Keys to the Game: vs. Kansas State

Wills Layton

Control the turnover game

Nothing kills a drive like an untimely fumble or interception. Last week, the Longhorns turned the ball over twice against Iowa State. On the other hand, Texas was able to force three turnovers versus the Cyclones — the deciding factor in the 17-7 win. Junior safety DeShon Elliott collected two interceptions against Iowa State and further cemented his status as a defensive star this season. Elliott also had two interceptions against USC in Week Three, returning one for a touchdown.

The Wildcats have collected a total of eight takeaways in its three wins this season. Both the Texas running backs and sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele must protect the ball and the defense will need to continue its high performance in order to be successful against Kansas State this weekend.

Get the running game back on track

After rushing over 400 yards against San Jose State, the rushing attack has only produced a total of 209 yards in the past two games combined. The run offense has grinded to a halt since the breakout versus the Spartans.

The fault lies with both the running backs and the health of the offensive line. All-American junior offensive lineman Connor Williams has been off the field with an injured knee ever since Texas faced USC in Week Three, and the Longhorns have struggled to find success in the offensive line as a result. 

The Kansas State defense has held its previous two opponents — Baylor and Vanderbilt — to under 100 yards rushing over the past two weeks and looks to pose a tough challenge for Texas running backs junior Chris Warren III and sophomore Kyle Porter this weekend.

Getting the running game back to a higher level of output will keep the Kansas State defense honest in the passing lanes andcontribute to a more balanced offensive attack.

Focus the offense around Buechele 

Buechele returned to the field during last Thursday’s match against Iowa State, after missing two starts due to a shoulder injury. The sophomore passed for 171 yards and a  touchdown, but also threw an interception late in the second half.

While Texas has grown accustomed to Buechele putting up high passing numbers, there will be a learning curve as he eases his way back into the offense. The rushing game must improve in order to make Buechele’s job easier in the pocket.

Look for Buechele to throw deeper passes as he starts his second game since returning from the injury. If the running game can open passing lanes for the young quarterback, expect big numbers against Kansas State.