The offensive line
The old adage “the best defense is a good offense” couldn’t ring any truer this week for the Longhorns.
Facing Texas Tech’s No. 2-ranked offense in the nation in a hostile environment, Texas’ best defense will be to play keep away, and that starts up front with the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert likes to push the tempo, but has also slowed things down at times this season.
The Texas offense will have to control the clock and run the ball effectively to help protect the Longhorns’ vulnerable defense. The offensive line is in for a favorable matchup against a weak Texas Tech defensive front.
The Red Raiders rank last or second to last in the Big 12 in every major defensive category, including ninth in rushing defense. If the Texas big men up front can control the line of scrimmage and open up holes, then junior running back D’Onta Foreman should be in for another big performance.
The defense, part six
It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Texas defense came up with key stops throughout the game against Baylor to help the Longhorns upset the Bears. Texas surrendered 398 yards on the ground to Baylor’s dominant rushing attack, but the Longhorns were able to sack Baylor quarterback Seth Russell six times and pick him off once.
Now, the nation’s No. 2-ranked offense awaits the Longhorns in Lubbock. Texas Tech’s air raid attack is led by junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, who leads the Big 12 in passing and total offense.
The Longhorns faced a similar offense against California in week three, but it didn’t end well. Texas defensive backs got burnt all game and allowed 396 yards through the air.
In recent weeks, the Texas secondary has made some progress. Sophomore defensive backs P.J. Locke III and Kris Boyd both played well against Baylor last week. The secondary will need to have its best outing of the season if the Longhorns hope to slow down this Red Raider offense and pick up their first road win.
Sophomore defensive end Breckyn Hager stirred the pot this week when he declared his intentions to “injure that quarterback” when asked about facing Patrick Mahomes II at a Monday press conference.
Hager doesn’t hold back on the field, and he certainly didn’t hold back at this press conference. But the sophomore will have to back up that kind of talk on Saturday with strong play. Mahomes is one of the most proficient passers in the country, and Hager and his fellow defensive ends will need to put a lot of pressure on Mahomes.
Mahomes is sure to be motivated by Hager’s comments to play, so in return, Hager will need to come ready to play, too.