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Texas Longhorns Football

Game Preview: Kansas Jayhawks @ #15 Texas Longhorns

Photo: Jay Biggerstaff - USA TODAY Sports

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The Texas Longhorns (4-2, 2-1) took one on the chin last week against rival Oklahoma in their first conference loss, but the Longhorns have no time to mull it over as Big 12 play picks back up on Saturday. The Kansas Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3) and new head coach Les Miles head to Austin on Saturday in search of their first conference win after a bye last week.

Texas head coach Tom Herman was left scratching his head after a 34-27 loss to the Sooners at the Cotton Bowl, but Herman sees the mistakes of a struggling Texas defensive unit as “fixable,” he told reporters on Monday. Through six games in the regular season the Longhorns, statistically speaking, are the worst in the program’s history.  Missed tackles and more injuries plagued Todd Orlando’s defense, but Herman says the key is for his players to continue to improve and develop, and play uninhibited. “We’ve got to be able to get those guys playing fast and not thinking, and the only way to do that is if they’re 100% sure in everything that they’re doing. If that means limiting what we call, then so be it, but we’ve got to play fast and aggressive.”

Saturday’s kickoff comes at 6:00 PM with the game being shown exclusively on Longhorn Network.

What: Texas Longhorns (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3 Big-12)
When: Saturday, October 19, 2019
Time:  6:00 PM CST
Venue: Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
Television: Longhorn Network
The Line: Texas -23

Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Texas defeated Kansas 24-17 (November 23, 20-18, Lawrence, KS)
All-Time Series Record: Texas leads Kansas 15-3

The Coaches

Kansas Jayhawks

Head Coach:  Les Miles
Head Coaching Experience: 17th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Kansas:  1
Career Record:  144-59
Career Record at Kansas:  2-4

Texas Longhorns

Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  3
Career Record:  43-16
Career Record at Texas:  21-12

Back to Basics

Offense

Tim Beck’s offense is a capable one, despite last week’s performance in Dallas. While there’s no justifying the Longhorns’ lack of offensive productivity, it was glaring that Oklahoma’s defense came ready to play. We aren’t rehashing Oklahoma here, but play-calling and the lack of the adjustments were significant contributors in the loss to the Sooners. The coaches know it and took full responsibility for it. As for the players, the Texas offensive line must establish themselves as the foundation of the offense. Through five games of the season they played like one of the strongest components of the team. Through six games and nine more sacks, they looked like one of the weakest links. Sam Ehlinger, his wide receiver corps and the running backs have proven they will do their jobs if they have time, and it’s up to Zach Shackelford and his guys to ensure that time is the offense’s friend. Getting back to basics in stance, angles, blocking and all-around confidence will help this unit reestablish their identity and purpose.

Defense

Despite giving up 276 yards on the ground to Oklahoma, the Texas rush defense has held their own through the season. They currently rank 54th nationally and allow 143 yards per contest. Kansas will look to get sophomore tailback Pooka Williams to work early on Saturday. Williams has broken the 100-yard plateau twice this season, and missed a third by rushing for 99 yards against Coastal Carolina in his first game this season. In his last contest against Oklahoma he gouged Alex Grinch’s defense for 137 yards. He ran for 103 yards and a touchdown against Texas last season in Lawrence, his first as a Jayhawk. The defensive front for Todd Orlando needs to control the line of scrimmage and hold Williams off the edges before he makes a big plays.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley is making his third consecutive start against the Longhorns. The senior performs better in bigger games and is averaging 230 yards passing and 3 touchdowns per game against AP Top 25 teams. Texas ranks 100th in passing efficiency defense and will need to limit big plays from Stanley and company, or Kansas could keep the game close. The beaten-up secondary for the Longhorns will be tested and under the microscope again, and Saturday is a way for the group to show they are making progress and good in-game decisions.

Throwin’ it Back

The Longhorns will sport throwback uniforms in honor of the 1969 National Championship team on Saturday, honoring the 50th Anniversary of Darrell K. Royal’s storied team. Texas won its second of three national championships under Royal in 1970, as they defeated Ara Parseghian and Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl 21-17. The game ball for the victory went to Freddie Steinmark, who, weeks earlier, underwent surgery for the removal of his leg because of bone cancer. The win marked the Longhorns’ 500th of all-time.

Injuries – Who’s in, Who’s Out?

The injuries in the secondary continue for the Longhorns. Junior Chris Brown is out six weeks due to a forearm fracture sustained in the lost to Oklahoma – his injury will require surgery. Texas will be also be without sophomore defensive backs Caden Sterns and Jalen Green again, as the two continue to rehab injuries (Sterns – knee sprain, Green – shoulder). Senior linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch suffered a dislocated shoulder and will not play on Saturday, while sophomore Juwan Mitchell has been cleared. Mitchell sprained his elbow against the Sooners and his snaps may be limited. Offensively, don’t expect to see Jordan Whittington this week as he continues to work through a repaired sports hernia surgery. Collin Johnson has also been cleared to play on Saturday, which is huge for the Texas offense. Johnson took a blow to the head after making a catch in last Saturday’s game but was not diagnosed with a concussion.

Summary

These two teams first played in 1901, and Kansas has beaten the Longhorns only three times since. The Jayhawks have never won in Austin, and barring a tremendous upset, likely will not on Saturday. However, every game in Big 12 play is meaningful, and the Longhorns will not be overlooking Saturday’s contest. Tom Herman’s philosophy after a loss rests in the notion that mistakes made should be viewed as feedback for future performances. This game provides a great opportunity for the team to implement what they practice – sound, fundamental football with a rallying spirit.

Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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