Preview: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
As the college football season progresses, many teams become dominators of the media and remain at the forefront of the many conversations. Unfortunately, right now Texas is not one of those teams. This season was supposed to be the season to make real changes for the University of Texas team. It still could be. But the promise the Longhorns walked in on is fast evaporating, only leaving questions in its wake. Will the Longhorns be able to rebound? Who can say?
A coach and his team
Charlie Strong still has high hopes for his team, despite their last loss to the Golden Bears of California on the road. When asked if the team has a chance to win the Big 12, Charlie Strong replied: “Why not us?” He defended his position by referencing the two quarterbacks that have worked for the team thus far, and running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren II, powerful players with huge playmaking abilities. He also referenced his playmaking wide receivers and major depth in his offensive line. Even as Strong puts intense pressure on solving the Longhorns’ defensive woes, he feels the strength of his offense is enough to put his team in the position to bounce back from this loss and continue forward process through the rest of the season.
Where the Longhorns stand against Oklahoma State
So now the bye week is over. Charlie Strong has made it clear the Longhorns needed a defensive intervention and that he was up to the task. What’s next? Well, the Longhorns have a challenge in Oklahoma State that they have yet to face. They are about to face a team against which they are evenly matched – at least in an offensive perspective. They are going on the road for a game that in most people’s eyes will be decided on how well the Texas Longhorns are able to hold up on the defensive side of the ball.
Oklahoma State has a secondary that is sixth-ranked nationally, with 171 air attempts. Their quarterback, Mason Rudolph, has an arm and likes to use it. In games against Central Michigan, Baylor and Pittsburgh, the ball was in the air at least 44 times. Then there is James Washington, the receiver he likes to connect with, who, even against defenses that have given them competition, has made 25 catches and had three touchdowns to back them up. This is probably the toughest thing the Longhorns will have to face – an offense that has already had the chance to see the way Cal exploited their weaknesses and has the offense to exploit them all. The expectation is that Oklahoma State will do everything they can to keep the ball in the air. Texas is going to have to come up with a real plan to stop their potential for an aid raid.
What makes this situation dynamic is that Oklahoma State is as good in their passing game as they are in their running game. Rennie Childs and Justice Hall are the kings of the rush. Even with averaging roughly 127 yards per game, they have added 11 touchdowns on the board. Having the ability to have a solid attack on Oklahoma State’s passing and rushing can be quite a task with the current defensive issues on the Longhorns team. This is comparable to going into the bye with a broken Volkswagen and expecting to come out with a Cadillac. Both teams are going to need to take advantage of having good depth. Both the Longhorns and the Cowboys average in the 86 snap per game range. The young talent on both sides will be required to step in and pick up the slack.
Texas has the potential to run up yardage and points in this game, but the front seven of the Cowboys could give them serious opposition. Oklahoma State’s defense currently ranks ninth nationally with 35 tackles for loss. It might not be the most feared pass rush, but this is a defense that has the ability to get to the quarterback and has done so nine times this season. If the Longhorn offensive line does not stand up during this game, it could mean real problems.
Some good news for the Longhorns? Oklahoma State has a horrible sack record this season. They have 14 sacks so far, which in itself shows ways the Longhorns could exploit their defensive holes to turn over the ball, especially when the Longhorn defense leads the conference in sacks.
Best believe this will be the Longhorns’ toughest challenge this season. It will show what changes Charlie Strong made in the bye week and whether they will make a conclusive change in their defensive strategy. What’s next? We will learn Saturday in Stillwater.