Shane Buechele and the offense
The Texas offense looked uncharacteristically inept in the first half against Iowa State last week. The Longhorns managed only 161 yards, eight first downs and a field goal heading into the locker room at halftime.
But the Longhorns recovered in the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points and finishing with 505 yards of offense. Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele finished with 296 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Longhorns’ offense will have to get off to a much better start on Saturday against Kansas State. Texas has historically struggled against the Wildcats in Manhattan. The Longhorns haven’t won in the “Little Apple” since 2002, their only win there in program history.
If Buechele and the offense can put up points early and grab a lead, then it will put a lot of pressure on a very limited Kansas State offense and may force it to throw the ball. The Wildcats are only averaging 167 passing yards per game and junior quarterback Jesse Ertz is completing just 49.6 percent of his throws.
Kansas State leads the Big 12 in rushing defense, only allowing 90.3 yards per game on the ground. If the Wildcats have success on early downs and can contain the Texas run game, then Buechele will have to make some critical throws to keep drives alive. Buechele and the offense will need to play with urgency and tempo from the get-go if the Longhorns hope to snap their losing streak in Manhattan.
The defense, part four
Call it a step forward, call it a revival, call it whatever you want — the Texas defense looked much-improved against Iowa State last week.
The Longhorns gave up only 280 yards of offense to the Cyclones and did not allow a touchdown. That in and of itself was a tremendous step in the right direction after getting torched for 672 yards and 45 points just a week prior against Oklahoma. Texas also got after the quarterback, finishing the game with eight sacks, and didn’t allow any big plays.
On Saturday against Kansas State, the Longhorns draw a relatively easy test on defense compared to the ones they have faced so far this season. The Wildcats rank 115th in the nation in total offense.
Kansas State does not throw the ball effectively, ranking last in the Big 12 in passing yards and efficiency. Instead the Wildcats rely on running the ball and eating the clock.
This week, the Texas defensive line and linebackers will need to have a similar game to the one they had against Iowa State, controlling the line of scrimmage and making plays up front. If the Longhorns can contain Kansas State’s rushing attack led by junior quarterback Jesse Ertz and senior running back Charles Jones, then it will be long day for the Wildcats’ offense.