Keys to the Game: vs. Kansas

Wills Layton

Develop some kind of offensive consistency

Last season, the Longhorns had to beat TCU on Thanksgiving in order to become bowl eligible after blowing a golden opportunity with an upsetting loss to Kansas in Lawrence. In what became the final game of former head coach Charlie Strong’s Texas career, the Longhorns lost, 31-9.

Much like in last year’s game, the Longhorn offense looked listless and inefficient versus the Horned Frog defense this past weekend. Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele connected on some deep throws but struggled to consistently lead the offense to the end zone. The running game continued to struggle, gaining only nine yards throughout the entire contest.

Kansas has struggled against every Big 12 team it has faced, losing each game by more than 10 points. With the Longhorns hosting, this is the perfect opportunity to fine-tune the offense and pick up the fifth victory of the season, with two games left to play.

Score points, create field position on defense

With the offense struggling the way it has been recently, the Longhorn defense must pick up more of the slack. The best way to achieve this is through turnovers returned for touchdowns or setting of the offense with excellent field position.

Junior punter Michael Dickson has done a masterful job flipping the field this season with booming punts, which has resulted in him being named a Ray Guy Award weekly honor twice this season. The defense must keep opposing offenses wherever the punts land to stop momentum and create a short field for opposing punters to work with.

Playmakers such as juniors DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill have proven capable of scoring touchdowns on the defensive side of the ball. In the case of Elliott, one of those scores gave the Longhorns momentum versus USC earlier this season. If Texas hopes to make a bowl game this season, the defense will have to score more points than it already has. 

Figure out a solution to Joshua Rowland  

Junior kicker Joshua Rowland’s 47-yard field goal attempt during the second quarter of last weekend’s game was a play that seemingly defined the season for Texas. Rowland’s aim was perfect, but the kick didn’t have enough juice and landed just short of the goal.

Rowland has had a terribly inconsistent season, making only half of his kicks. While the kicking issues may not be a game-killer versus the Jayhawks, it could become a major factor against teams such as West Virginia and Texas Tech.

With the season coming to a close, and the Longhorns being two games away from bowl eligibility, it is very possible that the entire season comes down to a single kick. Longhorn nation cannot be comfortable with Rowland in that situation.