The entire defense
After the aerial assault California delivered on the Texas defense two weeks ago that left Longhorn defensive backs dazed and confused, head coach Charlie Strong promised things would get fixed moving forward. California quarterback Davis Webb and his top receiving target Chad Hansen lit up the Longhorns. Missed coverages, blown assignments and poor tackling doomed Texas in a 50-43 loss.
Strong vowed that won’t happen again. And with last week’s bye, Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford have had ample time to get things fixed. But the test this Texas defense faces on Saturday in Stillwater is no walk in the park by any means.
Like California, Oklahoma State loves to throw the ball. How much the defense, and particularly the secondary, has improved in the last two weeks will be evident early on.
The Cowboys have a talented quarterback in junior Mason Rudolph and plenty of receiving threats, including the nation’s fifth-leading receiver in junior James Washington.
It will take a collective effort from the defense if the Longhorns hope to not fall into mediocrity. Sophomore end Breckyn Hager and freshman end Malcolm Roach have both been disruptors, and they’ll need to help get a pass rush going early against a vulnerable Oklahoma State offensive line that gives up a lot of sacks.
As for the secondary, it will have its work cut out for itself again. If the Longhorns can at the very least just slow down Rudolph and Washington, then they will have a good chance of winning. But that in and of itself is a tall order for a unit that is still licking its wounds from two weeks ago.
The Longhorns will be without senior right guard Kent Perkins, who was suspended for one game following a DWI arrest on Sept. 23. The loss of Perkins leaves a big hole on the right side of the offensive line.
Whoever Strong decides to start in place of Perkins will have big shoes to fill against a dangerous Oklahoma State defensive line that anchors the third-ranked Big 12 rushing defense. The Longhorns’ offensive line will need its strongest performance yet on Saturday.
Buechele faced his first road test two weeks ago against California. The true freshman took a big hit in the first quarter and briefly left the game. But Buechele returned and finished the game with 196 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Despite some mistakes,
Buechele managed the offense well and continued to prove why he’s the right man to lead Texas behind center. This week, Oklahoma State poses a stout defensive front. If the Cowboys have success early containing Texas’ run game, then Buechele will have to be able to throw the ball effectively and he’s proven through three games that he can do that at a high level.