Defense needs to come alive
On Saturday against Oklahoma State and for the rest of the season, Texas’ defense needs to deliver.
Texas is among a handful of teams that has’t recorded an interception yet this season. Two weekends ago against California, head coach Charlie Strong made a crucial decision to punt the ball on fourth down late in the game because he had faith in his defense.
But the unit couldn’t stop the Golden Bears in the final minutes. Texas has allowed its opponent to score at least 47 points in two of its first three games this season.
The Longhorns need to take advantage of the bye week and come out with a fired up defensive squad.
Protect the line
With the absence of suspended senior offensive linemen Kent Perkins, the unit will have a large gap to fill against a monstrous Oklahoma State defensive line.
When Saturday morning rolls around in Stillwater, one of the Longhorns’ biggest challenges will be keeping up with the Cowboys’ strong defensive line. The Cowboys’ defense ranks 15th nationally in tackles for loss, producing nearly nine negative plays per game.
After last year’s Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, made his way to the NFL, a dropoff of production on the defensive line was expected for the Cowboys — but that never happened. Ogbah’s replacements on the line, redshirt sophomore Cole Walterscheid and redshirt sophomore Jarrell Owens, have been impressive for the Cowboys through four games, with each recording two sacks and contributing to the team’s 35 total tackles
Oklahoma State boasts an efficient defensive line that holds its opponents to an average of 3.59 yards per carry. The Longhorns will look to their two colossal backs, junior D’Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren III, to break past the defensive line, but Strong’s offensive line needs to stand strong and allow the offense to play comfortably.
Contain Mason Rudolph
Containing the opposing quarterback has been a difficult task for the Longhorns and it won’t get any easier this week.
Junior quarterback Mason Rudolph, one of the premier passers in the nation, has launched six touchdowns and two interceptions this season while averaging 324 aerial yards per game.
Oklahoma State’s offensive line has allowed more sacks than any other team in the Big 12, so Texas has to take advantage and make Rudolph uncomfortable. The Longhorns have already been smoked by two elite quarterbacks in Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Cal’s Davis Webb, with Rudolph and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield next on the slate.
Oklahoma State’s junior receiver James Washington is the No. 1 receiver in the Big 12 through four weeks of play, accounting for 25 catches, 488 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rudolph-to-Washington connection will present a huge test for Texas’ secondary.