For the first time since early October, Texas is in the win column.
The story of the game was Roschon Johnson. The junior carried the Texas offense on his back (literally at times), finishing the afternoon with 31 carries for 179 yards and a TD. Johnson ran with power and effort all game, with a lot of his damage coming via the wildcat package. Steve Sarkisian said after the game he wishes he could have 100 Roschon Johnson's on his team. Texas will be in a good spot if that ever happens....
The Texas offense as a whole was productive despite a banged up Casey Thompson and no Bijan Robinson. Steve Sarkisian reached deep into his bag of tricks throughout the game and did a good job of keeping Kansas State off balance.
Speaking of Thompson, he had another up and down game, finishing 17/23 for 170 yards and a touchdown to go along with a bad interception he threw into double coverage. It is obvious Thompson played the last half of this season hurt, and it's tough to know what he could have done if he was close to 100% health. Steve Sarkisian said Monday he was going to reopen the QB competition this offseason and rightfully so. While Thompson had some good moments in 2021, he also was inconsistent even before the injury.
Xavier Worthy finished 2 yards shy of 1,000 on the season, but it doesn't take away how good he was this year. Worthy was arguably the best WR in the Big 12 and delivered big performances the last few weeks despite battling injuries. He has the chance to be one of the best wide receivers to ever play at Texas by the time he leaves the 40 acres.
Kyle Flood had to shuffle his offensive line after Junior Angilau went out with an injury, but the unit held up relatively well and helped pave the way for Johnson's big day. The offensive line has a whole certainly appeared to take some small steps forward the last few weeks, but I also believe Steve Sarkisian did a much better job of protecting them with his play calling.
The defense was the surprise of the afternoon. Kansas State rushed for over 150 yards in the first half, but in the second half the Longhorns dominated. Texas secured two huge 4th down stops in the 4th quarter. Jaylan Ford turned in a solid performance and the defensive line helped cause a lot of disruption in short yardage situations.
After the game, Sarkisian said he was very disappointed in the effort level by several players during Will Howard's 71 yard touchdown run. It's hard to disagree with him, as a few Texas DB's looked to give up on the play.
Will Howard did not present any type of threat in the passing game so it's tough to truly grade the pass defense for Texas. The Longhorns finally started dedicating more numbers to the run game in the second half and left their corners on islands.
It was good to see Texas win a game in which they trailed at halftime. It is well documented that Steve Sarkisian struggles when his teams are trailing at the half, but his staff was able to come up with the necessary adjustments defensively to help Texas shutout Kansas State in the second half.
Overall, it was a very disappointing season for Texas considering the circumstances. The Longhorns blew double digit leads in the second half against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor in addition to also heading Iowa State at the half. Texas could easily have finished the season with 8 or 9 wins, but they didn't and now Steve Sarkisian is going to have to spend some time reflecting on what needs to change moving forward. For the time being, Texas will be attempting to put a bow on the 2022 recruiting class and will be navigating the transfer portal as they look to upgrade the roster heading into next season.
The Texas Longhorns (4-7, 2-6) look to finish a disappointing season with a win against the Kansas State Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Texas and K-State will meet for the 22nd time all-time, with the Longhorns holding a slight 11-10 advantage in the all-time series record. Led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, Texas defeated Kansas State 69-31 decisively last season in the Little Apple.
Quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Hudson Card were both injured in last week's loss to West Virginia, and Wildcat quarterback Skylar Thompson suffered an injury last week as well.
Texas brings a six game losing streak into Saturday's game in hopes of finishing the season on a positive note.
What: Texas Longhorns (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) vs Kansas State Wildcats (7-4, 4-4 Big 12)
Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
When: Friday, November 26th, 2021
Time: 11:00 a.m. (CST)
On the Call: Aaron Goldsmith, Mark Helfrich
All-Time Series: Texas leads Kansas State 11-10
Last Meeting: Texas defeated Kansas State 69-31 (12/5/2020 - Manhattan, KS)
The Longhorns and Wildcats square off in the last game of the regular season on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats are bowl-bound while the Longhorns will be watching the post-season from the sofa. While the season has been a huge disappointment, Texas has an opportunity to finish with a win.
Here are four things I'll be keeping an eye on in the game.
Can Texas contain Duece Vaughn?
The Round Rock native will be playing in his first game in Austin and he will be looking to make a statement. Tom Herman and company didn’t offer Vaughn despite being him being just down the road and I’m sure we’ll be reminded of that on Friday's broadcast a few dozen times. In his young career with the Wildcats, Vaughn has mirrored Darren Sproles and I expect nothing to change in Friday's contest. Vaughn could be the best back Texas faces this season and given their struggles to stop the run, that isn’t good. Vaughn is averaging 5.9 yards a carry and he will be playing in front of family and friends on Friday, which is only added motivation.
Will Skyler Thompson play?
The Kansas State QB was carted off the field last Saturday but Head Coach Chris Klieman said there’s an outside shot he plays against the Longhorns. The Wildcats are a much different team with Thompson on the field. They are 6-2 this season when he finishes the game and 1-2 when he doesn’t. Last year Kansas State was the favorite to win the Big 12 before Thompson suffered a season ending injury in October. If he doesn’t play, Kansas State will be starting sophomore Jaren Lewis who has a 20.6 QBR in his limited time this season. That is a major difference and if Lewis plays Texas will have a shot to win.
Will a WR outside of Xavier Worthy step up?
