Texas Defensive Preview: Breaking Down the Barriers

These boys mean business. Poor Trevone Boykin had no idea what hit him. - Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This ain't the same Longhorns from two months ago. These guys know how to play ball and the Cowboys are facing their biggest challenge this season.

This is huge.

Big 12 title implications.

Season changing outcomes.

Revenge of the fumble. You know, this one:

(via pistolsguy)

It all culminates into one enormous game in Austin.

Oklahoma State, after throttling Kansas, rolls into Longhorn territory to start the most challenging segment of its schedule. The winner of Saturday's game could very well become the Big 12 Champion, and the Cowboys are hoping it's going to be them.

Texas is by no means a pushover. What was once a fiery mess of Mack Brown's career in a dumpster extinguished itself with a blowout win over rival Oklahoma. From there, what emerged was the Big 12 front-runner, and OSU head coach Mike Gundy made no effort in his Monday presser to hide how formidable an opponent the Longhorns are.

"Texas is as good as anybody in this league and arguably the best team in this league up front on both sides of the ball," Gundy said. "They cause a lot of issues in their ability to rush the passer."

Pretty good assessment there, Coach.

The Longhorns give up an average of only 21.8 points per game and have the second best total defense in the conference, allowing 94 out of 181 passes with six interceptions this season. A pair of defensive ends, Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat, are the two threats Clint Chelf will need to be wary of. The two each have combined for 14 sacks so far this season and also lead the team in tackles for a loss, averaging 11.5 and 12 respectively. Oh, and Texas as a team is leading the conference in sacks as well.

The Cowboys have caught a break, however, with DT Chris Whaley being declared out for the season due to injury.

In all, Texas, per the usual Texas status quo, has a strong line up front. The Longhorns are second in the Big 12 in rushing defense and allow an average of only 3.2 yards per carry. So unless the run game of Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs is on point, the Cowboys will be looking to win this one through the air.

The good news for the Pokes is that they have the number two scoring offense in the conference, even with Chelf's completion rate of 50.7%, but it looks like he might be without Josh Stewart as one of his big play targets. Based on what we've heard, look for David Glidden to be taking over most of the inside receiver and punt return duties for the Cowboys, but Chelf will still have his favorite target, Tracy Moore.

If the Cowboy offensive line can hold tight and allows Chelf to find a rhythm (and an open receiver or two), Oklahoma State will emerge from Austin victorious. Just don't expect to have any fingernails afterward.

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