Opponents to watch: Anderson, Blacklock present challenges on both sides of ball

Myah Taylor

Although Texas improved to 5–2 on the season last Saturday, its 50-48 win over Kansas was not the blowout victory most were anticipating. Costly turnovers by the Longhorn offense in the fourth quarter and abysmal play by the defense throughout the game nearly sent the Jayhawks back to Lawrence, Kansas, with a rare win. After last weekend’s unexpected thriller, Texas still remains in the running for the Big 12 Championship. However, several questions now surround the Longhorns, who will travel to face a TCU team boasting a star defensive tackle and a productive running back. Here are four Horned Frog players to watch this weekend against Texas: 

No. 6  Darius Anderson — Running back

Kansas racked up 569 yards of offense against Todd Orlando’s defense last weekend, largely in part to the play of sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr., who seemed almost unstoppable on the ground. This week at TCU, the Longhorns will be tasked with limiting another dynamic running back: senior Darius Anderson. Anderson has six touchdowns on the season — two on the ground and four through the air. The star back has rushed for 588 yards this season on 83 attempts, with 220 of these yards being against Big 12 opponents. To avoid a repeat of what transpired against Kansas last week, the Texas defense must limit Anderson’s aggressive rushing attack.

No. 90 Ross Blacklock — Defensive tackle

In a press conference earlier this week, Texas head coach Tom Herman said junior Ross Blacklock is “as good a defensive tackle as we’ll play this year.” Herman was correct in his assessment. Blacklock has posted 3.5 sacks this season and 14 solo tackles. The Missouri City, Texas, native will also bring size and strength to the matchup at 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds. In recent weeks, junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has repeatedly navigated a collapsed pocket. If Texas’ defense continues to give up huge scoring plays, Ehlinger and the offense can’t miss a beat. This means the Longhorn offensive line needs to key in on Blacklock so that Ehlinger can avoid the sack and any negative yardage plays.

No. 15 Max Duggan — Quarterback

For the first time this season, Texas will meet a true freshman quarterback in Max Duggan. In six starts, Duggan has thrown nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. With 874 passing yards, the freshman is also pretty good on his feet. In TCU’s loss last week at Kansas State, Duggan rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown. The Iowa native’s 46-yard touchdown run in which he stiff-armed defenders en route to the end zone helped the Horned Frogs tie up the game. Although the score wasn’t enough to hold off the Wildcats, who rallied late to win the game 24-17, Duggan established himself as an athletic quarterback. However, he’s also sack prone. In six games, opposing defenses have gotten to Duggan nine times this season. Texas’ defense should look to put Duggan on the ground Saturday before he takes off running through the secondary.

No. 7 Trevon Moehrig — Safety

Sophomore safety Trevon Moehrig has put up impressive numbers for the Horned Frog defense in 2019. This season, Moehrig has recorded 23 solo tackles, five passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble. These stats should be a red flag for a Texas offense that has seen receivers dropping more balls. Turnovers and missed opportunities nearly cost the Longhorns a game last weekend. To avoid more disaster at TCU, Texas must keep the ball out of the hands of Moehrig.