No. 7 Texas football will be tested this weekend against the BYU Cougars and head coach Kalani Sitake without redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers. After Ewers suffered a shoulder injury in Texas’ narrow win over the Houston Cougars on the road last weekend, redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy will get the start at home in Week 9 against BYU.
In the first start of his collegiate career, Murphy will look to get the Longhorns their second win in a row. Murphy has many weapons at the skill positions that can ease the load on him in his first start for the Texas offense this weekend against BYU.
With Murphy set to get his first career start this weekend against BYU, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian will want to get him some easy completions early in the game to get him comfortable in the offense. Expect to see many first-read passes in the short passing game and some deep shots to take advantage of Murphy’s impressive deep ball.
Texas football WR Johntay Cook II could breakout vs. BYU with Maalik Murphy starting at QB
Among the weapons that Murphy has found the most chemistry with this year is the talented true freshman wide receiver Johntay Cook II. In the spring game back in April, Murphy connected with Cook on a beautiful deep ball for a 79-yard score.
That was one of the biggest highlights from the Orange-White Game for the Longhorns.
Cook is a future star for Texas at WR
Cook is a dynamic weapon that threatens opposing defenses at multiple levels of the field. He’s got the speed and elusiveness in the open field to make defenders miss when he gets the ball in space in the short and screen passing game. That same burner speed lets Cook get over the top on opposing DBs in the deep passing game.
Yet, despite all the talent he brings as a former five-star recruit out of DeSoto High School, Cook’s reps were limited in live-game action in the first half of the season. He’s looked good when targeted in the passing game in the first seven games of the season.
Cook has only been targeted six times this season, resulting in four catches for 103 receiving yards (25.8 yards per catch). When Cook was targeted this season, good things happened, with big gains on each reception.
Sark has expressed regret recently that he hasn’t gotten Cook more touches in live-game action on offense this season. In a press conference following the loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 7, Sark said he was “kicking himself” for not playing Cook more. Cook was only on the field for a couple of offensive snaps in Red River, and he wasn’t targeted in the passing game on any of them.
Cook’s skill set fits in well with Texas’ expected offensive gameplan in Week 9
Given Cook’s ability to threaten opposing defenses with his ability after the catch and to get over the top in the deep passing game, he is a good wideout for Murphy to target against BYU this weekend. Cook can be a weapon that can make defenders miss in the screen game and out in the flats in the short passing game.
It would be another wrinkle in Sark’s offensive gameplan to get Cook involved in the passing game with some easy screens and underneath routes. Sark could also show off the deep ball connection between Murphy and Cook on the 79-yard touchdown pass in the spring game.
Cook is steadily “earning the trust of the coaches” this fall
Cook has impressed the coaches and his teammates with the consistency and maturity he’s shown in practice this fall, which recently earned him praise from Sark.
"“He’s earning the trust of the coaches. He’s earning the trust of the quarterback that he can be a guy that can go out there and function and play good football for us.”"
Cook’s strong showings in practice this fall could finally earn him the live-game reps he needs to have that breakout performance this weekend against BYU. CJ Vogel of TFB Texas did mention in a report on Oct. 27 before the BYU game that he expects more reps for Cook this weekend.
Texas (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) will battle BYU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin on Oct. 28 at 2:30 p.m. CT.