Keys to the Game: Kansas

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CREATE TURNOVERS

The Longhorn defense needs to start creating more turnovers if this squad wants to make any noise in conference play.

The new West Coast offense has not shown a consistent ability to sustain drives or make big plays, and, unless the offense improves, the defense has to start helping out.

The Longhorn defense did a decent job of containing the UCLA scoring attack, even when starting quarterback Brett Hundley was at the helm, but it forced only one turnover. 

Fortunately for the Longhorns, Kansas’ offense will not put up Baylor-sized point totals, but neither will Texas’. The best way to ensure the Longhorns score enough to beat a 2-2 Kansas team is if the defense can force Jayhawk sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart into making mistakes, giving sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and the Texas offense a short field.

SHUT DOWN KANSAS’ BACKS

Kansas’ quarterback play has been terrible this season. Cozart has completed only 54.8% of his passes and has only five touchdowns to go with three interceptions.

The only way the Jayhawks can realistically upset Texas is if its stable of running backs can carry the Kansas offense.

Kansas’ running backs — freshman Corey Avery and junior De’Andre Mann — each average around seventy yards per game, although their numbers are on the decline.

An overemphasis on stopping running backs has led to big games by athletic quarterbacks in the past, but, even though Kansas technically runs a spread option, Cozart and his 0.8 yards per carry pose no real threat in the run game.

The loss of immovable senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson is a huge blow to the Longhorn run defense, but the linebackers no longer have a running quarterback to worry about and should be able to focus more on the running backs.

GET IN THE ENDZONE

Two touchdowns might be enough to knock off a weak Kansas team, but the Texas offense has shown nothing to indicate that it can reliably put that many points on the board.

UCLA may have been a national title contender at the beginning of the year, but its defense ranks 60th overall in points allowed per game, and it has not even played a ranked opponent yet. The 17 points that Swoopes and company put up are not all that impressive.

The running game showed few signs of improvement against UCLA and play caller Shawn Watson has been hesitant to introduce packages that make use of Swoopes’ running ability.