Strong also hired away from Gundy the last original member of his staff in Joe Wickline. To save Texas the 3.6 million dimes they would owe Oklahoma State for Wickline leaving his contract in Stillwater for a job not considered a promotion, Strong named Wickline his offensive coordinator, meaning indirectly and directly Oklahoma State and Gundy helped develop the Longhorns coordinators.
While that is interesting, it will be players and not coaches that will decide the meeting between the two team in Stillwater on Nov. 15. Remember from out previous parts of this series, the Cowboys are strong on the defensive line, have depth issues at linebacker, and are very young but talented in the secondary.
On offense, the line is a question depending on the rehab of a couple of players and development of some younger players. Running back and wide receiver is solid and could be much better, even spectacular if key players like Jhajuan Seales, Austin Hays, Marcell Ateman, Tyreek Hill, and Desmond Roland play as well or better than expected.
J.W. Walsh brings a veteran presence to the quarterback position and he needs to play the way he knows he can and to his strengths.
For Texas let's start at quarterback where after missing a big chunk of the spring and never truly getting the Longhorns to the promised land, David Ash is still trying to prove himself. Tyrone Swoopes had an opening but did not barge through the door. Quarterback is still a question at Texas.
Running back is not a concern with the trio of Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, and Joe Bergeron set to crowd the depth chart. All three can play but all three could play better if the passing game could better compliment and take some pressure off the run attack.
Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson, and one time Oklahoma State commitment Kendall Sanders along with tight end Geoff Swaim are the receivers. They are good, and could be really good. Again, that depends on the quarterback.
Defenses can still crowd the box and if they have some decent corners then dare the Longhorns to throw. OSU has done it before and will likely do it again. It also helps that in the spring game the Texas offensive line looked pedestrian.
A lot of this story is based off that spring game as it was more than your normal spring game. With the Longhorn Network and a big crowd that was a chance for new coach Charlie Strong to impress the UT fans. He didn't need trickery, didn't need to show too much of the playbook, but just show some good solid fundamental football. Dominic Espinosa is the best of the offensive line as a senior returning starter at center.
If they played today, the Longhorns would have some success on OSU, but they would not control the game with their offense. Honestly, which young players and key players develop and play the best next season heading into November will be the key to this matchup.
On defense, Texas is really solid up front and if they stay healthy they could be fantastic at linebacker with Jordan Hicks back, Steve Edmond in the middle and Peter Jinkens on the outside. The key is Hicks, who has been often injured. He is a really gifted defensive player with speed and playmaking ability.
OSU will have to work to control the ball up front and to have the ability to run the ball on Texas. The opening for the Cowboys and Walsh is to take advantage of a somewhat undistinguished starting four in the secondary. Quandre Diggs give the Longhorns a solid corner, but the other three starters range from unknown to mediocre so far in their college careers.
I see the match-up of the Cowboys receivers against the Longhorns secondary being in favor of the Cowboys. This might be the determining factor in the football game, if it were played today or when it is played.
Special teams do favor Texas in the kicking game with Nick Rose returning as kicker. However, we have yet to see Tyreek Hill and he will be joined by some other talented possible answers in the return game.
It's not a huge edge, but the game would be fairly even. It will be played in Stillwater and in the battle of young and less experienced talent versus a team full of players that have in many cases underachieved, I'll go with the young talent. Remember too, OSU is to a point where the Cowboys don't take it for granted, but they expect to beat Texas.