ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit will have a busy Saturday. He'll start out in South Bend, Ind., for “College GameDay,” previewing the Stanford-Notre Dame game, then will fly to Baton Rouge, La., to broadcast the South Carolina at LSU game at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. Even though he won't be at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, he discussed the OU-Texas game in a conference call this week.
Neither team is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999; each team has one conference loss. Are both teams in survival mode this weekend?
I think Oklahoma was in survival mode a week ago when they went to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. If there was ever a must win for Oklahoma that was it after losing to Kansas State and coming off a bye week and having to go on the road into a tough environment. They played very well. Even though their ranking is down to 13th, I think they come in with a lot of belief and momentum based on what they did a week ago. For Texas, I wonder where their psyche is. They have won four games. They had a shot to beat West Virginia and very easily could have been 5-0. This has been two or three years now where they have been reaching to get to where Mack Brown knows he can get his team. But for them to not only be sitting there at 4-1 but giving up 26 points a game defensively, is very unlike Texas. If I was to look at these two teams, I would say that Oklahoma comes into this game with a little better state of mind and with a little more belief in themselves than Texas is right now.
What's your impression on OU quarterback Landry Jones' senior season?
I think of all the players who are playing college football this year, the one guy who is as big a mystery to me as anybody is Landry Jones. As we all know, he really ran into tough times last year ... I don't know if it was Ryan Broyles' injury or Blake Bell coming on to be kind of the red-zone guy. It was a combination of things, but he didn't seem to be as confident to me as he was earlier in his career. Then with the way things transpired in the K-State game, it was almost a carry-over from a year ago. So I think going into that game against Texas Tech, I think he was at a real crossroads in his career. He stepped up and put up some big numbers and avoided mistakes. I think now he comes up to this game in a good place. He has played in this game I think four times, going back to the injury to Sam Bradford. He knows what this game is about. Let's face it: Texas' defense is struggling to tackle people. If I'm Landry Jones, I'm just trying to get the ball to my playmakers in space and let them make some plays against Texas.
What are your thoughts on the progression of Texas quarterback David Ash?
I had a chance to talk to him in Austin in August. I found him to be a guy who was very motivated, sure of himself and very determined to have a great year. And so to see him this year playing the way he is doesn't shock me. He is in his second year with (offensive coordinator) Bryan Harsin; I think he understands the offense a lot better. … I think right now he is playing with a ton of confidence. I think his touchdown to interception ratio is like 11 to 1 and he just seems like a guy right now who is not just doing it with his athletic ability, he is doing it with his mind and his arm. I'd be shocked if this offense got off track. ... I think there are a lot of good players around him right now. There is a lot more speed. They are executing at a high level on that side of the ball.