Built to Perform: Oklahoma's secondary

The play of Oklahoma’s secondary could be critical this week. The Sooners face Texas and a power-running Longhorns offense which will be looking to dominate when the two teams meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Stopping the run will be a high priority for the Sooners against a UT offense averaging 209 rushing yards per game. Through five games, Joe Bergeron [300], Malcolm Brown [245] and Johnathan Gray [244] have formed a balanced trip. Brown is nursing a ankle injury and could miss the Red River Rivalry after sitting out last week against West Virginia.

Nonetheless, stopping the Longhorns rushing attack is a difficult task. The Sooners are likely to put more defenders in the box and force UT to throw to beat them.

Fortunately for the Sooners, their secondary appears built to perform.

Cornerbacks Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin have been outstanding, safeties Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson are ranked 1-2 in tackles and nickelbacks Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson have held their own thrown into action in passing situations. Against Texas Tech, OU allowed 271 yards passing to a squad that entered the game ranked No. 7 nationally with 358.8 passing yards per contest.

“I thought the guys were excellent the last several games,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “They’ve really covered well (against) a team (Texas Tech) you don’t hold down much.”

For the Sooners, those six defenders could be a key to winning on Saturday. If the Sooners can consistently win their one-on-one battles against UT’s receivers, OU can feel confident loading the box and stopping the run, knowing they’ll be covered on the backend and won’t give up several game-changing catches.

“We all expect each other to be accountable,” Harris said. “We’re accountable to each other, we’ve play together all the time. We just want to get better every game, knowing those guys are out there it just helps you play at little more loose because you know the plays that sometimes happen, aren’t going to happen.”

They can’t happen on Saturday if the Sooners expect to prevail. The Longhorns have 20 pass plays of 20-plus yards this season with Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquis Goodwin and Daje Johnson each multiple making catches of over 20 yards this season.

While the battle in the trenches is always critical, the battle on the outside could be just as important on Saturday. OU has passed the test through four games, we’ll see if they continue to earn a passing grade against the Longhorns.