Keys to the game: vs. Iowa State

Sydney Rubin

Capitalize on turnovers

Despite three-straight losses, the Longhorn defense showed a spark of progress in the first quarter of their 45–40 loss to the Sooners last weekend. After failing to record a single interception through its first four games, Texas tallied two against Oklahoma. Both of the picked-off passes landed in the hands of senior safety Dylan Haines. The Sooners turned the ball over four times throughout the back-and-forth game, but the Longhorns failed to execute off the turnovers — only scoring three points.

Against Iowa State, the Texas defense needs to continue to force turnovers and the offense needs to execute off the turnovers and take the ball into the end zone. The Cyclones have fumbled the ball six times this season, turning the ball over to opponents on four of those occasions. In the air, Iowa State junior quarterback Joel Lanning has thrown three interceptions in comparison to his nine touchdown passes. If Iowa State makes mistakes on Saturday, the Longhorn offense needs to take advantage and put more points on the board.    

Improve the secondary

The Longhorns have an abundance of young talent in the secondary, but the once-promising unit has been a weakness for the team so far this season. Texas ranks last in the Big 12 in passing defense — and 120th nationally — as the secondary continues to let receivers slip by and make catches week after week. Texas is allowing 297.8 passing yards per game and allowing a 66 percent completion rate. With some high-powered passing offenses like Texas Tech and TCU still on the Longhorn schedule, head coach Charlie Strong needs to fix his secondary, and he needs to fix it fast.   

Maintain offensive explosiveness

If anything is working for the Longhorns this season, it’s offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s hustling offense. Texas, ranked third in the Big 12 in scoring offense and second in the Big 12 in rushing offense, is racking up 41 points per game. The Longhorn running backs, led by junior D’Onta Foreman, are racking up yardage and points at an impressive clip.

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele is also performing well for the Longhorns, accounting for 12 touchdowns and averaging almost 241 passing yards per game. But the Longhorns need to generate more big plays to make a truly great offense. Two of Texas’ three losses this season have been by one touchdown or less, so the Longhorns are going to need that extra spark on offense to top the Cyclones.