Baylor takes best shot at Sooners; TCU hosts Tech

D1A Rugby: Baylor takes best shot at Sooners; TCU hosts Tech

BOULDER, Colo. – The second week of Red River action will see Oklahoma host Baylor and Texas Tech visit TCU. The Sooners currently sit just outside of the Canterbury D1A Top 20, and a win against the Bears could push them into the rankings. TCU will play its first home game of the season, but will have its hands full playing a Texas Tech team coming off a big win over Texas.

TCU vs. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders quietly finished third in the Red River last year, and have the look of sleeper contender for the 2016 conference title. Last week’s 23-point victory over the Longhorns may look like a stroll in the park, but Texas Tech showed grit and determination by rallying from 19 points down.

“Last week, we found ourselves down by a big margin early in the game, but the guys kept fighting,” described Tech Head Coach Jason Bramow. “We kept out heads up and settled ourselves into the game using the power of our forwards.”

After a second look at last week’s win and the Red Raiders feel they understand what they need to correct to ensure they don’t fall into an early hole against the Horned Frogs.

“We will have to be stronger in the breakdown and shore up the early defensive problems that allowed Texas to gain its lead,” Bramow added.

TCU, a team still seeking its first conference win since the conference’s 2015 inception, most score more points to earn that elusive victory.

“It comes down to closing the deal,” explained Horned Frog Head Coach TeShay Flowers. “In both of our Red River games we have had opportunities, but we have failed to cash in on them. We must stay in our game plan.”

Not only will TCU need to stick with its structures to have success Saturday, but it will also need to match Texas Tech’s physicality.

“I expect the same thing I always get from Tech – a tough, opportunistic squad that is going to hit you in the mouth,” Flowers attested. “If you allow them to dictate the style of game you are playing, you’re in for a long day. If you can get them out of their comfort zone, your chances for success will increase.”

Oklahoma vs. Baylor
The Sooners are off to a 3-0 start in Red River play, and have won their trio of matches by an average of 26 points. The team’s latest win against Texas A&M, although by their smallest margin of the season, is possible the best win up to this point. Sixty minutes into the match, Oklahoma trailed only to reel off the final 14 points of the game.

“I was very happy to see that we were able to come back,” said Oklahoma Head Coach Dough Neubauer. “We did it against Arkansas in the fall, and it shows that we have the heart and a ‘don’t quit’ attitude. However, I would prefer we don’t have to come back in a game. At some point it may bite us.”

Baylor could present additional challenges to the undefeated side. In a fall friendly, the Bears were able to pull off a narrow victory over Texas A&M.

“Baylor has not escaped our scrutiny,” Neubauer said. “[Eight man] Pete Hamm is a concern, as well as Coach Mason Hering having them working hard. We know they will be ready and are preparing for another battle.”

Baylor is the only Red River team that is yet to dip its toe into conference play.

“The boys are itching to get some action this weekend after sitting out the first weekend of conference play,” said the Bears’ Hering. “We’re ready to see how we stack up against the best in our conference, and right now that team is Oklahoma.”

The boys from Waco, Tex. don’t have a ton of results to show for thus far in the 2015-16 season, but its win over the Aggies shows the team has the promise to improve on its 1-4 conference record from a season ago. First, they’ll have to contend with a very athletic Sooner team.

“I’m anticipating the same we seem to see from them every year, which is an extremely talented and well-coached team,” Hering said. “They will be fit, they’ll run hard and execute the basics with precision.”

Especially playing on the road, Baylor understands there is little room for error and will have to play well in all phases to have a shot of handing Oklahoma its first loss.

“We’ll have to be very sharp and disciplined to beat them,” added Hering. “I think physically we can match up pretty well with them, but we’ll have to be mentally switched on from the start or they can jump out to an early lead.”