A pivotal matchup between Texas football and Oklahoma State this weekend involves wideout Tylan Wallace taking on cornerback Jalen Green.
The defense for the Texas football program produced mixed results in the secondary for the past two seasons under third-year defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Last season, it was facing opponents like the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners, and West Virginia Mountaineers that really torched the Texas defensive backfield.
This fall, the Texas Longhorns football program has another bevy of powerful pass offenses that they will have to deal with in and out of Big 12 play. The Longhorns already got a good taste of what could be to come for their pass defense in the 45-38 loss to the LSU Tigers.
The Texas pass defense gave up more than 470 passing yards and four scores to senior quarterback Joe Burrow, and the corners look overmatched the entire game. The LSU receiving corps also torched the Texas secondary through and through with three guys nabbing more than 115 yards each way.
But the defensive backfield responded in a big way in the Week 3 win over the Rice Owls. If legitimate confidence was generated from that 48-13 win over Rice last week, then it could mean something heading into this weekend’s Big 12 opener.
The big threat to the Longhorns secondary in Week 4 is the Oklahoma State star junior wide receiver Tylan Wallace. Through three weeks of play, Wallace has 390 receiving yards and a whopping six touchdowns. Wallace was a problem for the Texas defense to deal with against Oklahoma State last season (10 catches, 222 yards, 2 touchdowns).
Yet, the difference between facing Wallace in 2018 and 2019 is the amount of attention that falls on him. Head Texas football coach Tom Herman and Orlando will have to put plenty of focus on safety help over the top for Wallace. There will also be a different cornerback matchup this year compared to last.
Sophomore Jalen Green is likely to be assuming the duties that entail matching up against the elite wideout Wallace. That is a tall task, but he’s already faced a handful of talented wide receivers in two of the three games he’s played in this fall.
When facing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the season opener, Green allowed star wideout Adrian Hardy to nab just three catches for 38 yards. That was one of Hardy’s worst outings in the past two years.
This will also be the second straight year that the Texas safeties, namely sophomore Caden Sterns and senior Brandon Jones, will see Wallace lining up against them. This time around, Wallace is the primary focus.
What also helps the Longhorns focus on Wallace is the amount of plays that clearly target Wallace from redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders. The next leading receiver for the Pokes is senior Dillon Stoner, who has less than 100 yards on the season so far. Clearly Wallace is a crucial part of this offense.
All in all, Orlando has pulled it off before where he pretty much eliminates the top receiving threat from Oklahoma State. In the 2017 meeting between Texas and Oklahoma State, former star wideout James Washington (4 catches, 32 yards, 0 touchdowns) was almost shut down completely. He was the Biletnikoff Award winner that season.
Watch out for the Texas defense to regularly bring safety help immediately to Green’s aid to help out with covering Wallace. Two ultra-talented defensive backs like Green and Sterns or Jones will be massive in shutting down the Oklahoma State passing game to the best of this secondary’s ability.