Worthy may be the best wideout in conference as a true freshman which is a bright spot in a down year. What they have outside of him is what Steve Sarkisian must figure out. Jordan Whittington has been good when healthy this year and made his return last week. Unfortunately Texas was unable to get him the ball but they need to do so this week if they want to get the offense clicking. Marcus Washington has had his moments this season but against West Virginia the drops were an issue for him. This is a game that provides opportunity for Washington to show the coaching staff that he can be a factor next season and beyond.
Who will start at QB for the Longhorns?
Last weekend against the Mountaineers both Thompson and Card left the game banged up. Card took a questionable hit to his ankle which hobbled him and Thompson is still dealing with his thumb injury. Sark declined to name a starter this week but Thompson will likely take the first snap. Thompson has either been great or below average this year - nothing in between. Sarkisian also stated this week that he will be bringing in outside competition for QB this off-season. This is a good opportunity for both Card and Thompson to leave an impression as they head into the offseason, or one or both may be portal-bound.
This past weekend, I covered a plethora of games, five to be exact, and was able to watch a handful of Texas targets. Today, I will provide a quick overview of several players that impressed me during the Area round of the Texas high school football playoffs.
Playoffs Round 2:
Rueben Owens II: The five-star running back continued his streak of absolute dominance as he rushed for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns in El Campo's 56-42 win over Lindale. Unlike most El Campo wins, Owens was needed for most of Thursday's contest as Lindale's offense kept the Eagles in the game. However, Owens showed no signs of slowing down and kept the Ricebirds in the driver's seat throughout the night. Of course, Owens should be considered as Texas's top target in the 2023 recruiting class, along with five-star quarterback Arch Manning.
DK Ward: The class of 2022 athlete made plays on both special teams and defense, returning a kick return for a touchdown and tallying an interception as well. As I mentioned earlier in the season, when I covered El Campo's game against Boerne Champion, DK Ward deserves an opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
Johntre Davis: The senior athlete is one of the more entertaining players to watch at the high school level. Against Lindale, Davis added another 148 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground for the Ricebirds. Davis's physical style of running has fueled his recruitment, earning an opportunity to play football at McNeese State next season.
Dylan Raiola: Despite the Burleson Elks being a major underdog against Lovejoy, 2024 four-star quarterback Dylan Raiola displayed great maturity in the pocket and kept the Elks in the contest. Furthermore, Raiola's pocket presence was very promising, especially as a sophomore, as he was able to glide around the pocket to buy himself time to find open receivers. In addition to his feel for the pocket, Raiola's arm strength was certainly another impressive trait that stood out. Ultimately, Raiola accounted for three touchdowns in Burleson's 28-23 loss to Lovejoy, two of which were via the ground. The sophomore quarterback received an offer from Texas back in September and has seen has recruiting stock skyrocket as teams such as Alabama and Ohio State have also entered the race for his services.
Payton Pierce: The sophomore linebacker was all over the field against Burleson, plugging up gaps on defense and rushing for two touchdowns as a wildcat quarterback on offense. I believe that Pierce will be a player to watch for the Longhorns in recruiting going forward, especially because of Texas's need for linebackers. Additionally, the underclassman has already received five collegiate offers.
Jamarion Miller: Miller, a current Texas pledge in their 2022 recruiting class, looked to lead the Raiders past Cedar Hill in their Area round matchup at Globe Life Field. However, the Cedar Hill defense was able to create quite the push on Legacy's offensive line, forcing Miller to play the role of Superman just to get a gain of a couple of yards. Furthermore, Miller's biggest rush on the day was brought back by a holding penalty. Unfortunately, Miller's high school football career came to a close on Saturday as Cedar Hill cruised to a quiet 21-7 victory.
Bryson Donnell: Alongside Miller, Donnell is another senior running back that the Raiders had at their disposal. Donnell, a senior committed to Texas Tech, showcased his speed on a handful of occasions, exploiting narrow openings on the ground to pick up first downs. However, like Miller, Donnell's production was limited by a Cedar Hill defense which quelled Legacy's playoff hopes.
Devyn Bobby: Bobby, a senior defensive back committed to Baylor, came away with two interceptions in DeSoto's playoff matchup against Rockwall. Also, it is worth mentioning that his interceptions came against the 6A Classification's all-time leading passer, in terms of passing touchdowns, Braedyn Locke.
Caimon Mathis: Like Bobby, Mathis also was able to partake in the interception party as he tallied two of his own on Saturday. The junior cornerback has received three scholarship offers so far from Kansas, Marshall and Mississippi State.
Christopher Henley Jr.: Against Rockwall, Henley looked like beast mode as he broke tackles left and right, finishing the game with 4 rushing touchdowns and 232 rushing yards. Similar to many of his teammates, Henley also has his own share of scholarship offers from schools such as Illinois State, Navy and Texas Southern.
Matthew Allen: The senior Eagles quarterback was able to move the sticks through the air all night, ending play with a total of two passing touchdowns. So far through the playoffs, Allen has been able to manage the Eagles to a pair of playoff wins and should be considered as the team's X-Factor.
Cadien Robinson: In the second quarter, the senior cornerback made a SportsCenter-worthy interception which would have otherwise been completed for a touchdown. Last week, the Rockwall senior received a preferred walk-on offer from the Longhorns.
Owen Allen: The junior Dragons running back broke Carroll's all-time rushing record in the first round of the playoffs and continued to put up numbers on Saturday. Against Midland Legacy, Allen added another 247 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns to his season resume. Ever since I started covering Allen, during his freshman season, he has done nothing but produce for the Dragons on offense. Currently, the Dragons running back is without a college offer, but hopefully that changes soon.
