No, this isn't a link to an as yet undiscovered 2009 calendar for our female readers. It is a call to our defensive backs that, if the Horns are to hang on to the precious #1 ranking, they are ALL going to have to step up and be men.
Why the DB's in particular?
Because of how Oklahoma State runs their offense.
I broke down the OSU-Missouri game tape to get an idea about the X's and O's involved in slowing down the Cowpokes (details after the jump). Bottom line: OSU likes to find the single coverage matchups and throw the ball high so that their tall, athletic receivers can outjump or shield off the DB's and thus outplay them for the ball. A large fraction of OSU's touchdown passes in the red zone and passes for first downs on third and long are of this nature. If the Horns want to stop the Cowboys, they are going to have toi find a way to go up and play the ball. That means you Deon Beasley. And you too, Ryan Palmer and Earl Thomas. If there is a weakness in the Texas secondary right now, it's playing the ball effectively in the air, and if the DB's don't step up and work on finding the ball in the air and being absolutely determined to get it, the game will be a shootout for sure.
OSU likes to run, as we've all read. They like to run so much that they are in 1 or 2 TE formations with one RB (11 or 21 personnel for you jargonmeisters) more than half the time on second and third downs even with more than 5 yards to go. Even with 2 TE, two WR's are often split wide on the same side of the field, which puts 3 potential receivers in pattern in a small area of the field, which can create confusion and most importantly, single coverage on one of the two WR's. Mike Gundy and his offensive coordinator do a great job of making sure that the receiver getting single coverage is Dez Bryant.
The reliance on TE dominated formations means Texas will have to have a 4-3 defense on the field most of the time to control the run. The 4-2-5 that the Horns used so successfully in the second half against OU and nearly all game against Missouri is unlikely to be the most effective defense against OSU. A 4-3 defense puts 3 DB's on 3 WR's plus a safety to help the LB covering the TE. Because of the threat of the run and the need for the LB's to read run first and then drop into coverage, one of the OSU wide receivers is single covered on almost every play.
What all this means is that Zac Robinson can just trhrow the ball up and let the receivers outplay the usually smaller DB's for the ball.
What the Horns must do.
Jam the OSU receivers to buy more time for the pass rush to disrupt throws. This could be tough on Dez Bryant because he often lines up back from the line of scrimmage and is too quick and too strong to jam easily. However, it's a strategy that might take the rail-thin Davis (6-5, 185) out of the equation and free up a saftety to help over the top of Bryant
The DB's must look for the ball - just being in front of the receiver won't stop Robinson from making the throw. They have to want the ball. They have to think of the victory being at stake on every throw, because it just might be.