HookemHeadlines talks with PokesPost editor Kurt Freudenberger about Texas football and the next opponent – Oklahoma State.
Texas football opens Big 12 play this Saturday against Oklahoma State. We visit with PokesPost editor Kurt Freudenberger to learn more about the Cowboys. Follow Kurt on Twitter @K_Freudenberger
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It’s early, but which unit is the strength of this football team, the offense or defense?
I’d say right now it’s the defense, which is a very strange thing to say about a Mike Gundy-coached Oklahoma State team. Obviously, the last game against UTSA was much better offensively, but the defense has allowed four touchdowns over the first three games. They’ve been the most consistent part of this team, whether the turnovers are flowing or not; they do their job. There was a lot of buzz coming into this season that this unit could very well be the best in the Gundy era, and they’ve done everything to reinforce that notion so far, giving the offense some breathing room to figure things out and gel more.
How has the offense changed since these two schools played last?
The truth is, not much. Their matchup last year was when the OSU offense hit rock bottom totaling 192 yards with Daxx Garman behind center, in what would be his last game due to an injury. Mason Rudolph made the start on the road the next week at Baylor, and they haven’t looked back since. Rudolph had the benefit of some offensive lineman coming back from injuries at Baylor, as well. Overall, the personnel is pretty much the same as last season, along with the play calling, it’s just better with Rudolph at quarterback and an offensive line that won’t be giving up the 40+ sacks it did last year. It’s been a balanced attack so far in 2015, although there are plenty of Cowboy fans wanting to see more passing, which will probably happen on Saturday — the offense has been pretty vanilla so far, with good reason.
The defense created seven turnovers last week. Is it safe to draw comparisons to the 2011 defense that was among the best in forcing turnovers? Oklahoma State won the Big 12 title that year.
Last week was kind of a fluke in the sense that you aren’t going to see a Big 12 team force seven turnovers the rest of the season. Still, the Cowboys did their part on most of them, whether it was stepping in front of a route or jarring the ball loose with a helmet hit to the ball. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will be the first to tell you that sometimes turnovers just kind of happen. Still, he had made it known that he was very unsatisfied with the Cowboys’ one forced turnover prior to the UTSA game. As far as 2011 goes, there were some bonafide stars on that team, so that made it a little easier for them to generate so many turnovers. Spencer was actually the linebackers coach then, but he was always the main preacher on the importance of actively stripping the ball and playing coy on reads. Time will tell if they can get anywhere close to the 2011 total of 44 turnovers. They have a chance.
Jerrod Heard’s best asset at the moment is his scrambling ability. How will OSU try to slow him down?
The Cowboys have been pretty successful defending passing game this season, and they are getting players in the backfield with regularity. Overall, their defense is very fast and well-equipped to handle a running quarterback. I’m sure that Glenn Spencer will bring the pressure often on Heard, limiting his running room while forcing him to make some quick throws, putting a lot of the responsibility on the secondary to get to the receivers in time after a short catch.
Who is an under-the-radar player on defense that can be a disruptive force?
Vincent Taylor gets overlooked a lot because of being on the same team as Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean. He’s a perfect compliment to them at defensive tackle, and benefits from the increased attention they get. This is his second season and he’s obviously very settled in and comfortable now, and has 4.5 tackles for loss on the season.
Tell us about Chris Carson. Is he a speed guy, or a power back? How should Texas try to stop him?
He’s kind of hard to classify. Carson is very athletic, but hasn’t really gotten a chance to show it yet, aside from hurdling a defender for basically no reason (https://twitter.com/TheGreat_Nate/status/643135951229857794). He’s probably more of a power runner as opposed to Rennie Childs and Jeff Carr behind him. His running style has been compared to Adrian Peterson’s on more than one occasion, although he’s obviously not anywhere near Peterson on the talent level. The best way to stop him is probably just to not give him any room to run by overpowering the Cowboys’ offensive line. It’s been done plenty of times already this season by teams with far more inferior athletes than the ones in Austin, so a big game from him would come as a surprise to me.
Thanks to Kurt for answering our questions.