Oklahoma State Football: What to Watch for Against Texas


The season more or less begins for real today as the Oklahoma State football team faces a Texas team that is suddenly seeming a little dangerous.

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The Cowboys have had an easy ride against inferior opponents so far this season, with some lackluster performances thrown out in certain facets of the game. Last week’s thrashing of UTSA provided some hope in a few areas however, and today will be a true test that actually shows if the Cowboys are for real or not, and if all the passive confidence from Mike Gundy the last few months is actually warranted.

There are plenty of storylines to watch out out for today in Austin, but these stick out the most:

Jerrod Heard

We’re all pretty aware of the buzz around this guy by now. After playing sparingly the first two games, Heard had a breakout game against Cal last week, surpassing the school record in total offensive yards with 527 yards, 163 of which came on the ground via 24 rushing attempts. Heard is also 11-14 on passes over 10 yards this season. He is a serviceable passer right now, but his true impact resides with his legs, scrambling on broken plays or simply running a draw, eluding defenders with ease up to this point at least. If you figure in his 10 rushing attempts against Rice, Heard is averaging 7.6 yards per carry on 34 attempts. Oklahoma State’s defense is far superior to Cal and Rice, and the biggest key to this game might be limiting Heard’s running room, forcing him to test a solid Cowboys secondary. Speaking of the secondary…

The Cowboy Secondary

Sep 19, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; UTSA Roadrunners wide receiver Aaron Grubb (88) tackled by Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Kevin Peterson (1) during the first half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are deep and fully healthy at this position, and have been above average in pass protection this season while also generating three interceptions. They’ve basically more or less managed to make some good quarterbacks look bad so far this year. Central Michigan’s Cooper Rush, who has threw for 758 yards in his past two games, was held to 225 by the Cowboys, and was largely ineffective. UTSA’s Blake Bogenschutz, who set the school record for passing yards against No. 16 Arizona, was taken out of the game against the Cowboys after throwing for 58 yards on 8-of-14 passing while also turning the ball over three times. If the Cowboys can corral Heard in the running game while sealing off routes and making quick tackles, it should be a successful day overall.

Chris Carson and the OSU Running Game

It’s safe to say that Chris Carson hasn’t really lived up to the lofty preseason praise he received, the latter being no fault of his own. The Cowboys as a whole have failed to dominate on the ground this season, and that’s against three bad teams. Sure, they all might’ve sold out to stop the run, but still. Fortunately for Mike Gundy, Texas is the worst rush defense the Cowboys have faced so far, as they rank 119th nationally. As we saw last week, Chris Carson and the OSU offensive line might have turned the corner a bit. If they can establish a presence on the ground against Texas, they’ll be able to keep Heard on the sidelines longer while opening the passing game up more. That will go a long way in ensuring a victory.

J.W. Walsh

The Walsh package has been pretty successful so far this season, especially in the red zone. Walsh has had a touchdown in every game this season, despite having just 17 total touches. Two of his seven pass attempts have gone for scores. It’s obvious that we haven’t really seen the full scope of the Walsh package yet, and with Texas’ inability to defend the run, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Walsh take a few more snaps in this game, even in OSU territory.

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