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Scouting Report: Kansas State

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Despite a lot of noise surrounding the Texas football program and Tom Herman’s future, the Longhorns still have two games remaining in the regular season. A Saturday trip to Manhattan to play Kansas State might be the last thing on the minds of many Texas fans, but the game presents some interesting matchups as Texas will be forced to turn to some younger players to fill holes left due to injury or a couple of players opting out. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Kansas State:

Offense

Heading into the season, it appeared the Wildcats would be legitimate threats for the Big 12 title, and a big reason was senior QB Skylar Thompson. Thompson was entering his 3rd year as the starter and was expected to be one of the better QB’s in the Big 12. Unfortunately, Thompson was hurt in the 3rd game of the year against Texas Tech and ruled out for the season. The Wildcats offense has sputtered with freshman backup Will Howard under center. Howard is severely limited as a passer and it has allowed opponents to force the Wildcats to beat them through the air. Howard has more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6), which is not a recipe for success going against a strong Texas defense. Howard does have some mobility, so the Longhorns defensive line and linebackers will have to do a good job of keeping contain and not letting Howard slip loose. 

Freshman RB Deuce Vaughn leads the Wildcats with 517 rushing yards but has faced a lot of stacked boxes since Howard took over. The son of former Texas DB coach Chris Vaughn stands at only 5’5 but has great burst and plays like someone who is 6 inches taller. He is far from a one-trick pony and Kansas State isn’t afraid to run him between the tackles. Vaughn is also the leading receiver on the team with 389 yards on 21 catches.

Last week against Baylor, Kansas State receivers combined for 2 catches, which speaks to the trouble the Wildcats have getting the ball down the field and the lack of talent on the outside. The Texas corners should not be challenged much. The biggest pass catching threat outside of Vaughn is TE Briley Moore, who is licking his chops after seeing how Texas defended Charlie Kolar and the other Iowa State TE’s.

Last year, the Wildcats had 5 redshirt seniors starting along the offensive line. This year, they have only 1 senior starter and the difference is stark. The offensive staff does not have a ton of trust in them to protect Howard as he goes through his reads, so expect a lot of quick throws and running plays away from Joseph Ossai. 

Defense

The biggest storyline for the Kansas State defense heading into Saturday’s matchup is they will not have to worry about facing Sam Cosmi, the best Texas offensive lineman. There is also a strong possibility that Derek Kerstetter will also miss the game with an ankle injury, meaning the Longhorns could be without a pair of 3 year starters along the offensive line. This is bad news for Texas fans, as the Wildcats boast a strong defensive line. The unit is led by DE Wyatt Hubert. The junior was a first team All-Big 12 member last season and has a team leading 7.5 sacks on the season. Christian Jones and whoever starts at the other tackle spot will have their hands full all afternoon. 

Elijah Sullivan and Justin Hughes hold down the two linebacker spots. The redshirt seniors bring a ton of experience to the defense and Sullivan in particular is someone Texas will need to keep an eye on. 

On the backend of the defense, nickelback AJ Parker is the best defensive back on the roster. Parker, who seemingly has endless eligibility, will spend a lot of time matched up on Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington. 

Overall Thoughts

This sets up as a classic game of ‘the team who wants to be there more will win’. It is unknown how much motivation Texas will have after having their Big 12 title hopes evaporate in Austin last Friday. Kansas State is not a good team and is coming off a loss to an even worse Baylor team. If Sam Ehlinger shows up, there is a good chance Texas can fly home with a victory, but this has all the makings of an ugly game. 

Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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