Blake Bell

Senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley burst onto the scene with his 31-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oklahoma. Whaley's talent is obvious, but his teammates admire his leadership abilities on and off the field most.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

As senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley streaked towards the end zone after intercepting a Blake Bell pass in last week’s Red River Rivalry game, only one thought ran through his mind — score.

The 6’3, 295-pound Whaley, who originally committed to Texas as a running back four years ago, hadn’t found the end zone in his first three seasons with the Longhorns. Thirty-one yards after his first career interception, the senior finally registered his first score. 

“Once I caught it, I looked up and saw I had enough field to try and run it for a touchdown,” Whaley said. “When I saw the quarterback, I wasn’t going to be denied. I wasn’t going to let him stop me.”

While the interception return proved to be a significant play in the Longhorns’ upset victory over the Sooners, it hardly stands as Whaley’s only major contribution. The senior anchors the interior of the Texas defensive line as a prominent run stopper, racking up 19 tackles, three for a loss, along with one sack in six games this season.

While Whaley consistently produces in the trenches each week, junior defensive end Cedric Reed believes the defensive tackle’s biggest asset remains his ability to direct the Texas defensive front. 

“He’s the general of our defense,” Reed said. “He helps us get lined up, he takes it into our hands when we mess up and he just makes sure our practices are straightened up. He’s just a great leader.”

Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat furthered this, saying that in addition to leading communication on the field, Whaley maintains a vocal role in the Texas locker room. 

“He’s a big vocal guy,” Jeffcoat said. “He’s the guy that will normally speak up and say what we all feel and he understands what we feel and what needs to be relayed to the whole team. He’s the guy that will speak up and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Whaley molds his leadership role after the standout veterans who helped ease his transition to Texas as a freshman in 2009. In addition to rallying his teammates with his words, the senior believes leading by example in practice is a necessary part of guiding younger players.

“In order to be a leader you have to practice what you preach,” Whaley said. “If you’re going to preach about working hard you have to do it yourself. I go out everyday with an edge at practice. I’m going to get better every day. Some of the younger guys are watching me, so I’ve got to be a great example for them.”

Whaley experienced Texas’ most recent Big 12 championship in 2009 as a redshirt freshman. After wading through a trio of disappointing seasons over the past three years, the defensive tackle is focused on winning another Big 12 title. Only this time, he wants to be on the field.

“It would mean a lot,” Whaley said. “’09 is the last time Texas won a Big 12 championship. Being a senior and winning a Big 12 championship is a big accomplishment. It would mean a lot to me to turn it around after all those bad seasons we had the last few years.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Blake Bell, Junior QB

All things start behind center for the Oklahoma offense and the signal-caller is Blake Bell, who has led to the Sooners to a 5-0 start this season. His efficiency has been a big reason for that success. The junior has passed for 835 yards and six touchdowns with a 69.2 completion percentage. These numbers are not gaudy but Bell gets the job done every time out with his crisp passing and ability to hit receivers when he needs to. The Longhorns have continued to have a tough time defending the deep ball, which plays directly into Bell’s hands. Look for Bell to challenge the Texas secondary and get them on their heels to open up the running game.

 

Brennan Clay, Senior RB

Although Oklahoma features a few capable backs, Brennan Clay has been the leader as far as rushing the football for the Sooners. In five games this season, Clay has rushed the ball 68 times for 450 yards and three touchdowns. His 6.6 yards per carry average should be something the Texas defense pays attention to as Clay can break off big runs every single play. At 5-foot-11 and 201 pounds, Clay is a compact back who can move the chains in short-yardage situations and break tackles for big gains. If Texas can tackle and force turnovers like they did against Iowa State, it will make it that much easier to keep Clay in check.

 

Frank Shannon, Sophomore LB

A player that many people probably have not heard of is one that the Texas offense should look out for this week. Shannon is the leading tackler on the Sooners defense and will do his best to disrupt the Texas run game. Shannon has racked up 34 tackles this season and has an interception. Shannon has the speed to get quickly from sideline to sideline and Texas will need to keep a hat on him to get the running game going against a tough Oklahoma defense.

 

Sterling Shepard, Sophomore WR

Another smaller receiver that can give the Longhorns trouble when he gets into the second level is Shepard, who has caught 21 passes for a team-high 266 yards and three touchdowns this season. He has the ability to increase these numbers significantly against the Longhorns. Shepard’s stats aren’t spectacular but he will likely have the biggest impact for Oklahoma. Texas needs to be aware of his presence on the field.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Junior Blake Bell has become synonymous with the “Belldozer” package using his 6-foot-6, 252-pound frame to plow through linemen.

And last year’s Red River Rivalry just reinforced the fear into every Longhorns fan as he rumbled into the end zone four times, despite being Landry Jones’ back-up.

In his first two years, the perceived running quarterback recorded 25 rushing touchdowns compared to none throwing.

 “People have questioned his ability to throw,” Mack Brown said at Monday’s press conference.

But that doesn’t mean Texas can take Bell’s arm lightly.

