Coming into this week’s matchup against Kansas, there were varying opinions as to how this game would play out. There were some who felt that Texas would blow out the Jayhawks, while several prognosticators were predicting a possible letdown, much like we’ve seen in the past in games at Lawrence, Kansas. What we got was somewhere right in the middle.
It was the hope of many that the playbook would expand this week for Tyrone Swoopes. While at first glance it may not have seemed as though the playbook opened up, I think that the case of the matter is that the youth of the offense is still just not ready to move forward too fast. Swoopes played well, but his inaccuracy on downfield passes, specifically overthrowing a wide-open Marcus Johnson, still shows that there is work to be done. The overwhelming positive about the QB position is that turnovers are not an issue. Swoopes accounted for all three TDs, but there is still room for improvement on passes beyond ten yards.
While the play of the runningbacks rely heavily on the offensive line, the fact remains that Texas’ two 5-star RBs are unable to consistently churn out even four yards per carry against sub-par opponents. The Longhorns offense relies on clock management and moving the ball consistently in order to win. Unfortunately for Texas, we haven’t seen that happen in the first four games of the season. The Longhorn RBs must do better than 3 ypc against Kansas.
As I mentioned in my Kansas Breakdown/Matchups, the Jayhawks have a very experienced secondary that has given up just above 200 passing ypg. For Texas to be successful, they needed to attack the underneath routes and the middle of the field. Texas did exactly that as both Harris and Shipley both grabbed 6 catches and over 80 yards a piece, with Harris hauling in one TD. Marcus Johnson also played well, as did A. Foreman in his limited role. Texas’ WRs did what was asked of them.
The Kansas is not the same awful putrid defense that many are accustomed to. The Jayhawks are full of experience on defense and tout an all-conference LB, Heeney, that has given teams in the past fits. Texas didn’t overpower Kansas on offense, and didn’t have great success running the football. They did, however, do a good job of keeping Swoopes from getting sacked (only giving up 2 for 9 yards), but the pocket closed quickly when quick routes weren’t called. The Texas OLine issues are well documented. From the gross inexperience to the suspensions and injuries of expected starters, the problems pile up. But with conference play beginning, it’s time to get rid of excuses.
While Kansas did rush for 173 yards, that only added up to 3.4 ypc. At times it seemed like Kansas was moving the ball at will on the ground, but the DLine stood their ground and the zero on the scoreboard showed. Malcom Brown wasn’t as active on the stat sheet as usual, but his presence allowed for the LBs and DEs to combine for 4 sacks against a quick-strike offense. The second half (namely 3rd quarter) defense needs to improve, but overall, this DLine didn’t disappoint.
Steve Edmond and Hicks played a strong game. Edmond was never beaten twice on a play and they contributed to keeping Kansas’ top threats on the ground (Cozart, Pierson) from creating plays. Two sacks, one interception, 3.4 ypc and zero points is pretty darn good from a position group.
The best group on the field was the Texas secondary. Kansas’ passing game is not a strength of their offense, but Diggs, Duke Thomas and company held Cozart and the rest of the Jayhawk air attack in check all day. Three interceptions from the secondary is more than you can ask for.
The special teams weren’t as bad as many think it was. Field goal kicking started off as bad as you can get, but Rose nailed a 42 yarder later that put more pressure on Kansas. The punting game is good, averaging 42.5 yards per punt against the Jayhawks, and the punt return was even better, as Shipley returned one 41 yards and had another long punt return called back by penalty. The field goal team needs to improve before it costs a game.