In the Not So Still of the Night...

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By Eric Nahlin, Inside Texas Recruiting Editor
Posted Sep 26, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

The most raucous Texas road game of recent vintage occurred on November 1, 2008, when the Texas Longhorns took their number one ranking into Lubbock on a day that was widely observed as Halloween. To borrow a term used in conjunction with the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State rivalry, it was bedlam.

 

This Saturday the Longhorns will head to Stillwater to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a scene that will be the exact opposite of the one described in the Five Satins song referenced in the title.

The differences in the Texas scheme and identity are night and day compared to the 2008 team, but the task of going on the road in front of an unruly crowd and a high powered offense means there are some similarities to what that great Longhorn team faced and what this one does. I don't expect Stillwater to be as amped as Lubbock, but it won't be far off and these things aren't measured by decibel meters anyway. They're measured by false starts, the quarterback's ability to audible and overall level of offensive comfort. Poor starts lead to being behind on the scoreboard and being placed in dire situations that can altogether alter gameplans.

A verteran Texas offense with leaders everywhere struggled mightily in Lubbock. I fear David Ash will as well, but there's one monumental difference between the two scenarios in question. Texas can run the ball now.

Running the ball effectively has proven to be Ash's best friend forever and he'll need that friend to come through in this game more so than any other the entire year. At the beginning of the season I said West Virginia was the lynchpin game. My reasoning for that was, I underestimated Gundy as an offensive coach, instead giving too much credit to the wealth of NFL talent he's had on his roster, rather than his ability to restock the shelves in place of departed players. I didn't think he'd have the horsepower in place or revving high this early in the season.

Similar to how Texas usually has defensive backs and tackles step up in the absence of graduated players, so to does Oklahoma State when it comes to offensive skill players.

If Gundy loses Zac Robinson, he replaces him with Brandon Weeden. Though some of you aren't big on the current state of OSU's quarterback position, I think they have two players, albeit youthful, capable of being the next big passer in Stillwater.

At running back, Kendall Hunter begat Joseph Randle, two player's that are eerily similar with their ability to run the ball outside with speed and inside with deceptive power.

The wide receivers in Stillwater have been well chronicled and in typical State fashion, they have a nice mixture of underneath reliability and over the top freak receivers. Blake Jackson, is a name you're very likely to cuss on Saturday night. Either that or whoever is charged with covering him.

While this Oklahoma State offense has written their resume against some unimpressive defenses, the Texas defense hasn't shown the qualifications we thought they had and they've yet to play an offense as potent as the one they'll face in just a few days.

That brings us back to Ash and the importance of his kennel of greyhounds and the offensive line they'll be running behind. Texas must assert itself early and control time of possession. If Texas is able to move the line of scrimmage as easily as Texas bettors move Vegas' line, Texas will win this game. If they don't, or if it's a push, this game becomes the toughest contest Texas will find itself in this season. Yes, I'm including West Virginia and the December road game in Manhatten against the Grinch into account.

I readily acknowledge Geno Smith is a far superior quarterback to J.W. Walsh. That's as obvious as Owen Wilson's broken nose. But, because of his ability to run - not just scramble and improvise - Walsh could provide Texas with the tougher match-up. I realize this was against a terrible football team, but take a gander at this offense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrgydYCXirU

If you watched that all the way through you'll realize that Walsh can run (you could tell that if he was trying to catch a bus - opponent is inconsequential), much better in fact than wide receiver-turned-quarterback Ryan Tannehill. This is good if Texas gets him out of the game, but bad if they don't get clean hits on him. Because of the spacing of their offense and their ability to attack all portions of the field, Walsh will have lanes to run through.

Another thing you may have noticed is how tight those windows were that he threw into. A tight window is a tight window, and if you're fitting into them it doesn't really matter who's covering the receiver. You probably saw Jackson, a kid that will likely give UT's inexperienced linebackers fits.

I make mention of the Longhorn linebackers because with Jordan Hicks likely out, they're very green and this is a tough match for them. Walsh is mobile, Jackson is athletic, and Joseph Randle is a do it all running back who along with being able to run inside and out, can also catch out of the backfield. That's a lot of firepower to account for, especially when you factor in how lost in space the 'backers have looked at times.

Gundy is a smart man, even if his own personal appearance is as disappointing as Guy Fieri's. He'll be able to attack Texas' weaknesses, and if Manny Diaz hasn't made strides in the past two weeks, Texas is in trouble.

If Texas gets into trouble, then David Ash has to challenge Oklahoma State's secondary. That's not something I'm sure would go UT's way.

I have this game too close to call and when looking at the schedule right now, it's the only one I wouldn't call a Texas win outright.

That tells you how improved Texas is. It should also tell you how tough a match up Oklahoma State is. Like in pugilism, styles make fights. They can also make games.

This isn't exactly Rocky going to Siberia - or the slightly different Lubbock for that matter - but this is going to be a tough business trip.

 

 

 

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