The Detroit Tigers used a 2010 draft pick on the heralded quarterback - where he hadn’t played in two years – because of his strong arm.

“That’s definitely why they recruited him,” Dusty Trail, Bell’s former offensive coordinator at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, Kan. told ESPN. “The running was just a bonus in their eyes.”

But instead of taking the guaranteed money and possibly relieving games for the Tigers this postseason, Bell followed his passion of football.

“No,” Blake’s father, Mark Bell, told NewsOK. “His love and passion is football. He really liked basketball too, but his passion was football.”

He was the heir apparent to Landry Jones and ready to take over the reins of a major program. That is, until freshman Trevor Knight swiped the job from underneath his nose in training camp.

But the freshman’s poor completion percentage and three interceptions in the first two games gave Bell a chance.

“It’s a testament to his character that he didn’t get down, he didn’t get negative,” head coach Bob Stoops said after the game against Tulsa. “He kept working and he got his opportunity and he took all kind of advantage of it.”

The “Belldozer” threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns in the 51-20 victory, proving he could be effective with his arms, not just his legs.

Now people are starting to see why Rivals.com labeled him a pro-style quarterback, not a dual-threat.

“I’ve always said Blake could throw the football and finally everyone got to see that,” Stoops said.

And Texas knows this.

“He can throw,” defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. “His arm is good. He has a strong arm. He is an accurate thrower.”

So when Bell touches the ball Saturday morning in Dallas, they can’t focus on just one facet.

“Well, they always talk about him being a runner but he can throw the ball,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “And also he can run the ball. He’s big and he’s hard to bring down. That’s what makes him unique. He’s a dual threat kind of guy.”

 

Aaron Colvin leads defense

On Saturday, the Sooners’ top NFL prospect won’t have the ball in his hands.

And he will be making sure the Texas receivers don’t either.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, senior cornerback Aaron Colvin has always been watching the Red River Rivalry.

So when he made his first start in 2010 against Texas, he was thrilled. And it hasn’t worn off.

“My excitement level for OU-Texas is the same as it was when I was a freshman,” Colvin said.

Colvin has done more than just play in one of the game’s biggest rivalries, though.

He ended his freshman year as the starting cornerback. Then switched to safety for his sophomore campaign. And when he returned to corner last year, all he did was garner All-Big 12 honors.

As one of the conference’s top shutdown corners, Colvin anchors an Oklahoma secondary that boasts the 10th-best passing defense in the nation allowing just 168.4 yards per game.

He also isn’t afraid to mix with the big bodies in stopping the run game.

“Their secondary is very aggressive, but also very sound,” Mack Brown said.

This combination of run stoppage and pass defense helps give Oklahoma the No. 9 defense in the nation.

But despite the records of the two teams, Colvin realized that this game is still the biggest one.

“Texas is a huge game for us,” Colvin said. “We just have to be prepared for this, and I think we are.”

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is in good spirits after leading Oklahoma to victory, becoming the winningest quarterback in Oklahoma history.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

This time was supposed to be different. The team that lost to Oklahoma last season 55-17 was supposed to be long gone.

But it was not different. It was worse.

The Sooners dominated the game and they defeated the Longhorns for the third year in a row, 63-21, at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

The defense struggled with tackling and giving up big plays while the offense had only 289 total yards and did not find the end zone until there was less than five minutes left.

Texas’ defense gave up plays of 14, 11, 12 and 10 yards on the Sooners’ first possession.

These were not just Red River Shootout jitters. These deficiencies and mistakes made on defense continued throughout the game. Quarterback Blake Bell rushed eight yards for a touchdown to end the first drive.

Quandre Diggs returned the extra point for a two-point conversion, the only points the Longhorns would put on the board until the third quarter.

Damien Williams’ 95-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter was the longest in Red River Rivalry history. 

The Longhorns’ struggles with stopping the run continued. Jordan Hicks’ absence was apparent throughout the game and, once again, the inexperienced linebackers struggled. Texas gave up 343 rushing yards and 334 passing yards.

“It just came down to that we couldn’t stop the run,” said senior defensive end Alex Okafor. “If you can’t stop the run, things get ugly really quick. It’s been like that all season. We have to find a way to stop them.”

Landry Jones’ pass to Trey Millard gave the Sooners a 73-yard gain, putting them at the Texas 4-yard line. Bell scored his third touchdown of the game to make the score 27-2.
The Texas offense showed some life in the second quarter when David Ash threw a 31-yard pass to Mike Davis, the Longhorns’ first first down of the game. But Ash was picked off on the next play.

“This was the best defense we’ve played,” head coach Mack Brown said. “But they outplayed us by far today. I’m very disappointed offensively across the board.”

Running back Joe Bergeron was tackled in the Texas end zone later in the second quarter, adding two points to Oklahoma’s growing lead. Bell capped the first-half scoring with a one-yard touchdown run, giving the Sooners a 36-2 halftime lead.

Texas was outgained, 407-65, in the first half while giving up 206 rushing yards in the first two quarters and running for just two yards.

