Keys to the Game: vs. Baylor

Sydney Rubin

Take advantage of opportunities

Texas went to Manhattan, Kansas, last week looking for its first win in the Little Apple since 2002. Texas had a plethora of opportunities to win the game, but missed catches, penalties and a missed field goal in the final minutes spoiled the Longhorns’ chances as they fell to the Wildcats, 24–21. 

Texas was penalized 10 times for 72 yards, allowing Kansas State’s offense — which was on the field for almost twice as long as Texas’ was — to march down the field with ease. 

Texas managed to force three turnovers, but failed to capitalize. The fact though, is not surprising given that Texas has scored a paltry three points off of turnovers in 2016. The Longhorns are getting the breaks they need to win games, but have yet to make impact plays to get the team over the hump. 

There’s no room for error this weekend against the undefeated Bears. The Longhorns need to minimize penalties and convert turnovers into points.

Slow down the run 

Baylor sits atop the conference in rushing offense, just ahead of Texas. Senior quarterback Seth Russell averages the second-most rushing yards for a quarterback in the conference, running for slightly more than 50 yards per game. He’s quick on his feet and can scramble for first downs to keep drives alive. 

Baylor is scorching defenders week after week behind the running efforts of Russell and senior running back Shock Linwood. Linwood is carrying for just over 83 yards per game and is the conference’s third leading rusher behind Foreman and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon. 

Texas’ defensive unit has not been efficient this season, so facing a powerhouse offensive team like Baylor will be a difficult task. The Longhorns need to slow down Baylor’s run game by making tackles — a task they’ve struggled with  this season — and force the Baylor offense off the field.  

Attack on offense

Baylor boasts an elite defensive unit, ranking first in the conference in total defense and holding opponents to a measly 17.2 points per game. But Texas running back D’Onta Foreman could be the antidote the Longhorns need for Baylor’s smothering defense.

The junior has been a bright spot for Texas all season, solidifying himself as one of the premier running backs in the nation. Foreman leads the conference in rushing, averaging 142.5 yards per game and accounting for eight touchdowns on the season. Foreman has racked up eight-straight games with 100-plus rushing yards, and he  needs to make it nine if Texas wants any shot at winning. 

But if Foreman is to have success, he will need an offensive counterpart to step up and make plays down the stretch. Freshman receiver Devin Duvernay has proved to be a reliable target for freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and can pop the top off of the Baylor defense. Against a defense like Baylor’s, Texas’ receivers need to step up and make the big catches to open up the offense and create space for Foreman.