Kaden Anderson: The Dragons starting quarterback shows poise in the pocket and always delivers an accurate football. So far this season, Anderson has thrown for 2,522 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, to just 6 interceptions. Like Allen, only time will tell how long the 6'4" junior quarterback will have to wait for an offer.
RJ Maryland: The senior Boston College commit made several first-down catches and is a nightmare for both linebackers and cornerbacks to cover from the flex tight end position. The 6'4" pass catcher has amassed 24 collegiate offers from schools such as Miami, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Avyonne Jones: The senior cornerback showcased active hands and was able to come away with a couple of pass breakups. In addition to Jones's play in the secondary, the Dragons were able to beat up on a solid Midland Legacy offensive line, launching them to a 42-7 win. Currently, Jones is committed to join the Wisconsin Badgers after his high school graduation.
The Texas Longhorns (4-7, 2-6) were officially eliminated from bowl consideration on Saturday after losing to the West Virginia Mountaineers (5-6, 3-5) in Morgantown. The loss brings the team's losing streak to six games, the longest it has been in more than half a century.
In Bijan Robinson's absence, Texas outrushed the Mountaineers behind the performances of Keilan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, who combined for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Casey Thompson started at quarterback for the Longhorns, but was replaced at the start of the second half by Hudson Card after having trouble getting the passing game going. Thompson finished the day 4-14 for 29 yards and an interception.
Hudson Card held the lone passing touchdown of the game for Texas, a 52-yard floater to Xavier Worthy in the 3rd quarter. He finished 10-16 for 123 yards before being injured in the 4th quarter. Card would return to finish the game with a taped ankle.
It was another tough day for the Texas defense, which gave up 459 yards of total offense to the Mountaineers, including 158 yards rushing and a touchdown to West Virginia running back Leddie Brown.
The quarterback play was very different for West Virginia. Jarrett Doege had a banner day, going 27-43 and throwing for three touchdowns and 290 yards.
The Longhorns close out out the season next weekend at home against the Kansas State Wildcats.
The Longhorns won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. West Virginia jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Doege to Sam James.
After three straight punts on possessions by Texas, West Virginia extended its lead to 14-0 on Doege's second touchdown pass of the game, this one to Winston Wright.
The Longhorns got on the board with 8:34 left in the second quarter, when Keilan Robinson ran 49 yards for a score to trim the Mountaineer lead to 14-7.
Leddie Brown's 2-yard touchdown run extended West Virginia's lead to 21-7 at the 2:34 mark, but Cameron Dicker's 50-yard field goal put three on the scoreboard and cut the lead to 21-10 in favor of West Virginia at the half.
Hudson Card's 52-yard strike to Xavier Worthy with 5:40 left in the third quarter made the score 21-17 at that point.
The Mountaineers answered at the end of the third quarter, with Doege throwing his third touchdown pass on the day, this one to Sean Ryan for 7 yards.
West Virginia led 28-17 headed to the fourth quarter.
On the quarter's opening drive the Longhorns would use 8 plays for 72 yards on a scoring drive that was capped with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Roschon Johnson. Texas went for two trailing 28-23 but would fail to convert.
West Virginia added a field goal with 7:03 remaining on the game clock to take a 31-23 lead.
The Mountaineers would hold on to the victory as Texas failed to convert on 4th down on its final drive of the game, turning the ball over on downs.
The Texas Longhorns (4-6, 2-5) head east on Saturday to face the West Virginia Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) at Milan Puskar Stadium. Both programs have had their share of adversity this season, but it's the Longhorns that have lost five-straight are in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl invite for the first time since 2016.
Texas has won the last two games between these two in Morgantown, but they will be without running back Bijan Robinson, who essentially was the spark on the Longhorns' offense each week until his injury last week against Kansas.
West Virginia is in the top 50 in total defense amongst FBS teams, and the Longhorns will need to find a way to move the ball, one way or another, as well as stop Mountaineer running back Leddie Brown if they want to have a shot at a road win.
What: Texas Longhorns (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) vs Kansas Jayhawks (1-8, 0-6 Big 12)
Venue: Milan Puskar Stadium
Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
When: Saturday, November 20th, 2021
Time: 11:00 a.m. (CST)
On the Call: Anish Shroff, Mike Golic Jr., Taylor McGregor
All-Time Series: Texas and West Virginia are tied at 5-5
Last Meeting: Texas defeated West Virginia 17-13 (11/7/2020 - Austin, TX)
Depth Chart: Texas vs West Virginia
Scouting Report: West Virginia Mountaineers
Staff Predictions: Texas vs. West Virginia
Four Things To Watch for as Texas heads to Morgantown
Discuss the Texas vs. West Virginia Game Here
The Texas Longhorns have dropped five straight and are in desperate need of a win. Bijan Robinson is out for the remainder of the season due to injury, but the Longhorns get Jordan Whittington back in the lineup as Texas heads to Morgantown.
Does Texas have enough gas in the tank to win a road game over West Virginia and remain one game from bowl eligibility with one game left on the season? If so, they will have to stop Mountaineer running back Leddie Brown, who averages 4.4 yards per carry.
The HornSports Staff shares their thoughts on the outcome of the Texas vs. West Virginia matchup.
