The entire defense, part two
It was déjà vu last Saturday in Stillwater. It was missed tackle after missed tackle and blown assignment after blown assignment — the same problems that killed Texas just two weeks prior against California. Put simply, the Texas defense has been bad — really bad — and there have been no signs of any improvement that give reason to believe things will get better. Head coach Charlie Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford had a full two weeks to right the ship and get their unit ready for an explosive Oklahoma State offense. But nothing changed, only that the defense looked even worse, giving up a head-spinning 555 yards of offense.
This week, the Longhorns face yet another dynamic offense, led by Oklahoma junior quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield, who ranks second in the Big 12 in passing efficiency, is one of the conference’s most dynamic offensive threats. Texas did a good job of containing Mayfield in last year’s Red River Showdown, sacking him six times and holding him to just 206 total yards. Whether or not the Longhorns can get anywhere near that type of performance this week is highly questionable the way things have been trending. Strong and Bedford need to find answers on defense before this once-promising season takes a real turn for the worst.
The kicking game
It’s hard to figure how kicking extra points has become such a task — nay, obstacle — for Texas, but it has. The Longhorns had three extra points blocked against Oklahoma State, with one being returned for two points. It was head-scratching, yet it wasn’t exactly anything new. Texas had an extra point blocked and taken back for two against Notre Dame in week one. To add to the bad play, senior kicker Trent Domingue missed another field goal against Oklahoma State. Domingue has now missed three of his last five attempts.
Special teams can often be overlooked, but they can be a deal-breaker in big games. The Red River Showdown is historically known for having big plays on special teams that have often had dramatic impacts on games. If Texas hopes to have any shot against Oklahoma, it cannot make crucial errors on special teams and in the kicking game.
Texas experienced major scares last week against Oklahoma State when sophomore running back Chris Warren III and junior running back D’Onta Foreman each left the game with injuries. Warren suffered a knee injury and remains out indefinitely. Foreman injured his rib but is expected to play on Saturday. Even still, third-string freshman Kyle Porter will likely see an increased role. In three games this season, Porter has only had 15 carries but has ran the ball well, averaging 4.1 yards per rush. The freshman out of Katy, Texas, should see a significant workload this week and will have to be ready when his number is called.