Keys to the Game: Texas needs to force more turnovers, avoid costly special teams mistakes

Matt Warden

Win the Turnover Battle

Texas is 0-5 against Kansas State over the last decade and a big reason for this is its inability to win the turnover battle with the Wildcats. Kansas State forced Texas into 16 turnovers in those five games, and holds an average turnover margin of 2.6. The Wildcats have been outgained by an average of about 100 yards in those matchups, but their ability to pressure the Longhorns into coughing up the ball allows the defense to dictate the game in more ways than just one. Texas can easily outmatch the Wildcats in yards gained with their rushing attack, but they must make up for the 15.6 points off turnovers average that Kansas State holds over them. If Texas can limit turnovers, then a win is within reach.

Win the Special Teams Battle

The Longhorns defense has one noticeable flaw and that is its inability to make tackles consistently. Every week you can almost count on a big play from the other team that swings momentum into its favor. Kansas State has the ability to make those same big plays. On average, Kansas State starts every possession about 10 yards closer to the end zone than Texas. Against Texas, Kansas State has started its drives, on average, at its own 39-yard line and averaged 22 yards per punt return and 28.6 yards per kick return during the win streak. While these numbers indicate only big plays on special teams, it’s enough to give Kansas State a big advantage before the offense even takes the field. The Longhorns need to make sure they find the returners in this game to prevent better field position for the Wildcats.

Just Win

There comes a point in every tough stretch when a talented team must simply dig deep and win in any way they can. Texas has three running backs that could earn starting time at most Division 1 teams and none of them have been able to find consistent play in the offense. Texas has an experienced defense that has been through both highs and lows and should know by now what needs to be improved. The Longhorns are simply playing soft football and the blame, while a lot of it needs to be placed on Mack Brown, needs to fall on the players for a change. Make tackles, run consistently, and stop making boneheaded mistakes. The Longhorns need to wake up and realize what kind of talent they have before they end up with another disappointing season.