Texas got back in the win column this past Saturday with a victory over Baylor, 27-16, to improve their record to 2-2 in Big 12 play. Now, the Longhorns will travel to Stillwater for their toughest road contest of the year when they face off against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 3-0 in Big 12 play and 4-0 overall on the season. Mike Gundy’s team presents some major challenges offensively and defensively, and Tom Herman did not shy away from saying the Longhorns will have to play their ‘A’ game to beat the Cowboys. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Oklahoma State.
The Oklahoma State offense got off to a rocky start to begin the season when starting QB Spencer Sanders went down with an injury in the season opener against Tulsa, which caused him to also miss the Cowboys wins over West Virginia and Kansas. The redshirt sophomore returned this past weekend against Iowa State and looked to be 100% healthy. With Sanders back at the helm, the Cowboys offense is one of the best in the Big 12. The Texas native who played his high school football at Denton Ryan is a true dual threat and has excellent touch on his deep passes. If there is one thing holding Sanders back, it is the fact he can and will turn the ball over. He threw 11 interceptions in 2019 and added two more this past weekend against the Cyclones. If the Texas defensive line is able to generate pressure, there could be several opportunities for the secondary to take advantage.
Everyone in the country is aware of RB Chuba Hubbard, who busted onto the national scene in 2019 while rushing for over 2,000 yards. Hubbard is off to another strong start this season, rushing for 478 yards and 5 TD’s. His backup LD Brown is averaging over 6 yards a carry and has looked just as strong, if not better than Hubbard, at certain points this season.
Tylan Wallace absolutely torched Texas in the matchup in Stillwater in 2018 (10 catches, 222 and 2 touchdowns) and one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12. Wallace suffered a torn ACL in the middle of the 2019 season but looks like his normal self through the first 4 games of the season. Senior Dillon Stoner operates out of the slot and has had big games against Texas in the past. The other two main pass catchers are Braydon Johnson and TE Jelani Woods, who had a touchdown in the 2018 meeting and is a huge target at 6’7.
After the opener against Tulsa, it appeared the offensive line for Oklahoma State was going to be the weakest position group on the team. Mike Gundy and offensive line coach Charlie Dickey had their work cut out for them, but they have found a way to piece the unit together and they have played well the last several weeks. Walk on redshirt freshman Jake Springfield has taken over at left tackle and has helped steady a shaky line.
The Cowboys have the best defense in the Big 12. The unit is filled with veteran players who have experience in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles system. 9 of 11 starters are upperclassmen and the secondary in particular is very strong. CB Rodarius Williams is a 4-year starter who is one of the best corners in the conference. There is no doubt he knows how much Texas receivers struggle against press coverage. At safety, Kolby Harvey-Peel and Tre Sterling are very smart players. Texas should not expect to see the coverage bust they took advantage of versus Baylor.
The linebacker duo of Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen Ogbongbemiga will be the best the Longhorns have faced thus far this season. Both are very dangerous coming on blitzes and the Texas offensive line has to know where they are at all times, especially on passing downs. Herb Hand must have his unit ready to play or it could be a long day.
The argument could be made that this might be the most talented Oklahoma State team Mike Gundy has had since he’s been the head coach in Stillwater. If Texas is going to hang around in this game, they must find a way to move the ball consistently offensively. The Longhorns have struggled all year to run the ball and if they are going to pull off the upset, Sam Ehlinger will have to carry them there with the passing game.
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