Trying to analyze this team after last weekend’s historically brutal loss is hitting your head against the proverbial brick wall. There are a few stats that stick out ahead of this match-up in Morgantown, but the reality is much of that is insignificant if Texas continues to display inconsistent effort and fails to play a clean game as they have on this seemingly never-ending five-game losing streak. This is a winnable game against a down West Virginia team with an identical record, but I have no more benefit of the doubt to give especially when the good guys have won a single road game and are particularly sluggish away from DKR. The return of Jordan Whittington to the line-up is a nice addition, but I question how much protection Casey Thompson will have against a Mountaineers DL that is very good at getting in the opponent’s backfield. On the other side of things, I fully expect Leddie Brown to have a solid game – West Virginia wins when he has 100+ yards rushing – and for an up-and-down Jarret Doege to have his opportunities to find a rhythm. The streak hits six games, unfortunately.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 30, Texas 24
Devon Messinger (5-5)
For the first time since 1956, the Longhorns have lost five games in a row. Now, the Longhorns will have to flip the script and win two games in a row to clinch bowl eligibility. In Texas's way stands the West Virginia Mountaineers, a fellow 4-6 team striving for bowl eligibility.
The Mountaineers offense is led by redshirt senior quarterback Jarret Doege and senior running back Leddie Brown. However, West Virginia's star power is predominantly on the defensive side of the ball, where senior linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo is leading the team in tackles with 84. Additionally, defensive linemen Dante Stills and Taijh Alston have combined for 11 sacks this season and are bound to challenge Texas's offensive line.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Bijan Robinson is sidelined for the rest of the season after dislocating his elbow in last weekend's game. While this game is not unwinnable, things are not looking too bright for a team that just lost a home game to the Kansas Jayhawks. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 27, Texas 24
Jameson McCausland (7-3)
It's tough to know where Texas is mentally right now. They are coming off a loss to Kansas, Steve Sarkisian is openly talking about roster turnover, a bowl game is a longshot and the defense can't stop anybody. All the signs point to a team that is going to struggle going on the road and trying to win a football game against another team fighting for bowl eligibility.
Texas getting Jordan Whittington back is big for the offense, but the Longhorns will be without Bijan Robinson and Jonathan Brooks. The trend line this season says that when the Texas offense plays a decent defense, they struggle. Casey Thompson has put up some big numbers in conference play, but if you look under the hood 11 of his 20 passing touchdowns in Big 12 play have come against Texas Tech and Kansas. Texas is going to need Thompson to take care of the football and play a clean game if they want to walk out with a victory.
Ultimately, I think this game comes down to how the Longhorns defense is playing. West Virginia has several quality weapons at WR and a quality RB. It's hard to trust the Texas defense right now and that is why I believe West Virginia wins this game.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 35, Texas 28
Aaron Carrara (6-4)
Texas and West Virginia are fairly identical in terms of capability and deficiencies. Both have the potential to put up a lot of points, but Texas lacks a defense that can stop the run and Mountaineer quarterback Jarret Doege is averaging one interception a game. Pete Kwiatkowski's guys are tasked with stopping another prolific rusher in Leddie Brown, and they haven't proven through 10 games that they have any semblance of being able to. With that being said, I think Casey Thompson will take his downfield shots and the passing game comes up big today. The return of Jordan Whittington pays off for Sarkisian and Xavier Worthy and Marcus Washington have big days for the Texas offense. The Longhorns leave Morgantown with a narrow win thanks to turnovers.
Score Prediction: Texas 38, West Virginia 34
Mitch Lovell (5-5)
It’s very hard to imagine Texas winning in a hostile environment especially after losing to Kansas and tanking five in a row. No Bijan Robinson combined with Leddie Brown's rushing ability spells trouble for Texas in Morgantown.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 28, Texas 24
Tristan Larsen (6-4)
Texas is in a tailspin, the likes of which that haven’t been seen in Austin since the 50s. As if the 5 consecutive losses and the overtime meltdown to the Jayhawks wasn’t enough, Texas lost start back Bijan Robinson foe the remainder of the year. While the future is still bright, year 1 of the all has no breaks era has been a bit disappointing to say the least. However, Texas can potentially salvage this season with a win against fellow 4-6 Big-12 program, West Virginia. This has just seemed like a lost season for Texas as of late. While still chalkfull of talent, they haven’t shown the ability to be taken seriously as of late. When you make the Jayhawks offense look like last years Bama squad, then imagine what a West Virginia can do. As much as I want to have hope that Texas can turn this around, I just don’t see it.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 27, Texas 23
1. Can Texas finally stop the run?
For the most part, any team with a pulse has proven it can run on the Texas defense this season. West Virginia running back Leddie Brown averages 4.4 yards a carry and stopping Brown be the challenge for the Longhorns this weekend. Pete Kwiatkowski's side of the ball ranks 105th out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, and they rank 115th in the nation in rushing defense. I’m not sure how much fight the defense has left in them based on the 57 points they gave to Kansas, but if they can't stop the run it’s going to be another long trip back to Austin for the 'Horns.
2. How will Jordan Whittington's return help the offense?
Since Whittington broke his collarbone vs Oklahoma, the offense has certainly looked different. In fact, the Longhorns haven't won a game since he went down against the Sooners. He’s a great security blanket on third down, which is where Texas has missed him most. He also is able to take attention away from Xavier Worthy which should help tremendously, especially with Bijan Robinson being out for the year. Whittington also brings a physical mindset to the field, which this offense and team overall really need.
