Step Up: West Virginia

Nick Castillo

Cedric Reed

Where has the senior defensive end been this season? The 6-foot-2-inch, 272-pound Cleveland, Texas, native hasn’t had the impact he was expected to have this season. Reed was placed on multiple 2014 award watch lists in the preseason – Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award – after having a great junior season.

But this season, Reed only has 38 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Longhorns need more from Reed, as they fight for two more wins to become bowl eligible. More importantly, Texas needs Reed to step up so they can pull off the win against West Virginia on Saturday.

Tyrone Swoopes

Swoopes was on this list last week because it was imperative that he step up against Texas Tech after a poor performance against Kansas State. But, after a rebound game against the Red Raiders — throwing for 228 yards and a touchdown — Swoopes is on the list for a different reason.

The Longhorns need Swoopes to step up and be consistent. If Texas wants to beat the Mountaineers and keep its bowl hopes alive, Swoopes needs to play his best. The Longhorns can’t afford for the sophomore quarterback to digress. They need him to keep getting better.

Defensive backs

Unsurprisingly, the defense has become the cornerstone of Charlie Strong’s team this season. Against Texas Tech, the Texas defense held the Red Raiders to 225 yards. The Longhorns will need their defensive backs to step up and continue to play well in order to beat West Virginia. The Mountaineers rank 11th in passing yards per game, with 325.8 yards per contest, so Texas will need its secondary to step up and contain West Virginia’s passing attack.

Nick Rose

The junior kicker had a pretty rough start to his season, but he’s continued to improve throughout the year. Against Texas Tech, Rose hit 2-of-3 field goals, including a career-long 46-yarder. While Rose has continued to improve this season, they will need him to be perfect this week. Texas needs its kicker to step up and lead the team to victory over the Mountaineers to get one step closer to bowl eligibility.