The Longhorns are the first of three Oklahoma State opponents that come into a game with the Cowboys holding the advantage of an extra week of practice. TCU has the same scenario in November. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both have an open week before Bedlam on Dec. 3 in Norman.
Texas is 2-1 with a diminishing win over what was 10th-ranked Notre Dame but is now a 1-3 Irish wreck. Texas is fresh off a 50-43 loss to Cal and the loss shook the foundations of the Longhorn defense and possibly the relationship between head coach Charlie Strong and his longtime defensive partner at Florida (secondary coach) and Louisville (defensive coordinator) Vance Bedford. Bedford has an OSU pedigree having been Gundy's first defensive coordinator. He is also a former Longhorns standout as a player.
Amid rumors that Strong was replacing or at least taking over some responsibilities from Bedford, Strong hinted that the changes were perhaps in personnel and maybe a little in scheme. Texas gave up 111 rushing yards, 396 passing yards, and a total of 507 yards with an average of 6.3 yards a snap in the Cal loss.
Now, prior to the Oklahoma State game there is no depth chart being released by Texas. Rumors have sophomore linebacker Brecklyn Hager and freshman Brandon Jones among other younger players getting more time. There's no telling exactly how Texas has adjusted until Saturday but Strong made it clear that it was a major part of the extra week Texas had to prepare for the Cowboys.
"We also did a lot of just self-evaluation, and we know we've had our issues on defense, and I have a lot of confidence in Vance Bedford, and I know Vance is going to do a good job, and we had a lot of time to sit by and just go look at the games that we've played this season and just how much better we could have been," Strong said in his Monday news conference.
"And I said to him, it's just three errors. We've got to get better fundamentally. That's got to happen. We've got to learn our concepts. Our players have just got to understand just the overall scheme and what we're really doing and what we're trying to accomplish. Instead of guys just lining up just to go play, and then we've just got to devise a game plan where we can be successful and we don't give up the plays and we don't just turn guys loose.
"I told them, I can live with a guy playing hard, if he makes a mistake then I'll take the hit on that with the mistake, because as long as they play hard and they play with a lot of energy, and it hasn't been where we haven't played hard, we just haven't played very smart, and that's where we've got to -- that's where I talk about just concepts, where they understand and just totally be prepared. We've got to have our players prepared. It's on the coaches. We've got to do a better job. It's on us. We should have a better product."
On the offensive side of the ball the Longhorns do have a better product as freshman quarterback Shane Buechele has been as good as imagined. He is a freshman and will make some mistakes, but they have been few and far between so far. He has the respect of his teammates and you can see that.
The 18-wheeler package quarterback is Tyrone Swoopes and that has been very successful as well. The receivers are good, not great. The offensive line is similar but will be missing captain and most experienced senior starting guard Kent Perkins because of a DWI arrest during the open weekend. The running backs are big, fast and angry in D'Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III. Foreman is 6-1, 249 pounds and Warren is 6-2, 253 pounds.
It is the Baylor offense now appearing in Texas orange and that could help the Cowboys some as they have now seen it two weeks in a row. But it is different personnel and Texas had a chance to see the Cowboys defense against the similar looks and no doubt learned some things that could help them.