As the midway point of the 2021 season emerges, the Texas Longhorns will head back to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl to face Big 12 rival Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown.
Texas will be starting fresh with new head coach Steve Sarkisian on offense. Last season with Alabama, his offense was one of the most dominant in NCAA history. The Crimson Tide ranked second in scoring (48.5 ppg), second in yards per play (7.81) and fourth in total offensive production (541.6).
Right below the defending national champion? Oklahoma, who finished just outside the top 10 in scoring offense and yards per play.
The Sooners return several marquee names on both sides of the ball, but have the star himself under center. Quarterback play could decide who takes home the Big 12 title, and OU has the man they think can be the best since Lincoln Riley was named the head coach.
Every quarterback though needs a supporting cast, and Oklahoma could be one of the best in the conference this fall. Who are some names that could be stars on the rise?
Make sure to stick with Longhorns Country throughout our season preview series, where we will analyze every opponent on the Longhorns schedule in 2021.
QB Spencer Rattler
Rattler is not only vying for the title of top QB of the 2021 season, but also the next Sooner to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. The expectations are high following a breakout second half in 2020.
Rattler led the conference in passing yards (3,031), touchdowns (28), completion rating (67.5) and passer efficiency (172.6) on his way to a Cotton Bowl victory. Outside of two early struggles, Rattler dominated opponents and carried the Sooners offense in more ways than one.
With three of the five offensive linemen returning, the 6-foot-1 gunslinger has all the intangibles to be Riley's top quarterback in four years with the team. With an arm like Baker Mayfield, the speed of Kyler Murray, and the physicalness of Jalen Hurts, Rattler is the finished product in Norman, and perhaps the biggest name in college football.
RB Kennedy Brooks
Brooks elected to opt-out last season due to COVID-19. Now back in the building, he'll be looking to build off his OU start of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
An elusive runner with north to south style of running, Brooks does his best between the trenches and making defenders miss at the line of scrimmage. Don't let his burly frame fool though since he can cut back to the outside and use his speed to win in a foot race.
There's a chance Riley elects to run more of a two-back system with the addition of Eric Gray from Tennessee, but Brooks will be the lead back. In a full 12-game season, a third 1,000-plus season isn't far-fetched.
Texas Cruises 70-35 Over Texas Tech In Big 12 Opener
The Texas Longhorns got off to a hot start in their Big 12 opener on Saturday
Around The Big 12: Longhorns Country's Week 4 Picks
Here are Longhorn Country's picks of the weekend from some of the biggest college football games
WR Marvin Mims
Mims might not be a Hollywood Brown or a CeeDee Lamb yet, but he showed growth as the new No. 1 last season. The freshman finished his first season with 37 catches for 610 yards and nine touchdowns. He also recorded two 100-plus receiving yard games.
There's a quality 1-2 combination with Mims and Theo Wease leading the pack. One will act as more a possenional target while the other is a vertical option to take the tops off defenses. After averaging 16.5 yards per catch last fall, Mims certainly is looking like the home run threat.
TE Austin Stogner
The tight end position has favored Oklahoma in recent years with names like Mark Andrews becoming superstars. Stogner might not be at that level, but he could be the second-best tight end in the conference for 2021.
The 6-foot-6 target recorded 26 catches for 422 yards and three touchdowns but surprised the staff with a 16.2 YPC. In the air raid offense, he offers little as a blocker but excels as a pass-catcher against smaller cornerbacks. Add in his physical style and there's little he can't do.
OT Wanya Morris Jr.
A new name on the roster, Morris will be tasked to play the left tackle position this fall. It shouldn't be a concern since he started five games at the position for Tennessee in 2020.
One of the top offensive line recruits of the 2019 class, Morris made an immediate impact at Tennessee, playing in 22 games and starting in 19. After taking on SEC defenders for years, a transition to a more pass-heavy offense might allow him to become one of the best overall tackle prospects before the 2022 draft.
CONTINUE READING: Texas Recruiting Tracker: Longhorns Offer 2023 DB Tay'Shawn Wilson
What do you think of the Longhorns' matchup with Oklahoma? Comment and join in on the discussion below!
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Longhorns? Sign up for your premium membership to LonghornsCountry.com today, and get access to the entire Fan Nation premium network!