Whatever the Texas Longhorns have to do to fix the problems with the pass defense has to be accomplished by the time the Big 12 opener against the Oklahoma State Cowboys arrives in Week 4. The good news for the Longhorns is the fact that a potential rebound opportunity presents itself this weekend in a neutral site game against the Rice Owls.
Rice holds a record of 0-2 and is coming off losses to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Army Black Knights. In both games, the Owls held strong for at least the first half, but tended to fade off down the stretch. But a quality Army team was only able to squeak by Rice by the final score of 14-7. Wake Forest’s win over Rice came by the final score of 41-21, so it was a tad more decisive.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns enter Week 3 with a record of 1-1. The loss came last week at the hands of the LSU Tigers 45-38. And the win came against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 45-14, in the season opener. This should be the easiest opponent for the Longhorns during the non-conference schedule, if not for the entire regular season.
The one problem area that overshadowed everything else in last week’s loss to LSU was the pass defense. The Longhorns allowed more than 470 passing yards and four scores, as the LSU receiving corps ravaged the secondary. Defending the pass against Louisiana Tech didn’t go so smooth, either.
A potential fix for the defensive backfield ahead of the start of Big 12 play is getting new faces involved. One intriguing option if defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is ready to move beyond sophomores Anthony Cook and Kobe Boyce is true freshman and Georgia native Kenyatta Watson II. In the season opening win over Louisiana Tech, Watson II got a small bit of playing time in the second half. But he was only able to amass one tackle.
The raw talent and ball skills that the former four-star cornerback recruit Watson II brings to the table gives the Longhorns secondary a chance to revitalize itself against Rice. Since Rice will be rolling with their backup quarterback this weekend against Texas, Watson II might have an easier adjustment to playing more meaningful snaps on defense.
Whether it be Cook stepping up, Orlando turning to Watson II, or sophomore corner D’shawn Jamison, something has to give in the secondary this week before Big 12 play begins at home on Sep. 21 against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
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