Keys to the Game: vs. Oklahoma State

Wills Layton

Stop Mason Rudolph and the air attack

In the Cowboys’ previous game against Baylor, senior quarterback Mason Rudolph and his wide receivers put on a passing clinic. Rudolph threw for 459 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide receiver James Washington caught one of those touchdowns, and racked up 235 receiving yards during the matchup.

The Longhorns had trouble stopping Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield throughout their disappointing loss to the Sooners last Saturday. Texas took a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Sooners completed the final touchdown to seal the victory, 29-24. While the Longhorn defense has improved as the season has progressed, a last-minute slip up could be costly against the Cowboys this weekend.

Texas’ defense faces arguably its toughest test when Oklahoma State comes to town, as the Cowboy offense has scored at least 41 points in each of its wins this season. The key to slowing down the Oklahoma State offense is to put pressure on Rudolph while having aggressive coverage in the secondary.

Let Ehlinger do his thing

Freshman Sam Ehlinger continues to build his résumé at the starting quarterback position, despite close losses to USC and Oklahoma. He shows incredible toughness and grit in his game — the true freshman has rushed for over 200 yards in the past two games.

To defeat Oklahoma State, Ehlinger will need to replicate the gutsy performances he’s shown thus far this season. He must continue to run the ball well and limit mistakes in order to compete with Heisman candidate Rudolph. With a running game that has struggled all season, the duty falls on Ehlinger to lead the Longhorn offense.

Run the ball more effectively

For the second game in a row, the Longhorn running backs failed to gain much yardage on the ground against the Sooners. Junior running back Chris Warren III was successful at catching screen passes, but the only Texas player to establish any sort of a ground game against Oklahoma was Ehlinger, who scrambled for 110 of the team’s 139 total rushing yards.

The offense has been able to avoid becoming one-dimensional by the virtue of Ehlinger’s ability to scramble when the pocket collapses. He keeps opposing defenses honest and allows receivers to get open by keeping linebackers closer to the line.

In arguably the biggest game of the season in terms of which direction this team will take moving forward, the offense must click. The only way for that to happen is to find consistency on the ground.