A 4-0 start to the season will be tested for Texas on Saturday afternoon as they welcome in Kansas for the second week of Big 12 conference play. The Jayhawks also enter with a record of 4-0 and made their debut inside the top 25 earlier this week. Lance Leipold’s team opened conference play with a victory over BYU a week ago. The Jayhawks present some interesting matchups for the Longhorns, and everyone knows what happened the last time these two teams met in Austin.
Jalon Daniels had his breakout performance during the 2021 matchup in Austin and has not looked back since. The junior is completing almost 75% of his passes on the year and is averaging over 9 yards an attempt. He has great mobility in and out the pocket and a knack for extending plays. His rushing stats might surprise some people (74 yards on 27 carries for the year), but don’t let that fool you. He is a threat with his leg and will take free yards if the defense gives it to him.
Devin Neal is averaging nearly 7 yards a rushing attempt and will be the primary running back. Neal is right up there as one of the best RB’s in the Big 12. On the outside, Lawrence Arnold and Luke Grimm have been around forever and are the two primary receivers. Arnold serves as the big body target at 6’3 while Grimm operates primarily out of the slot. The Jayhawks also love to get their TE’s involved, mainly Mason Fairchild but Jared Casey will see targets as well (yes, that Jared Casey).
The Jayhawks returned quite a bit of experience up front on the offensive line. LT Dominick Puni is the anchor of the unit and is a good player. The unit is has allowed 5 sacks on the season and seems to be more comfortable run blocking than pass protecting. Daniels ability to scramble helps them out quite a bit.
The Jayhawks were dreadful on defense a season ago. Texas racked up over 400 yards rushing in last year’s matchup in Lawrence. Kansas turned over a significant portion of their front 7 and have seen good results so far. Transfer Devin Phillips has looked good at defensive tackle with fellow transfers Austin Booker and Hayden Hatcher offering some juice at the defensive end spots.
The backend of the Kansas defense returns several key starters from last year, including CB Cobee Bryant and S Kenny Logan. Nickel Craig Young also has a lot of football under his belt. The Jayhawks have struggled at times defending the pass this year but overall seem more sound in the backend than previous years.
It remains to seen just how improved the Kansas defense is. The Longhorns will surely try to see if the run defense issues are fully cleaned up, especially after what Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Johnathan Brooks did a year ago in Lawrence.
Kansas will be toughest test Texas has faced defensively so far this season. If Pete Kwiatkowski’s unit shows well on Saturday afternonon, it would be a great sign for rest of the season. For Texas offensively, a fast start may be more important than usual with how quickly the Jayhawks can put up points.
If Texas plays to their standard, they should pull away from Kansas over 4 quarters. But ranked matchups are not supposed to be easy and the Longhorns should expect to get the Jayhawks best shot on Saturday afternoon.