weeks earlier, first-string tailback Tre Newton left the Longhorns’ victory over UTEP with a concussion.

Both are doubtful for Saturday, meaning a Texas squad that sputtered on the ground against five overmatched foes likely will start third-string scatback Fozzy Whittaker (5-10, 195) against an Oklahoma defense that ranks third nationally in rushing (53.6 yards) and scoring (8.4 points).

Translation: Texas likely will lean heavily on its Heisman hopeful quarterback and passing attack. That likelihood has Oklahoma’s McCoy and arguably the nation’s best front four salivating at the thought of putting a few sternum tattoos on the Texas quarterback.

“I hope this game comes down to our defense making a key stop,” said the Oklahoma junior, who is ranked just behind Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh on many NFL draft boards. “Our defense, in my eyes, has a lot to prove.”

McCoy might be the unit’s only critic. Oklahoma’s all-upperclassman defensive line boasts Nintendo-like numbers: 96 starts, 88 tackles for loss and 50.5 sacks. Courtesy of McCoy constantly drawing double teams, junior defensive end Jeremy Beal leads the Big 12 with 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. On the opposite side of the line, senior defensive end Auston English boasts 24 career tackles for loss and 15 sacks. Occupying the other trench slot beside McCoy, junior defensive tackle Adrian Taylor is the mutt of the group with nine career tackles for loss and seven sacks.

“They’ve got an awful lot of talent up there,” Brown said. “Gerald is as good as anybody we’ve seen since we’ve been here. He’s a guy that just takes games over. And it’s harder in pass protection to double-team him because when they start bringing extra guys, he mans up.”

Like most of his teammates on the Sooners (3-2, 1-0), McCoy, who has 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks so far, has been disappointed with this season. He blames the defense - not the absence of reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford (who returned last week against Baylor) - for Oklahoma’s losses to BYU and Miami.

“We failed to make critical stops that could have turned both of those losses into wins,” McCoy said. “We’ve only been decent as a defense, and our goal was to be great.”

McCoy and Co. are aiming for a signature statement against the Longhorns.

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