3. Can Texas force Jarret Doege to win the game?
Even with up and down play from Casey Thompson, Texas should have the advantage at quarterback. Doege has 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions has struggled throughout the season, and the Longhorns should be able to create some issues when he drops back. The Texas secondary has struggled as well, but they should have opportunities to make plays on the ball and run the other way with it. If Texas can win the turnover battle this is a very winnable game for Sarkisian and the Longhorns.
4. How will Texas fare in another hostile environment?
It's no secret that West Virginia hates Texas - and the Longhorns have had their share of trouble in hostile atmospheres this year. That is ultimately why think they will struggle to leave Morgantown with a win on Saturday. I was in Fayetteville earlier this season and could tell early on that the 'Horns were rattled and never really recovered. If that’s the case on Saturday, the team could be faced with another long day on the gridiron.
The Texas season reached a new low last Saturday when the Longhorns suffered a home loss at the hands of Kansas, who had not won a Big 12 road game since 2008. Now, Steve Sarkisian's team has to hit the road to take on West Virginia. The Mountaineers have had a disappointing year but are still fighting for bowl eligibility and will be surely fired up to host Texas for what might be the final game in Morgantown for the Longhorns as members of the Big 12 conference.
The West Virginia offense has struggled the last few weeks, putting up 3 points against Oklahoma State and 17 points against Kansas State. Quarterback Jarret Doege is in his second season as the full time starter and has struggled with turnovers for much of the season (10 interceptions). Doege struggles with accuracy when pushing the ball down the field so he will do the majority of his damage in the short and intermediate passing game. The big wildcard is the return of backup QB Garrett Greene, who missed last weeks game against Kansas State. Greene is used as a changeup and can move the ball with his legs (303 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on the season). It is widely known how much the Texas defense struggles agains the QB run, so expect to see quite a bit of Greene Saturday afternoon.
RB Leddie Brown has been at West Virginia for a while and continues to be one of the most steady running backs in the conference. They love to throw the ball to him out of the backfield (30 receptions this year). Brown has 751 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. One interesting note is Brown has been relatively quiet throughout conference play, averaging only 69 yards a game, but he gets the benefit of playing a porous Texas run defense this week and will surely carry the ball 20+ times. One of the reasons for Brown's struggles has been the inconsistent offensive line play in front of him. The offensive line is young (2 sophomore starters and a true freshman at RT) and has struggled at times. West Virginia is allowing almost 3 sacks per game.
The Mountaineers do have some solid weapons on the outside. Winston Wright, Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton all have over 30 receptions on the season. Wright is targeted early and often out of the slot and will be someone Texas needs to keep an eye on all game.
West Virginia ranks in the middle of the pack in most Big 12 defensive categories. The player to watch up front is DT Dante Stills. Stills is a future NFL player who is very strong against the run. He will be a lot to handle for the interior of the Texas offensive line. Defensive end Taijh Alston is having a good year as well and ranks second on the team with 5 sacks.
The Mountaineers have a veteran secondary that is led by safety Sean Mahone, who ranks second on the team with 65 tackles. Fellow safety Alonzo Addae was second team All-Big 12 in 2020 and is having a solid year. West Virginia can give up yards in the passing game but does a nice job of not giving up explosive plays over the top and tightening up their defense in the red zone.
It is anyone's guess what the mentality of the Texas team is heading into this game. If Texas is checked out, West Virginia has the athletes on offense to put up 40+ points and run Texas out of the stadium. If Pete Kwiatkowski is able to find a way to get the Texas defensive line to play at their capable level against a suspect West Virginia offensive line, the Longhorns have a chance of slowing down the West Virginia running game and putting the game in the hands of a turnover prone Jarret Doege. Both of these teams are fighting for bowl eligibility and it will likely be clear quickly who wants to be there and who is ready for the offseason.
A shocking season reached its peak Saturday night when Kansas dog-piled in the end zone following a successful two point conversion to beat Texas in overtime. The Texas program has had a lot of low moments over the last 12 years, but Saturday was rock bottom. The Longhorns let a third string QB lead the Kansas offense up and down the field with little resistance. The Jayhawks ran for 218 yards and threw for 202 despite the fact they probably didn't need to throw the ball the entire game. The Longhorns were gashed on the the ground.....again.
Pete Kwiatkowski arrived at Texas as a highly decorated defensive coordinator who had built dominating defenses at Boise State and Washington. It appeared to be a home run hire for Steve Sarkisian and Texas, but right now it is turning into a disaster.
What is going wrong for the Texas defense right now and is it fixable?
It can not be overstated how much Texas misses Joseph Ossai, Chris Brown and Caden Sterns. All 3 players played key roles in helping Texas play solid football against the run last year. Right now, Texas is coming nowhere close to matching the production those 3 provided. The Longhorns have been unable to set the edge all year against the run. The outside linebackers they are using are undersized and unable to hold up at the point of attack. In the secondary, BJ Foster, Brenden Schooler and Jerrin Thompson have all taken turns struggling against the run.
One of the biggest concerns when Kwiatkowski was hired was that Texas might lack the personnel to run his ideal system. The Longhorns were extremely thin at outside linebacker, a need they tried to address in the transfer portal. Texas also lacked experience and depth at linebacker. While Texas was able to add bodies at both inside and outside linebacker, it hasn't resulted in much production on the field.
Pete Kwiatkowski seemed to realize his talent deficiency as well, because about halfway through this season he made a key decision......
