By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
All the buzz surrounding the Texas Longhorn football team heading into this season was based on the vaunted defense — considered by many around the nation to be one of the top, if not the top, in college football.
“They are very similar. They have seven starters coming back, so the majority of their defense is back,” OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “They are aggressive and well-coached. You have to do what you do better than they defend it. ... You have to make sure you are sound in everything you do. I think they do a really good job and their guys play hard. They fly around the football.”
Through three games the Longhorns have given up more than 328 yards per game — ranking 34th in the country. It’s just 10 yards better than Oklahoma State’s defense, but Texas has given up just 16 points per contest, meaning the hype may not be that far off point.
One of the keys to Texas’ success on the defensive side is the team speed. It will be up to OSU to find a way to neutralize the defense’s ability to fly to the football.
“We just have to go north and south with the ball rather than side to side. That’s how you’ll neutralize that speed that they have,” Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle said.
“After watching tape, we know that they’re similar to what they were last year. They bring a lot of different blitzes. They’ll be way more blitz-heavy than anything we’ve gone against so far.”
After the way OSU’s offense — particularly the rushing attack — has shredded the Longhorn defense the last two years, Texas is most definitely out for revenge.
“Oklahoma State had the two long runs that killed us (last year),” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “Oklahoma State had a week (to prepare) before this game last year; that killed us.
“They had a third-and-24 they made. We’ve got to do a better job of getting off the field on the third downs, but we have to do a better job on the big plays.”
One thing Texas’ defense will look to do against Oklahoma State is sack the quarterback — whether its Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh in the backfield. In the three games this season, OSU’s offensive line has yet to give up a sack.
“It’s exciting. When you have a team that hasn’t been sacked, we want to get pressure on him and sack him, create turnovers,” Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “It’s fun to have that challenge set in front of you.”
While the defense may be one of the best the Cowboys will see to date, senior offensive lineman Lane Taylor said they can’t change their approach just because there will be a talented team across from them.
“We’ve got to approach the same way we do every week. Coaches are going to come up with a game plan and we are going to block it and keep the quarterback clean — and that’s our goal every week to do,” Taylor said. “So I don’t think it really changes much more the defense that we’ll be going against.
“It will be a good challenge to go up against guys that are that good. They are all talented and we know when we get out there that we are going to have a battle and it’s going to be a good game.”