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Offensive Preview: Oklahoma State

The Texas defense must stop OSU running back Justice Hill if they wish to leave Stillwater with a win.

Photo: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
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Following a bye week, Texas will hit the road and travel to Stillwater as they look to improve to 5-0 in Big 12 Conference play. The Longhorns will face an Oklahoma State team that is desperate for momentum. The Cowboys enter Saturday with a 1-3 conference record, including a thorough beatdown at the hands of Kansas State two weeks ago. Oklahoma State will have several new faces on offense compared to the 2017 squad, but the overall philosophy for Mike Gundy’s crew remains the same: get the ball down the field to generate big plays, allowing running lanes to open up for Justice Hill. Let’s take a look at the Oklahoma State offense:

Quarterback

Fans are getting restless in Stillwater. Taylor Cornelius has taken every meaningful snap at QB so far this season, but it has been an up and down year for the senior who spent the last 3 seasons learning the offense behind Mason Rudolph. Despite the clamoring for a QB change, with most wanting to see true freshman Spencer Sanders, head coach Mike Gundy has been adamant he plans on sticking with Cornelius.

Cornelius has thrown for 2,014 yards while tossing 16 touchdowns to go along with 8 interceptions. His 59% completion percentage leaves a lot to be desired, as does his ability to handle pressure in the pocket. Regardless, he presents a few challenges for the Texas defense. Although he is not considered a runner, his 6’6 frame makes him tough to bring down once he gets going, and he possesses a strong arm.

If there was ever a time for Gundy to throw a curveball and get snaps for Sanders, it could be against the Longhorns. With only 5 games remaining (not including a possible bowl game), the Cowboys could opt to use Saturday as one of the 4 games Sanders can play in while retaining his redshirt.

Running Back

It feels like he’s been at Oklahoma State for 7 years already, but Justice Hill is only a junior, and he is quietly having a very good year. Hill is averaging over 6 yards a carry and has racked up 7 touchdowns. He is a very good runner between the tackles and has good speed. C.D King and Chuba Hubbard will spell him on a few occasions, but Hill carries the bulk of the carries for the Cowboys. Last year, Hill ran for 117 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown against Texas.

Wide Receiver

Without James Washington and Marcell Ateman, the Oklahoma State needed players to step up at Wide Receiver in 2018. Jalen McCleskey figured to be one of those players, but the senior quit the team after 4 games so he could redshirt and transfer. His reasoning was he was not seeing the ball enough having only caught 15 passes in 4 games. In his absence, the Cowboys have leaned heavily on sophomore Tylan Wallace, who has 718 yards on 40 receptions with 4 touchdowns. Tyron Johnson starts opposite of Wallace, and the former 5-star recruit who originally signed with LSU has 399 yards to go along with 3 touchdowns. Slot receiver Dillon Stoner had a good season in 2017 as a redshirt freshman but is still trying to develop chemistry with Cornelius (16 catches for 215 yards).

Offensive Line

The departures of Rudolph, Washington and Ateman tempered expectations for the Oklahoma State offense entering 2018, but subpar offensive line play has made life even more difficult for the Cowboys offense. Oklahoma State currently ranks 98th in the country in sacks allowed. The unit was physically whipped by Kansas State 2 weeks ago and have had moments this year where they have looked downright awful. Oklahoma State has their usual mixture of experience and size, but it just has not translated to the field this year. Gundy and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich do a nice job scheming to help cover up their deficiencies, but the Texas defensive line should have plenty of opportunities to cause disruption in the backfield.

Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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