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Oklahoma State @ Texas: Diving into the Longhorn defense

Is this Texas defense the real deal? We take a close look at their strengths and weaknesses.

NCAA Football: Texas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas defense has been keeping the team in games as of late. As the Pokes get ready to head into Austin, let’s take a look at what the Horns are doing well, and what the Cowboys might be able to exploit.

With the exception of the loss to Maryland, Texas’ defense has looked good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say great, but after the Texas defenses that I’ve been watching since 2010, they look much improved.

First off, Malik Jefferson is an animal. He’s an incredible athlete that’s been a difference maker for this defense. He become the 5-star recruit Texas needed when they picked him up.

On this play, you can tell that Jefferson (No. 46) has his eye on Anderson before the ball is even snapped. He stays with him the entire time, and makes the tackle for no gain. He knows where the ball is going.

If Jefferson can stay with Justice Hill and J.D. King, Oklahoma State could have a hard time establishing a run game.

Even in crunch time, the Longhorn defense was solid.

And now for your viewing pleasure, please enjoy this video of Baker Mayfield getting sacked.

This isn’t just Jefferson, though. While Mayfield is able to extend the play, watch the defense keep their eyes on him while staying disciplined. I think Mason is gonna have to really watch for Jefferson and where he is all day long. He’s gonna have to think quickly because Jefferson is fast, and has become a smart football player.

Now for the fun part... One area of the Texas defense that I think the Pokes could exploit is cornerback Kris Boyd. As mentioned on Monday’s podcast, he has the propensity to lose his mind and get burnt. That spells Mason Rudolph to James Washington all day.

Another example, Mayfield gets a short route to his receiver for a first down. You know who likes intermediate routes? James Washington.

Overall, Texas just isn’t good at defending the play action. Mayfield had time to make whatever throw he wanted. Now, Oklahoma State’s O-Line isn’t outstanding but if Rudolph has time, he can make those same plays. Texas has a tendency to give up the big play, and it killed them in this game.

On this play, the backfield gets confused allowing Andrews to score the game winning touchdown.

Another guy on this Texas defense that’s worth noting is Malcom Roach. He’s a big dude that can make a tackle. Watch this play:

Roach sees the ball carrier drop back and doesn’t fall for it. Roach, among others, are on it and they stifle the play. Another guy to watch in this play is Poona Ford (No.95). He didn’t get credit for the tackle but the work he does inside makes this play possible.

Texas has gotten significantly better at defending the run after that Maryland game. However, they struggled when OU was able to switch it on them. I think that while this Texas defense is certainly much improved, their inability to defend the deep ball has killed them. They’re gonna have to get in Mason’s face if they want to win.