After starting the season in Kwiatkowski's usual 2-4-5 scheme, Texas suffered a key injury to Jacoby Jones. In response to Jones' injury and after allowing a massive comeback to Oklahoma, Kwiatkowski opted to roll out more of a traditional 3-4 alignment. The 3-man front allowed the defensive staff to move Alfred Collins and Moro Ojomo out to defensive end in an effort to beef up the edge of the defense and better hold up at the point of the attack. The results have been mixed. The Longhorns had solid first half performances against Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State but were then gashed in the second half in all 3 games and the entire game against the Jayhawks. The 3-man front has put a bigger emphasis on funneling the ball to the linebackers, which is perhaps the biggest weakness on the Texas defense right now. Against the Jayhawks, the defense repeatedly had instances where players were stunting into each other and just looked plain confused on what their assignment should be.
If we are being completely honest, it's hard to truly grade what Texas is doing defending the pass because teams haven't needed to throw the ball much to have success against the Longhorns. Regardless, Kwiatkowski deploys his corners and safeties in a way that makes it seem like he is deathly afraid of getting beat by the deep pass. Kansas was rolling with a 3rd sting QB yet Texas seemed perfectly okay with giving up free yards underneath. Just a very confusing gameplan and scheme all around.
The argument could be made that Texas severely lacks talent on defense, and that is a perfectly fine argument to make. But at some point you have to adjust to what is at your disposal and it certainly doesn't seem like Texas is doing a good job of making the necessary adjustments. The biggest adjustment Kwiatkowski has made was the switch to the 3-4 defense, which hasn't come close to producing the desired results. Look, it's hard to make wholesale changes during a season considering the limited amount of practice time teams have but Texas has taken it on the chin the last 5 weeks and aren't doing much to punch back.
So now what?
Steve Sarkisian gave his entire coaching staff a vote on confidence in his weekly press conference this morning, saying that these guys "haven't forgotten how to coach". While his statement is true, Steve Sarkisian is going to have to take a long look behind the curtain and figure out what is going on with his defense. Sarkisian himself mentioned that he was going to start getting involved with the defense more and that he could provide valuable input. His words certainly didn't appear to be hinting towards a change at defensive coordinator.
So let's assume Pete Kwiatkowski will be returning next year because that's probably the likeliest outcome. Now the question becomes are the issues with the Texas defense fixable? Look, anything is fixable if you are able to look in the mirror and truly figure out the root cause of the issue. The worst thing Pete Kwiatkowski (and Steve Sarkisian) could do this offseason is assume taking a handful of transfers is going to be what fixes the defense. Texas has a problem right now with the fundamental requirements of playing defense at a high level, beginning with how to line up and how to play complimentary football at all 3 levels. Raising the talent level is only going to help so much. The Texas defense needs to go back to basics. Kwiatkowski needs to pick a scheme (2-4-5 or 3-4) and stick with it. The scheme needs to be taught with clear responsibilities and an understanding for why certain positions have certain responsibilities. The players need to trust the coaches and the players more than anything have to trust each other when it comes to doing their jobs correctly.
If that trust doesn't develop, 2022 has a good chance to be a repeat of 2021.
After four straight losses, a home game against the Kansas Jayhawks is typically just what the doctor ordered to cure the worst of ailments. Instead of a win to somewhat straighten things out, Kansas punched Texas in the face early and held on to a 57-56 overtime win on Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.
Kansas hadn't won a conference road game since 2008.
Let's repeat that.
Kansas hadn't won a conference road game since 2008.
The Jayhawks took an early 14-0 lead before Casey Thompson threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Washington. Hudson Card replaced Thompson in the second quarter and tied the score at 14-14 with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Worthy with 8:48 remaining on the halftime clock.
At that point it looked like Texas may shake the rust off and start playing football.
That's when the wheels fell off for Texas.
Kansas drove the field and Jalon Daniels capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown scamper to propel the Jayhawks to a 21-14 lead. Hudson Card fumbled and threw an interception on consecutive drives for the Longhorns and Kansas took advantage, putting two touchdowns on the board.
At the half Kansas held a 35-14 advantage.
The Longhorns opened the second half by driving the length of the field. Casey Thompson's 1-yard touchdown rush made the score 35-21.
The Texas defense couldn't stop the Kansas offense on the ensuing drive. Devin Neal romped 58-yards to the Texas 14-yard line, and two plays later Neal was in the end zone with a 10-yard blast that gave the Jayhawks a 42-21 lead with 8:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams punted on their next possessions, but Texas put up touchdowns on each of its following two drives. Bijan Robinson caught a 25-yard pass from Casey Thompson, and Xavier Worthy had his second score of the evening with a 7-yard pass from Thompson.
Kansas took a 42-35 lead into the start of 4th quarter play and marched the field again. Jalon Daniels extended the lead to 49-35 with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kwamie Lassiter with 8:47 remaining on the game clock.
Texas clawed back and evened the score at 49-49 in regulation thank to Xavier Worthy's third touchdown reception of the game and Marcus Washington's second touchdown of the night.
Headed to overtime, the Longhorns took possession first and quickly put six on the board. Thompson found Marcus Washington again for an eight yard touchdown to give Texas their first lead of the game at 56-49.
Kansas matched the Texas touchdown with a 2-yard rush by Devin Neal to cut the score to 56-55 in favor of Texas. Instead of kicking the field goal to tie, the Jayhawks opted to go for two and converted.
The loss was possibly the worst in program history and leaves Texas scratching its head for answers.
