Keys to the Game: vs. Kansas State

Sydney Rubin

Keep pounding on defense

Texas’ defense was on the verge of a meltdown before head coach Charlie Strong took over the unit’s play-calling duties two weeks ago. 

After struggling defensively against Oklahoma and ranking last in the Big 12 in total defense, Strong’s defense showed up early and often in Saturday’s 27-6 victory over the Cyclones. The unit came out refreshed and fired up, making the plays necessary to shut down the Cyclone offense. 

Texas held Iowa State to a mere 280 yards and six points in the victory, recording eight sacks in the process. Texas needs to bring that same defensive firepower to Manhattan on Saturday against Kansas State. Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said quarterback Jesse Ertz will start for the Wildcats this weekend despite leaving last week’s game against Oklahoma with a shoulder injury.

Kansas State’s passing offense, which ranks last in the Big 12 with 167 yards per game, doesn’t even remotely compare to the passing powerhouses Texas has previously faced this season.

Overcome road struggles

Texas is a perfect 3–0 at home this season, but the road woes that plagued the team last year have continued into 2016. The Longhorns have yet to snag a victory on the road this season and haven’t won a game in Manhattan since 2002. 

The Longhorns need to steal a few games on the road if they want to finish the season with a winning record. If Texas can go to Manhattan and emerge victorious, it will give them a much-needed confidence boost with Baylor coming to town on Oct. 29.  

Start fast on offense

Texas trailed Iowa State 3–6 at the half last Saturday, before freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and junior running back D’Onta Foreman led a second-half offensive surge. 

Buechele connected with receivers for 296 yards and two touchdowns, while Foreman notched his seventh-straight game of 100-plus yards, tallying 136 rushing yards and a touchdown. Texas boasts an explosive offense that is averaging close to 39 points per game. But Kansas State’s defense, particularly its rushing defense, is tough to beat. 

The Wildcats sit atop the Big 12 in rushing defense and rank fourth nationally, holding opponents to less than 91 yards on the ground. Texas needs to score quickly and build up a lead to avoid getting worn out by the Kansas State defense.