Texas wins if, loses if: Oklahoma State

Vicente Montalvo, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the October 15 Double Coverage flipbook.

Texas wins if…

… Marcus Washington steps up

Last Saturday’s matchup in Dallas resulted in an injury for Jordan Whittington. The sophomore wide out will be out for surgery with no timetable to return after suffering a clavicle injury. Junior Marcus Washington is set to replace Whittington in his absence. This season, Washington has only seen action in two games, gaining 23 yards in two catches. It is also worth noting that Washington will be pivoting from being starter Joshua Moore’s backup. Whittington has been reliable for Texas with his hands and was utilized in short yardage plays with the jet sweep option. Look to see how Washington fits into his new role on the Longhorns offense and how his chemistry with junior quarterback Casey Thompson unravels.

… the offensive line adjustment works

After a preferably forgettable outing for Longhorn fans against the Sooners in Dallas, offensive line coach Kyle Flood has decided to rework the offensive line. Only fourth-year left tackle Christian Jones and redshirt freshman center Jake Majors will continue to play the same position as they have all season. Right guard Tope Imade will make his way into the starting lineup, and will look to work with right tackle Derek Kerstetter. Junior Angilau will move from his familiar right guard position to the left guard position and will help to defend against the Oklahoma State front seven — a line that is fast and strong on a No. 12 ranked Oklahoma State team. Look to see how Texas’ reworked offensive line creates lanes for running backs and tries to protect Thompson in the pocket.

… Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense comes alive

Under defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, the Texas defense had some strong plays last Saturday, but couldn’t contain a fast-paced Oklahoma Sooner offense. Oklahoma State’s offense prefers to get its receivers out in space for opportunities against man-on-man coverage by cornerbacks. The Cowboys have consistently produced great wide outs, and this year is no different with freshmen standouts Rashod Owens and Blaine Green. The Texas defense needs to be ready to keep up with the Cowboy offense and make big plays, especially on third downs.

Loses if…

… Malcolm Rodriguez has a big game

Senior Malcolm Rodriguez is the undisputed leader of the Cowboys defense. Rodriguez has led the team in total tackles the previous two seasons and is on pace to run it back this year. In his previous four games against the Longhorns, the linebacker is credited with 26 total tackles. This season, Rodriguez leads the team in forced fumbles and solo, assisted and total tackles. Look to see if Rodriguez can close the gaps that Bijan Robinson looks to run through. The Texas offensive line needs to be on its toes against Rodriguez because the Wagoner, Oklahoma, native and seasoned Cowboy senior will try to shoot the gaps and tackle anyone wearing burnt orange and carrying pigskin.

… Longhorns get caught up in last week

In Week 6, Texas had Oklahoma on the ropes with a large lead before ultimately struggling in the second half to contain the Sooner offense and find its own momentum. With all the attention that the Red River Shootout produces, the Longhorns will have to quickly focus on how they can improve upon their performance while still looking to Oklahoma State. The season is far from over for a deeply talented Texas team as the Longhorns are still in control of their own destiny. Come December, Texas could find its way back to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship Game. If head coach Steve Sarkisian and team wish to make those realistic goals happen, Texas can’t make the same, sloppy mistakes it did last week and needs to come out on the gridiron swinging, making a clear and unified statement that the past is in the rearview mirror and the Longhorns are back in control.