The offensive line
The Texas offensive line looked shaky at times last week against West Virginia. The Longhorns gave up four sacks, including one that cleaned every bit of freshman quarterback Shane Buechele’s clock.
Texas’ pass protection has been suspect throughout the season. The Longhorns rank seventh in the Big 12 in sacks allowed, giving up 24 sacks for a total loss of 135 yards.
Oddly enough, running the ball has not been a problem at all for the Longhorns who average 244.4 yards per game on the ground. This week against an inferior opponent in Kansas, the Longhorns have a chance to really impose their will up front. The Jayhawks rank eighth in the Big 12 in rushing defense. Kansas was taken to task by Iowa State last week on the ground as the Cyclones rushed for 238 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
If Texas can control the line of scrimmage and protect Buechele, then it should have no problem leaving Lawrence, Kansas, with a win.
Buechele did not have his best performance against the Mountaineers.
The true freshman quarterback threw for 318 yards but only averaged 6.6 yards per attempt. Buechele also made some very risky throws, with one pass being intercepted — not necessarily by his fault — and a few more that easily could have been.
It still wasn’t a bad day for Buechele, who ran for 44 yards and a touchdown against one of the best and most physical defenses in the Big 12.
On Saturday against Kansas, Buechele and the Texas offense will face a less imposing Kansas defense. However, the Jayhawks are quietly capable in pass coverage, as they rank third in the Big 12 in pass defense. Buechele will have to be sharper, and he can’t force the ball into tight windows like he did against West Virginia.
After a solid outing against Texas Tech, the Longhorns’ secondary often looked out of sorts against West Virginia in the first half.
Sophomore cornerback Kris Boyd followed up his standout performance against the Red Raiders with a very underwhelming showing against the Mountaineers, including getting beat for a touchdown.
Texas also struggled to get off the field on third down, largely due to giving up crucial passing plays that helped West Virginia keep drives alive. However, the Texas secondary did force turnovers — four of them. Senior safety Dylan Haines had two interceptions, sophomore nickelback P.J. Locke III had an interception and Boyd forced and recovered a fumble.
Against the Jayhawks on Saturday, this secondary has the chance to continue to grow and build confidence against a very mediocre Kansas passing attack. If the Longhorns can win the early downs and force Kansas into passing situations, then it could be a long day for the Jayhawks.