Posted October 22nd, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Can Rod Muckelroy hold back the OSU offense?

Can Rod Muckelroy hold back the OSU offense?

The number one ranked Texas Longhorns face another tough test this weekend when the undefeated and seventh ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys come to town. Texas has met every challenge so far, and must show OSU the same respect they showed Oklahoma and [tag]Missouri[/tag] in order to stay at the top of the BCS. Three out of the last four times the Cowboys and Longhorns have met Oklahoma State took a lead into halftime. Texas was able to make the comeback with superior talent, but this OSU team is far better than in past years and may not give up the lead if they are able to get it.

When Texas has the ball

The Texas offense, led by super efficient quarterback [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], has been clicking on all cylinders this season. It has been hard for the offense to top the previous week’s performance for much of the year, but this week will be especially tough considering UT played its best game of the year last week in the destruction of a good Missouri team.

As with most Big 12 teams, the defense is behind the offense, and for this reason Texas expects to put up big numbers again. The emergence of a third receiver (and a fourth and a fifth) last week was almost as big as anything that has happened for this offense this year. Sophomore [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag] had a huge day, and has set himself up to be the outlet on blitzes and when a defense takes away [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] and [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag]. Teams have been unable to take away Shipley or Cosby for a whole game, but it will free up even more room to work if opposing coordinators have to game plan for the young studs at receiver. For most of the year Texas has lacked a deep ball threat in the passing game. That could have changed with the acrobatic catch by [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] which showed the freshman’s unique skill set. Fellow freshman [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag] also made a big play late in the game.

The running game is improving each week to the point where this offense no longer relies on McCoy to be their leading rusher. Texas has gone from having no running backs to having four. Senior [tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag] is playing at a level not even the coaching staff predicted, sophomore [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] had his best game of the season last week, freshman [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag] has been unstoppable on the goal line and in short yardage situations and fellow freshman Fozzy Whittaker finally got back in action, wasting no time showing off his ability on a 20 yard plus explosion through the middle of the Missouri defense.

The success of the offense depends on the play of the offensive line. So far, they have been dominant. Opposing defenses have chosen to blitz the Longhorn offense at a high frequently. McCoy says every team they have faced has blitzed more than they usually do in their games against UT. Oklahoma State already blitzes half the time and if that rate goes up this line will be key in providing time for McCoy and holes for the backs. Texas should have a physical advantage in this game and will look to exploit it more and more as the game wears on.

When Oklahoma State has the ball

This Oklahoma State offense could be the most balanced offense Texas will play all year. It will most definitely be the best running team, maybe the only running team that Texas has faced thus far. The Cowboys rely on a running back by committee but have relied heavily on Kendall Hunter as their main running threat.

Texas’ defense has been outstanding against the run, but it may be due to the teams they have faced. We will learn an awful lot about this defense after this game. We know they can get to the quarterback, but can they stop the run and get to the quarterback when a team throws a combination of the two at them for a whole game.

Last week the defense was dominant in the first half before taking their foot off the pedal in the second. It could have been the best thing that happened to Texas this week because it gave plenty for coaches [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] and [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] to complain about in film study. Some have said that the points Missouri put up in the second half (28 of them) was on the second team, but if you look back at the game only the last touchdown came with all second team guys on the field. Texas lost its passion, which is to be understood in a blow out win, but they must get it back this week and not start believing all the hype. This team looks to be great at forgetting last week and refocusing, but it only takes one flat game for all of the big wins to become obsolete.

Oklahoma State is not just a running team. In fact they may have the best receiver in the league in Dez Bryant. Bryant, a Texan by birth like everyone else it seems in the Big 12, has been tearing apart opposing defenses. Like Jeremy Maclin last week, the Longhorn defense will have to identify where Bryant is on every single play. Bryant has the ability to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, and he touches the ball in special teams, in the passing game, and on reverses and screens. Bryant is by far quarterback’s Zac Robinson’s favorite target.

Speaking of Robinson, the Longhorn defense will face a quarterback with a skill set they haven’t seen this year (if you don’t count the practice field). Robinson is efficient with the ball and has the ability to pull it down and take off if the defense breaks down. OSU uses him on different types of options to press the edge of a defense. The Cowboy offense does a great job of forcing a defense to move up before burning them deep. UT’s defense must stay at home and prevent big plays in order to come out with this win.

This is the type of game that scares a team. But Muschamp and this defense face a similar offense everyday and practice, so I expect no problems in terms of scheme for this defense.

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