“It’s kind of shocking that we weren’t moving the ball,” said freshman running back Johnathan Gray. “That’s what we work hard on in practice.”

Cornerback Carrington Byndom’s 28-yard interception return for a touchdown started the scoring in the first half, trimming the Sooners’ lead to 36-8.

Ash had his third turnover of the game when he fumbled the ball in the third quarter. He only had three turnovers all season coming into the matchup.

With 1:25 left in the third quarter, Jones threw a 25-yard touchdown to Millard. later threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Brown in the fourth quarter before Brennan

Clay’s 1-yard rushing touchdown gave the Sooners a commanding 63-15 lead.

David Ash left the game with a left wrist injury in the fourth quarter while Case McCoy stepped in and threw two touchdown passes. The first was a 44-yard pass to Mike Davis and the other a 19-yard pass to John Harris in the final play of the game, making the final score 63-21.

As the game went on, what was once a sea of orange on Texas’ side of the stadium became scattered spots of disappointed fans watching their team lose, once again, to the Sooners.

“It’s just unacceptable for Texas to lose like that to Oklahoma,” Brown said.

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is in good spirits after leading Oklahoma to victory, becoming the winningest quarterback in Oklahoma history.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

This time, things were supposed to be different.  The team that lost to Oklahoma 55-17 last season was supposed to be long gone.

But, it wasn’t different.  It was worse.

The Sooners dominated the game and they defeated the Longhorns for the third year in a row, 63-21.

The defense struggled with tackling, rush defense and giving up big plays.  While the offense had only 289 total yards and only found the end zone with less than five minutes left to play.

The Sooners’ first drive was the beginning of a commanding performance.  The Texas defense gave up a 14-yard, an 11-yard, a 12-yard pass and a ten-yard run.

These weren’t just Red River Shootout jitters.  These deficiencies and mistakes on defense continued throughout the game.  At the end of the drive, quarterback Blake Bell rushed eight yards for a touchdown.

Texas’ Chris Whaley blocked the extra point and Quandre Diggs had a long return for the 2-point conversion.  These would be the only points the Longhorns would put on the board until the third quarter.

Oklahoma needed only two plays to expose the defense on its third drive of the matchup. Damien Williams ran the ball 95-yards for a touchdown, the longest run in the rivalry’s history.

Though its been emphasized in practice, the Longhorns’ struggles with stopping the run have continued. Jordan Hicks’ absence was apparent throughout the game and, once again, the inexperienced linebackers struggled.  The Longhorns gave up 343 rushing yards and 334 passing yards.

“It just came down to that we couldn't stop the run,” said senior defensive end Alex Okafor.  “If you cant stop the run things get ugly really quick.  It’s been like that all season.  We have to find a way to stop them.”

But, the Sooners’ pounding of the defense continued. Landry Jones’ pass to Trey Millard gave the Sooners a 73-yard gain, starting them at the Texas 4-yard line.  Bell had his third touchdown of the game to make the score 27-2.

The Texas offense finally showed some life in the second quarter when David Ash threw a 31-yard pass to Mike Davis, giving them their first first down of the game.  The following play Ash threw an interception on a pass intended for Marquise Goodwin. Luckily for the Longhorns, the possession resulted in a punt.

The offensive line struggled against Oklahoma’s pass rush.

“This was the best defense we’ve played,” said head coach Mack Brown. “But they outplayed us by far today.  I’m very disappointed offensively across the board.”

Joe Bergeron was tackled in the Texas end zone, adding two points to Oklahoma’s growing lead.  Blake Bell finished the scoring in the first half with his one-yard touchdown run.  The Longhorns went into the locker room at halftime with a 36-2 deficit.

Texas finished the half with 65 total yards while Oklahoma had 407. In addition, the Longhorns only had two rushing yards to the Sooners’ 206 in the half.

“It’s kind of shocking that we weren’t moving the ball,” said freshman running back Johnathan Gray. “That’s what we work hard on in practice.”

To start the scoring in the first half, Carrington Byndom intercepted Jones for a 28-yard touchdown return.  Anthony Fera missed the extra point and Texas cut the Sooners’ lead slightly, 36-8.

Ash had his third turnover of the game when he fumbled the ball.  He only had three turnovers all season coming into the matchup.

With 1:25 left in the third quarter, Jones threw a 25-yard touchdown to Trey Millard to make the score 46-8.   Late in the game, Jones threw a 14-yard pass to Justin Brown and Oklahoma’s Brennan Clay had a 1-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Sooners a commanding 63 points..

In the fourth quarter, David Ash left the game with a left wrist injury.  Case McCoy stepped in and threw two touchdown passes.  One touchdown was a 44-yard pass to Mike Davis and the other a 19-yard pass to John Harris in the final play of the game, making the final score 63-21.

As the game went on, what was once a sea of orange on Texas’ side of the stadium became scattered spots of disappointed fans watching their team lose, once again, to the Sooners.

“It’s just unacceptable for Texas to lose like that to Oklahoma,” Brown said.