The Longhorns are now 4-6 overall and 2-5 in conference play and will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia next to face the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Texas quarterback Casey Thompson threw for 358 yards and 6 touchdowns and rushed for another
Bijan Robinson carried 14 times for 76 yards, bringing his season total to 1,133 yards. Robinson left the game with an elbow injury
Xavier Worthy hauled in 14 passes for 152 yards and 3 touchdowns
Marcus Washington caught five passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns
Texas had 574 yards of total offense compared to Kansas' 420 yards
This weekend, the Texas high school football playoffs began with a bang as teams across the state embarked on their dreams of eventually reaching AT&T Stadium for the final game of the season. On Thursday, I chose to cover DeSoto's bi-district matchup against Killeen Harker Heights. On the following day, I elected to watch the Temple Wildcats host the Waxahachie Indians. Both matchups were enticing due to an abundance of talent, featuring a handful of Texas targets.
Playoffs Round 1:
Our first matchup of the weekend was stacked with Division 1 talent. For example, on the DeSoto sideline, I was keeping an eye on 2023 four-star wide receiver Johntay Cook and 2024 four-star defensive lineman Caleb Mitchell. Both Cook and Mitchell possess offers from the Longhorns and are among the top recruits in the state. For Harker Heights, I was looking forward to seeing 2023 three-star offensive lineman Jaydon Chatman and 2023 running back Re'Shaun Sanford.
Starting off the scoring action, Eagles senior quarterback Matthew Allen found Johntay Cook in the back of the end zone with a first quarter touchdown pass. On this play, Cook was facing single-man coverage and made the Harker Heights defense pay mightily. In the second quarter, the Eagles duo struck again when Allen found Cook for another touchdown pass on a slant pattern.
On the defensive side of the ball, Caleb Mitchell helped create pressure up front, forcing Knights sophomore quarterback Dylan Plake to get rid of the football early. However, Harker Heights offensive lineman Jaydon Chatman held his own when Mitchell was lined up across from him. Overall, the Mitchell versus Chatman matchup was a pretty entertaining subset of the game. The Harker Heights coaching staff did a decent job of game planning for Mitchell, particularly by avoiding his side of the field with their play calls.
For the Knights on offense, Re'Shaun Sanford showcased a good mixture of speed and strength, even though he is listed at 5'9" and 170 pounds. The junior running back rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Currently, Sanford holds scholarship offers from North Texas, Central Arkansas, Illinois State and Louisiana-Monroe. But, Sanford might very well end up being a recruit to watch as his stock rises, especially when you consider the fact that he rushed for 2,330 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
Despite Sanford's impressive night, the Eagles were simply too dominant for Harker Heights, running away with a 65-28 victory.
Now, we will switch gears and look at the Waxahachie versus Temple matchup. I was very excited to see both teams play at Wildcat Stadium in Temple, in large part due to the fact that I had never seen either of these programs.
Sparking Temple's offense, junior athlete Mikal Harrison-Pilot provided a different look against Waxahachie when he was inserted at quarterback. In fact, Mikal was able to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead just before halftime after scoring a touchdown on a 30-yard quarterback draw. Additionally, Harrison-Pilot was able to make a couple of plays on the ground and through the air, both passing and receiving, illustrating his versatile nature.
Along with a decent offensive performance, the Wildcats defense was even more impressive. One player that caught my eye was senior defensive end Tommy Torres, who stands in at 6'5" and 255 pounds. Torres was making plays at, or near, the line of scrimmage all night and created a tremendous amount of havoc for Indians junior quarterback Roderick Hartsfield Jr.
Unfortunately, Hartsfield was getting banged up left and right and needed multiple injury timeouts throughout the game. However, the junior quarterback showed a lot of heart and left it all on the field. One bright spot for the Indians was Hartfield's rapport with senior tight end Joseph Lankford, who had a handful of catches, including one for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
Despite the effort from Waxahachie, Temple senior running back Samari Howard helped to propel the Wildcats to a 28-14 win thanks to a monstrous game in which he rushed for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns.
To begin, the state of Texas is filled with playmaking talent in the 2023 recruiting cycle. One of these playmakers, DeSoto's Johntay Cook, is definitely someone who would be fun to envision under Steve Sarkisian's offense at Texas. The talented wide receiver currently has 34 offers from schools such as Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma - so the Longhorns have their work cut out for them.
Like I said earlier, I was also looking forward to watching 2024 four-star defensive lineman Caleb Mitchell. As of today, Mitchell holds 11 scholarship offers from schools such as Baylor and Texas A&M. Who was the last defensive lineman that the Longhorns landed from DeSoto? That would be Longhorns freshman defensive lineman Byron Murphy, who was in attendance on the DeSoto sideline. If Mitchell can prove to be as productive of a player as Murphy, he will be a tremendous haul for any college coach.
For Harker Heights, both Jaydon Chatman and Re'Shaun Sanford will be two recruits to monitor over time. Against DeSoto, Chatman welcomed the challenge of lining up across from Mitchell and used his 6'4" and 286 pound frame to his advantage at left tackle. In September, the Longhorns became the first school to offer Chatman. Now, schools such as Baylor and Oklahoma have also jumped into the race for the junior offensive lineman. Chatman's teammate, Re'Shaun Sanford has looked good all season and is certainly deserving of more offers before he graduates in 2023 as well.
Lastly, looking at Temple's athletes, Mikal Harrison-Pilot is the name to know for Longhorns fans. In my opinion, Mikal has the ability to play on either side of the ball, however he predominantly contributes to his team on offense. Moreover, Harrison-Pilot holds 36 college offers and will have no shortage of schools to consider.
