Texas Football: 3 majors concerns for Longhorns vs. OU in Red River

Steve Sarkisian, Brent Venables, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Brent Venables, Texas football /
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Ryan Watts, Texas football
Ryan Watts, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

In the final iteration of the Red River Rivalry game between head coach Steve Sarkisian and No. 3 Texas football and the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners as Big 12 foes, the former looks have the edge regarding depth and talent in this matchup. Texas has a decisive edge in this game against Oklahoma regarding talent, which isn’t usual in this rivalry over the past decade.

Texas and Oklahoma are undefeated heading into Red River for the first time since 2011. And the Longhorns are ranked in the top three in the AP Poll heading into Red River for the first time since 2009.

The winner of Red River this year not only puts itself in prime position to win the Big 12 regular season title but it also will be favored to make the College Football Playoff.

Biggest concerns for Texas football heading into Red River vs. OU in Week 6

A win for Texas would secure the Longhorns’ third victory this season over an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25. The Longhorns have also defeated the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks and No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide this season.

A win for the Sooners would legitimize Oklahoma as a national contender this fall. Oklahoma has handily defeated most teams it’s faced this season. But the Sooners have one of the easiest schedules in the Big 12 this year. Beating Texas would calm some of the doubt regarding OU’s legitimacy this season.

Here are three major concerns for the Longhorns in Red River against Oklahoma this weekend.

Boundary corner and safety play

The group with the most uncertainty of any level of the Texas defense heading into Red River this weekend is the secondary. Texas could be short redshirt junior boundary corner Ryan Watts, who is dealing with a lower-body injury he suffered in the 40-14 win over the Kansas Jayhawks last weekend. Watts is questionable heading into the Oklahoma game.

If Watts is out this weekend, expect to see a lot of true freshman Malik Muhammad and sophomore Terrance Brooks at the boundary spot. Texas also has the depth and versatility in the secondary to rotate other guys to boundary corner, including senior nickel Jahdae Barron and sophomore Austin Jordan.

The safeties haven’t been great for the Longhorns in pass coverage either this season. Senior field safety Jerrin Thompson was burned over the top a couple of times, and fellow senior safety Kitan Crawford is still getting lost in coverage downfield.

The Sooners have one skill player who worries me with his ability to make big plays on the boundary: redshirt freshman receiver Nic Anderson. The second-year wideout Anderson leads the Big 12 in receiving grade and touchdown catches this season.

Oklahoma is top three in the Big 12 in deep passing yards this season. Most of Oklahoma’s production in the deep passing game came against G5 defensive lines. But the combination of Oklahoma’s most efficient wideout this season playing the same spot (on the boundary) that Texas has dealt with injury issues with Watts and problems covering the deep ball could be problematic in Red River.