As everyone predicted after Texas fell to Maryland to open the season, the Longhorns are one win away from playing in the Big 12 championship. The only obstacle in their way is a Kansas team that will be playing under David Beaty for the final time. The Jayhawks enter with a 3-8 record, but have held their own in pretty much every game this season. This game means absolutely nothing for Kansas and everything for Texas, so the Longhorns can not afford to come out flat or they may be in for a bumpy 60-minute ride. Let’s take a look at the Kansas offense:
Last year, Kansas spent much of the season rotating between Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley, with neither quarterback separating himself from the other. This season, David Beaty has stuck with Bender as his starter and the results have been decent. The senior has thrown 12 touchdowns compared to just 2 interceptions, but has also completed only 57% of his passes and is not much of a threat to run.
Bender started his career at Washington State under Mike Leach before transferring to Itawamba Community College. With the threat of the quarterback run off the table, Todd Orlando and his group will have the luxury of trying to dial up pressures to make Bender uncomfortable in the pocket.
The talk of the Big 12 is freshman RB Pooka Williams Jr., who ran for 252 yards on 15 carries last Saturday in Norman against Oklahoma. Williams is a threat to take it the distance anytime he touches the ball, and the New Orleans native has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season (1,022).
Junior Khalil Herbert is the other running back the Jayhawks will use, and the 210-pounder is built more to get tough yards between the tackles and near the goal line.
Kansas loves to use their running backs as receivers. David Beaty is probably in the film room right now trying to figure out how to get Williams matched up on Anthony Wheeler or any other linebacker.
Senior Steven Sims Jr. serves as the No. 1 receiver and he is no stranger to success against the Longhorns. In 2016, Sims hauled in 7 passes for 79 yards in the Jayhawks victory over Texas. He is another speedster who Kansas will try to get the ball to in space. Davante Davis and Kris Boyd have been susceptible to the double move, and Sims is the ideal candidate to use in those situations.
Jeremiah Booker is the Jayhawks No. 2 option in the passing game. Booker stands at 6’2 and will be utilized more as a possession receiver with the ability to gain leverage on defensive backs down the field. Outside of Sims and Bender, there is not another notable player in the Jayhawks passing attack.
If the Texas defensive line gives similar effort and plays like they did against Iowa State, it will be a fun day for Charles Omenihu, Breckyn Hager and Co. Kansas protects their shoddy offensive line play by getting the ball out quick. Todd Orlando brought extra men against Cyclones whenever he could, and made Brock Purdy look like a freshman for the first time this season. He would be wise to deploy a similar strategy against the Kansas offensive line and Bender.
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