Photo Courtesy: Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
Entering a big contest versus a top-25 ranked school in the Kansas State Wildcats, the Longhorns have their work cut out for them on Saturday. With a win, the Longhorns will be one step closer to securing an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game. With a loss, well… let us not get so negative. Today, our Devon Messinger and Dylan DeRaud name their X-factors to watch out for in the YouTube video above.
If you are also wanting to watch their discussion of Texas’ rank in this year’s first College Football Playoff rankings, simply click here.
First, let us think about the obvious X-factor in redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy. The Longhorns quarterback had a decent game against BYU last weekend, but will have to avoid the turnovers this week against a team that could make Texas pay.
Additionally, the defensive line will have to continue to shut down the line of scrimmage. While the unit has been good at shutting down the run, they must improve in bringing down opposing quarterbacks. It is understandable that the sack totals are not overwhelming, considering the fact that many opponents have opted to dial up quick passes, but there has also been a multitude of missed opportunities as well.
In the upcoming Texas vs. Kansas State matchup, the spotlight will be on the Longhorns’ defensive front, and for a good reason. Texas has made a statement this season by shutting down the run, holding opponents to just 97.9 rushing yards per game and a meager 3.2 yards per carry. This sets the stage for a matchup against the Wildcats run game, who average 226 rush yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry.
The success of T’Vondre Sweat, Byron Murphy, Alfred Collins, and Barryn Sorrell in keeping Kansas State one-dimensional by forcing quarterback Will Howard to throw is the game’s X-factor. Howard has shown vulnerability with seven interceptions this season, and if Texas can apply pressure and disrupt the Wildcats’ ground game, it could translate into more opportunities for their offense and relieve the burden on their secondary. The performance of Texas’ defensive front will be pivotal in shaping the outcome of this highly anticipated Big 12 clash.