The bye week that followed the heartbreaking loss to UCLA in Dallas gave Texas time to recover and look forward to the start of conference play. First up on the conference schedule is 2-1 Kansas. While Kansas dominates the Big 12 in basketball, their football team is consistently at or near the bottom of the league. Regardless, Texas has had its struggles when playing in Lawrence. For the Longhorns to show continued improvement, they need to make sure they donâ€™t fall into the trap of looking ahead to Baylor and Oklahoma.
Kansas returns dual-threat QB Montell Cozart in a quick-tempo hurry up offense. The Jayhawks run a shotgun, one back offense:
Quick Takes, Cozart is a dangerous runner, but the Jayhawk offensive staff seems to be working with him on passing rather than running. Cozart has shown that he is an exceptional runner, but he rarely uses that option and even if he is successful, he hasnâ€™t shown that he will return to that option.
The Jayhawk rushing attack will be no different than what Texas saw against UCLA and BYU in that Kansas employs a zone-read look where the QB reads the rushing DE/LB before deciding to keep or hand off to the running back.
The Kansas passing game is similar to the UCLA air attack (with Neuheisel). It consists of bubble screen passes to the WRâ€™s behind the LOS and short routes (3 to 8 yards).
The Jayhawks run a 3-3-5 defensive alignment that allows the secondary to have an extra man while maintaining the three linebackers to enforce the run defense. As Matt Cotcher mentioned in his pre-season Kansas Preview, the strength of the defense lies in the secondary, specifically at safety with returning defensive newcomer of the year Isaiah Johnson along with senior Cassius Sendish.
Kansasâ€™ 3-3-5 defense has shown the propensity to stand DEâ€™s up at the line, leaving only two down linemen. Defensive backs will often blitz, but will give up space to WRâ€™s as they provide a soft cushion that allows for short and intermediate passes.
Kansas has had a mixed bag when it comes to special teams. The field goal kicking is a problem as their kicker, Nick Wyman, has only made 4/8 field goals on the season. On the other hand, the Jayhawks are 17th in the nation in punt returns, averaging 17.3 yards per return, but that number is aided by the fact that they have only returned 3 punts all season and one of the returns was for 30 yards.
Texas has had difficulty in the return department, but this week against Kansas may provide an opportunity to set up a big return. Kansas punter Trevor Pardula is inconsistent, but has the occasional big punt (long of 72 yards vs Duke). As the Longhorns know, this can be a problem if the punt outkicks the coverage.
In Kansasâ€™ matchup against Duke, Pardula has a long punt, but the return man fields the ball ten yards in front of the first Kansas defender.
Texas QB/WR/TEâ€™s v. Kansas DBâ€™s:
Kansasâ€™ secondary is full of upper classmen and the Jayhawks are especially strong at safety. While the Jayhawks have experience in the defensive backfield, they have given up short passes and have holes in the middle of the field in zone coverage which have allowed opponents to pass for an average of 218 yards.
This is good news for Texas as the Longhorns passing game revolves around short and low-risk intermediate passes. Swoopes has an accurate arm and the receivers have been successful in finding ways to get open underneath coverage.