The Longhorns (4-5, 3-3) will welcome Kansas (1-8, 0-6) to Austin on Saturday. Texas will be looking to revenge a shocking 24-21 loss to Kansas in 2016. Kansas is coming off a 38-9 loss to a Baylor team that was previously winless. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Kansas offense:
Throughout fall camp, sophomore Carter Stanley and junior transfer Peyton Bender competed for the starting quarterback job. Bender started the first game of the season against Southeast Missouri State, the only win for the Jayhawks on the year. In the games following, Bender’s play regressed and he was eventually replaced by Stanley, who has started the last two games against TCU and Baylor. Stanley has thrown for 717 yards, with one touchdown and 3 interceptions. During his media availability on Tuesday, Beaty said that Stanley was nursing an undisclosed injury and is questionable for Saturday’s game.
If Stanley is unable to play, Kansas will be forced to hand the reigns back to Bender. Bender has thrown for 1437 yards, with 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Doug Meacham is in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Jayhawks, and has found it tough to move the football without the weapons he had at his disposal at his previous stop, TCU. Regardless of who lines up behind center for Kansas, Texas will have a decisive advantage when the Jayhawks throw the ball.
With the Jayhawks averaging 49 passes per game and falling behind early in almost every game, the running game has struggled. Primary running back Khalil Herbert had a monster performance against West Virginia, gaining 291 yards on the ground on 39 carries, but has otherwise only surpassed the 100-yard mark in one other game. Herbert has rushed for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year. Backup Taylor Martin has added 197 yards and 3 touchdowns.
As a team, Kansas is only averaging 3.5 yards per rush. To better put that in perspective, Texas is also averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Jayhawks will live and die by the passing game. The Longhorns should be able to contain Herbert and force the quarterback to beat them.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The one player on the Kansas offense that Texas can not let beat them is Steven Sims Jr. The junior leads the Jayhawks in receiving with 679 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is averaging over 17 yards per reception and will serve as the primary big play threat. Junior Jeremiah Booker will serve as the number two option. Booker has hauled in 21 passes for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns. Junior Ryan Schlader will also hear his name called on offense as well as on kickoff returns. Schlader has caught 18 passes for 146 yards.
Kansas has the luxury of utilizing a very good tight end in Ben Johnson. The senior was an honorable mention All-Big 12 member a season ago and is currently the second leading receiver on the team. Johnson has hauled in 25 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown. He also serves a quality blocker and will present some matchup problems for Texas linebackers.
Kansas starts an extremely young offensive line. 4 out of 5 starters are underclassmen. Senior right tackle Zach Hannon was a graduate transfer from Nebraska who was receiving the first significant snaps of his collegiate career this season. Hannon missed last week’s game against Baylor with an injury and David Beaty said he is questionable for Saturday’s game. Sophomore left tackle Hakeem Adeniji may be the most talented offensive lineman on the Jayhawks roster. Adeniji started all 12 games in 2016 as a freshman and was honorable mention All-Big 12. Chris Hughes and Andru Tovi will man the two guard positions. Hughes is a redshirt freshman who is in his first year as a starter. Tovi is a junior college transfer who hails from Hawaii. The offensive line is rounded out by sophomore Mesa Ribordy.
The offensive line has allowed 21 sacks on the season and has not paved many holes in the running game. The Texas defensive line is coming off another impressive performance and should have no problems getting into the backfield against a young and inexperienced offensive line.
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