Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Keys to the game – Iowa State

Lorianne Willett
Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell during Texas’ game against TCU on Nov. 11, 2023. Mitchell made the game-winning catch in the fourth quarter.

With just two weeks left in the regular season, Texas football will take to the road for the final time this season as it looks to knock off Iowa State and remain firmly in the playoff picture. Coming off of a nailbiter against TCU, the Longhorns would do well to stamp a start-to-finish road victory to bolster their postseason resumé.

Here are some keys to the Longhorns taking down the Cyclones.

Get a lead — and hold it

Unequivocally, the most important thing for Texas to do this week is win. However, the fashion in which they do so should matter too.

With the exception of the home win over BYU (which was arguably closer than the scoreboard reflected), three of the Longhorns’ last four games have seen Texas take a commanding 20-point lead in the first half, only to squander it in the second half and barely escape. Last week’s hero was junior wideout Adonai Mitchell, who hauled in an acrobatic catch on third and long to ice the game, but only after TCU had stormed back from a 26-6 halftime deficit.

While the 9–1 record is the important part, Texas’ inability to win comfortably over the last few weeks is concerning. With undefeated juggernauts such as Oregon, Washington and Florida State still ahead in polls, Texas winning convincingly, rather than squeaking by, should be an emphasis ahead of their trip to Ames.

Ease in CJ Baxter

Despite the win in Fort Worth, the Longhorns suffered a devastating blow with the loss of running back Jonathon Brooks to a torn ACL. Through 10 games, the sophomore had rushed for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns, looking like a locked-in finalist for the Doak Walker Award and a future NFL draft pick. Instead, he’ll begin a long road to recovery.

Brooks was Texas’ engine offensively this season, a fixture in short-yardage situations and a weapon in the passing game, too. Now, though, the focus turns to true freshman CJ Baxter, who had split time with Brooks but now figures to slot in as a true workhorse back.

The top running back prospect in the 2023 class, Baxter has flashed explosive running in the open field, most notably in his 54-yard touchdown against Kansas State. He’s was banged up earlier this season, missing time with both a rib and a foot injury, but the Longhorns will need him sorely to keep their season alive.

It may be tempting to hand it off to Baxter 30 times on Saturday, but Iowa State boasts a respectable run defense, holding opponents to just 3.7 yards per carry. Baxter will get the majority of the work load, but getting sophomores Jaydon Blue and Savion Red involved should help to keep Baxter fresh.

Let Quinn Ewers air it out

Texas’ offense, especially in the first half, looked much improved with the return of Quinn Ewers to the starting lineup. And with no Jonathon Brooks, even more will be heaped onto Ewers’ shoulders to get a win in Ames.

Iowa State’s defense ranks among the best in the Big 12, allowing the fewest passing yards per game and the lowest completion percentage in the conference. With a young running back behind him who has yet to operate as a true RB1, the Longhorns will need Ewers looking sharp on Saturday to beat the Cyclones.

Where Ewers can expose the Cyclones’ defense is his slew of weapons. Throughout the season, head coach Steve Sarkisian has done well at getting his trio of tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders and receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell involved at different moments, and Ewers will need to lean on his top targets more than ever.

Ewers is at his best when Sarkisian is dialing up plays to get receivers open across the middle of the field. In what should be a defensive battle, Texas has the edge at the most important position, and they should let their guy sling it.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.