The Longhorns (3-3, 2-1) will welcome Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1) to Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium this weekend. The Cowboys head to town coming off a 59-16 win over Baylor, and both teams are looking to keep their Big 12 Championship hopes alive with a win on Saturday. Let’s take a look at the Oklahoma State offense:
The Texas defense is faced with the tough task of having to play perhaps the best two quarterbacks in the Big 12 on back to back weeks. A week after facing Baker Mayfield, Texas will be tasked with trying to slow down Mason Rudolph. Rudolph has already piled up 2,348 passing yards and 19 touchdowns on the season, including a 459 yard performance with 3 touchdowns last week against Baylor. While he is not a dual-threat quarterback by any means, he has totaled 6 rushing touchdowns this season and is not afraid to keep a zone read near the goal line. The Senior will be making his 36th career start, and is 2-0 against Texas in his career.
Rudolph is a very polished passer who stands at 6’5 and has an excellent feel of the pocket. He has thrown just 4 interceptions on the year, and has the arm strength to make pretty much any throw on the field. Oklahoma State loves to run out of 2 back sets to help set up play action shots down the field. The secondary for Texas will have to clean up whatever coverage busts we have seen through the first 6 games, because Rudolph will make them pay.
Sophomore Justice Hill will lead the rushing attack for the Cowboys. Hill had a stellar 2016 season as a freshman, leading all freshman rushers in college football with 1,142 yards. He has continued that production so far this season, turning 105 carries into 633 yards and 5 touchdowns, and adding 15 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. A former track athlete, Hill has breakaway speed in the open field, but also the physicality to run between the tackles. Freshman J.D King will serve as the backup and has seen success in limited work. King has rushed for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns on 42 carries.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Oklahoma State has one of the most talented receiving groups in the country. The unit is lead by James Washington, Marcell Ateman and Jalen McCleskey, all of whom have at least 4 touchdowns on the season. Washington was a 2016 first team All-Big 12 member who might be the most electric player in the Big 12. The senior has 34 receptions for 882 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also a senior, Ateman is back at full strength after having to take a redshirt year in 2016 due to injury. Ateman has totaled 29 receptions for 568 yards and 4 touchdowns. At 6’4, he will present some matchup issues in the red zone. McCleskey is a junior who’s skill set is very similar to Washington’s. McCleskey has 25 catches for 355 yards and 5 touchdowns this season.
TE/FB Britton Abbott is the closest thing the Cowboys have to a traditional fullback or tight end. A former Walk-on, Abbott has the ability to help create big holes in the game.
The offensive line for Oklahoma State has had to deal with injuries for the majority of the season, losing starting guard Larry Williams early in the season. Tackle Zach Crabtree and center Brad Lundblade have also missed time at some point. Crabtree returned last week against Baylor and figures to be healthy enough to play on Saturday. He will man the right tackle position and entered 2017 with 34 career starts. Left tackle Aaron Cochran is graduate transfer from Cal who stands at 6’8 350 pounds with 32 career starts. Guards Marcus Keyes started every game at left guard at a true freshman in 2016, and has done the same so far in 2017. Redshirt freshman Teven Jenkins starts at right guard and stands 6’6 330 pounds. If Lundblade is unable to play, Sophomore Johnny Wilson will get the start at center.
The Texas defensive line got physically whipped by Oklahoma early in the game, but recovered to help the Longhorns stay in the game. The Cowboys may not have the most talented offensive line in the conference, but the running ability of Justice Hill and Mason Rudolph have helped mask a lot of issues they have had. The defensive front for Texas will have to play better against the run than a week ago, or Oklahoma State will have no problem putting up points in bunches.