Texas travels up to Stillwater this weekend after coming off their bye week. Though I missed watching the team play I actually am glad they had a week to rest and re-group after a pretty good showing their first three games. After seeing this team in action itâ€™s safe to say the running game is dominant. The receiversâ€™ play as well as David Ash performs, which has actually been pretty decent. Jaxon Shipley should touch the ball 10 times a game, Mike Davis is re-immerging as the playmaker we knew him to be his freshman year, and Marquis Goodwin has the potential to take it to the house anytime he touches the ball and his all around game has improved a lot from previous seasons. The offensive line still has some growing to do but the unit seems to get better each game and the tight end position is almost non-existent. As for the defense and special teams, the defensive ends are big time players, especially Jeffcoat. The defensive line is starting to strengthen up again and be a reliable part of the front seven. The linebackers are young/inexperienced (aside from Hicks) but have much talent and have been playing well. The secondary, thought to be the best part of the defense, has been susceptible to big plays each game but their talent is incredible and if they can become more disciplined and consistent then they could easily take over games and shut down offenses. We have still yet to see Anthony Fera play in a game but he has to be better than any current kicker Texas has used for field goals. The kick/punt returners are dangerous but we are still waiting for someone take one to the house. And on top of all of that the special teams unit is blocking kicks/punts again, which usually means the team has talent and depth in many different places across the roster.
Oklahoma State has gotten the better of the Longhorns for the past two years. This program in Stillwater isnâ€™t the OSU that many older UT fans used to know. They are stronger and continue to get talented recruits. This game could be pivotal in UTâ€™s success for the rest of the season. Below are the different things I will be watching out for during the game this weekend. For this game I have the help of one of my friends, Peter Gonzalez (@peter_glz) who is a former intern of a Texas Longhorn sports website. He gave me some great info on the current state of the Cowboys and an idea on how the game could go.
The last time we saw the Longhorns in action they pulled out a win over their SEC opponent, Ole Miss. That night in Oxford David Ash passed for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns. The running backs, led my Malcolm Brownâ€™s 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, ran for a total of 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. The offense was almost perfectly balanced and performed exactly as they need to if they want to be a team that should be respected nationally. On the other side of the ball the defense was pretty good but after giving up 31 points (7 of these came off a kick return for a touchdown) they still have much to prove.
Here are 5 things Iâ€™m interested in most for this game. (No particular order).
- Can David Ash not only build on his most recent performance but also improve off of his performance in Oxford. He put up great stats and actually had a decent game. But a few of his longer passes were underthrown and he even admitted he needed to improve on that. I still think David Ash is a kid who will gain confidence and become the leader of the team based on his play during games. A strong game in Stillwater after a pretty good performance in Oxford would be big for Ash. Oklahoma Stateâ€™s defense is better than Ole Miss but they havenâ€™t played as well as expected so farâ€¦ Sounds similar to the Longhorns. This will be a big road game for Ash.
- Oklahoma State ranks first among the NCAA in total yards per game and points per game, as they average 686.7 yards and 62.3 points per game. Itâ€™s still early in the season, and like most OSU hasnâ€™t played the best of teams. But they are still first in both those categories and Manny Diaz obviously has taken note of that. The defense for the Longhorns has played well but not nearly as well as most of us think the unit can play. Consistency is key because the talent and depth of the defense is as strong as any team in the nation. Everyone is still waiting to see if OSUâ€™s QB Wes Lunt will play this weekend. Regardless, OSU still has talent on offense, especially in the backfield led by junior running back Joseph Randle. The 6â€™ 1â€, 200lb pack has average 6.7 yards per carry and racked up 335 yards and scored 4 touchdowns so far this season. This will be a great test for the defense against a talented running back.
- Along the lines of the defense, Jordan Hicks and Brandon Moore wonâ€™t be making the trip to Stillwater this weekend. Though Brandon Moore has played well, his absence wonâ€™t be missed as much as Hicks, who has established himself not only as a leader for the linebackers but for the entire defense. Iâ€™ll be very curious to see how the linebackers play, specifically the reserves Kendall Thompson and Tevin Jackson, who will be see playing time that would have gone to Hicks. Jackson can lay the woodâ€¦
- The offensive line continues to have its ups and downs but I was actually pleased with the unit two weeks ago against Ole Miss. I keep focusing attention on the offensive line because so much rides on the O-line. Texas has great running backs but if the line canâ€™t open up running lanes then the RBâ€™s talent becomes handcuffed and the strength of the offense takes a hit. In addition to that, if the offensive line doesnâ€™t pass protect well enough then that just adds more pressure (literally and figuratively) to Ash that he really doesnâ€™t need. This bye week may have helped the offensive line more than any other unit on the team.
- The final big aspect of the game Iâ€™ll be looking out for is exactly how many touches the playmakers on offense will receive during the game. I personally want to see Marquis, Monroe, and Shipley get more touches. They all can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. Heck, even freshmen Daje Johnson could be thrown in with those guys.
After three games so far Iâ€™ve been happy with how the team has played. But I still want to see improvements across the board. Texas has received a lot of national attention this past week but that attention is premature, if you ask me. There is a lot of football to be played. But I havenâ€™t been this excited for a Longhorn team to enter Big 12 play in more than a year, and thatâ€™s way too long.
The game on Saturday will be played in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:50 (CT) P.M. Notable Injuries: LB Jordan Hicks (out), DT Brandon Moore (out), K Anthony Fera (out).
Join in on the conversation. What will you be looking for?
Twitter: @WesKCrochet E-mail: Wes.Sports@hotmail.com