In his first season as Texas’ head coach, Charlie Strong has rebuilt the Longhorns, but also reconfirmed several of the key factors Texas has become known for over the years.
With notable alumni such as Chris Carter, Earl Thomas, and Quentin Jammer (among others) laying the foundation as “DB-U,” Texas’ defensive backs certainly have big shoes to fill. But this season has been one of rebirth for their corners and safeties, as Texas currently ranks No. 16 in the nation in interceptions (13), and two pick-6’s.
Texas is ranked just slightly higher than the Oklahoma State Cowboys, standing at 5-5 and 4-5 in Big XII play. The Cowboys are 5-4 and 3-3, so this is a must-win for both teams as they try to keep their bowl dreams alive. Texas lost to the once No. 11 ranked Oklahoma Sooners 31-26 earlier this season, so they are trying to seek revenge from OU’s in-state rival this weekend.
The Longhorns aren’t exactly frontrunners when it comes to passing and rushing stats, but sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has shown immense improvement and flashes this season, passing for 1,847 yards and 10 touchdowns. While he’s been sacked 17 times, it was largely due to the shuffling and lack of depth at the offensive line position. The Longhorns have adjusted accordingly, allowing only four sacks this month.
Texas has its identity back, and logic goes beyond sheer luck; they’re playing more disciplined, and it seems like Strong’s code of conduct is resonating, with positive results. They respect each other, and it’s reminiscent of Texas’ glory days.
While Texas is heating up, Oklahoma State heads into this game on a three game losing skid at the hands of TCU, West Virginia, and Kansas State. With Baylor and Oklahoma left on their schedule, it definitely won’t be an “end all” situation if the Cowboys lose (especially with Oklahoma’s recent bad luck). It’s obvious the State of Oklahoma (but mainly Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy) would like to go two for two against Texas teams this weekend.
Cowboys’ quarterback Daxx Garman has thrown for 1,883 passing yards and 11 touchdowns but is completing only 54.5% of his passes. He’s been sacked 24 times this season, but like Texas’s numbers, that’s tapered down to five this month. Garman’s 11 interceptions have been a problem, because as previously mentioned, DB-U is getting back in its rhythm. With that in mind, Oklahoma State’s top receivers, David Glidden, James Washington, Brandon Sheperd, and Jhajuan Seales are going to face some tough coverage, so don’t be surprised if those match-ups get chippy.
When it comes to teams in Oklahoma and Texas playing each other, expect raw and gritty play. I have a feeling this one is going to be a tight contest.
*Section Photo and Featured Photo (above) credit to Stacy Revere, Getty Images.