Keys to the Game: vs. Iowa State

Wills Layton

Get Buechele back into a rhythm

Although the Longhorns can be proud of their notable improvements after battling then-No. 4 USC in a double overtime thriller in Week Three, reality strikes back this week in Ames, Iowa. While Iowa State is not as esteemed of a team as the Trojans, Texas must stay focused on building a steady offensive rhythm against the Cyclones on Thursday night.

The first step to getting back to business is making the decision to give the ball to sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele, who is returning from a shoulder injury. While freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger made a case for himself against USC, throwing for 298 yards and two touchdowns, burnt orange fans can expect Buechele to make his return to the pocket this Thursday.

The Iowa State defense is primarily powered by its secondary. Redshirt junior cornerbacks Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne are in natural positions on the outside while 27-game starter redshirt senior Kamari Cotton-Moya safeguards the back at free safety.

If Texas can establish a strong running attack at the Cyclones’ expense, this should clear passing lanes and allow Buechele to ease back into rhythm with the Longhorn offense.

Continue the impressive play on defense

Many assumed USC would rip apart a Texas defense that gave up 51 points to Maryland during Week One. But the Longhorn defense put heavy pressure on USC redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold and forced two interceptions, ultimately establishing a new standard for the entire team.

Meanwhile, the Iowa State offense has notably scored at least 40 points in three straight games coming into Thursday’s match. The Longhorns must shut down redshirt junior quarterback Jacob Park and the Cyclone offense in order to pick up their first road win of the season.

Secondly, the burnt orange defense looks to continue to shut down the run game. The Longhorns held Trojan runners to 71 yards, in comparison to the 307 yards that USC ran for against Stanford in Week Two.

In order to take home a victory and build character as a team, the Longhorns must play a balanced and mistake-free defensive game against the Cyclones this Thursday.

Feed Collin Johnson the ball

Texas’ offensive game plan was simple against USC — it consisted of Ehlinger throwing the ball to 6-foot-6-inch sophomore wide receiver Collin Johnson. More often than not, Johnson came down with the ball when it mattered most and finished the game with a team-best 191 receiving yards.

Although it most likely will not be Ehlinger who lines up under center at Iowa State, the game plan does not have to change. With Buechele’s cannon of an arm, expect to see some deep passes heading Johnson’s way.

While the team boasts other weapons at the wide receiver position, such as junior John Burt and senior Armanti Foreman, Johnson should continue to see action as the tallest receiver on the team this Thursday.