The Temple defense has a number of athletes that are worth looking at for college recruiters, however, as I mentioned earlier, the one that stood out on Friday was senior defensive end Tommy Torres. To the best of my knowledge, I do not believe that Torres has received any scholarship offers to this date. As a result, Torres could truly become a diamond in the rough for a college football program in need of some size and athleticism on the defensive line.
After thrashing Houston Baptist University 92-48 in their season opener this week, Texas Basketball (1-0) heads to the Pacific-Northwest to face the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-0). The game will serve as an early season barometer for Chris Beard's team, which consists of several returning players and a slew of highly-coveted portal transfers.
The task will be tall for the Longhorns, as they have never beaten an AP No. 1 team in program history. Texas has never beaten Gonzaga, but came close in 2017 when the two teams went to overtime in Portland. The Bulldogs emerged with the win 76-71.
The basketball season just started and anything can happen, but Beard says his team wins regardless of the final outcome on the scoreboard.
"We’re going to learn so much about ourselves." "It’s exactly what we need early on in the season, to kind of see where we’re at.”
The Longhorns had six players reach double-digits in scoring in Tuesday's win against the Huskies. They also held HBU to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor. Beard spread the minutes around to his players as well, with ten Longhorns averaging at least 14 minutes on the hardwood.
This year marks the second straight year in which Gonzaga begins the season at the top of the rankings. The Bulldogs beat Dixie State 97-63 in their opener last week. Julian Strawther had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Chet Holmgren had 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks. Rasir Bolton added 15 points and Drew Timme chipped in 11. The Bulldogs held Dixie State to 35 percent shooting from the field.
What: Texas Longhorns (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 WCC)
Venue: McCarthy Athletic Center
Location: Spokane, WA
When: Saturday, November 13th, 2021
Time: 9:30 p.m. (CST)
All-Time Series: Gonzaga leads Texas 3-0
Last Meeting: Gonzaga defeated Texas 76-71 OT (11/25/2017 Portland, OR)
Discuss the #5 Texas vs. #1 Gonzaga Game Here
The Texas Longhorns are back home at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night after a bye week and a pair of road games in which they lost to Baylor and Iowa State respectively. Texas is still hopeful for a bowl invitation, but they will need to win two of their last three games in order to become punch their eligibility ticket.
The Jayhawks are struggling, lightly put, winning their first game of the season against South Dakota and losing their next eight games.
Saturday's contest will serve as Veteran's Recognition Day at DKR-TMS which honors and celebrates our nation's armed forces veterans who have served.
The season has largely been a disappointment for the Longhorn players, coaches and fans, but a win at home against the Jayhawks would give the program a taste of what it's like to win again as they close out the season two weeks from now.
What: Texas Longhorns (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) vs Kansas Jayhawks (1-8, 0-6 Big 12)
Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
When: Saturday, November 13th, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. (CST)
On the Call: Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler
All-Time Series: Texas leads Iowa State 16-3
Last Meeting: Texas defeated Kansas 50-48 (10/19/2019 Austin, TX)
Depth Chart: Texas vs Kansas
Inside the 40 Podcast, Kansas Week, featuring former OL JP Urquidez
Scouting Report: Kansas Jayhawks
Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Kansas
Four Things To Watch for as Texas hosts Kansas
Discuss the Texas vs. Kansas Game Here
In advance of the Kansas game at DKR, former Texas offensive lineman JP Urquidez joins co-hosts Mike Murphy (owner, Last Stand Hats) and Mike Hardge (Co-Host-The Sports Grind Ticket 760/AM1300 The Zone) to discuss the chewing out the team took from Bo Davis, leadership in the Texas Football program and the upcoming game against the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Texas Longhorns and Kansas Jayhawks will meet for the 20th time in history on Saturday night and the ninth time at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. Both programs enter the matchup struggling, with Kansas holding a 1-8 overall record with their lone win coming against the South Dakota Coyotes in Week 1. The Longhorns have lost four in a row and need a win against the Jayhawks to bring their bowl berth hopes closer to reality.
The 'Horns and Jayhawks did not play each other last season due to the game being cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.
Will the Longhorns snap their four game slide with a win or will Kansas pull off the upset road win?
Our staff weighs in with their thoughts on the outcome of Saturday's game.
Jameson McCausland (7-2)
This has to be a game where Texas gets back on track. The Longhorns need to dominate Kansas in every aspect and it should be a game where the Texas players get to take out some frustration that has built up over the last month.
If Texas struggles against the Jayhawks or somehow loses this game, it is going to get very ugly. Fortunately, I think this is a game Texas wins comfortably before turning their attention to the final two games of the year as they try to get bowl eligible.
Score Prediction: Texas 42, Kansas 14
Devon Messinger (5-4)
This Saturday, the Longhorns will look to break their losing streak with a win against Kansas. Thankfully for Sarkisian & company, the Jayhawks are last place in the Big 12 and boast an overall record of 1-8. Despite Kansas's record, it should be noted that the Jayhawks were nearly able to upset Oklahoma earlier in the season.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Bean is considered day-to-day for the Jayhawks, after suffering an injury to Kansas State in last week's matchup. However, Bean has only averaged 139.1 passing yards per game so far this season. Now, onto the ground game, freshman running back Devin Neal has been Kansas's leading rusher while averaging just 44.3 yards per game. With all of this said, the Jayhawks still have the ability to at least make things interesting for the Longhorns, especially when you consider Bean's dual-threat ability from the quarterback position.
For Texas, who wants, and has the heart to, perform for the Longhorns? The Longhorns need a leader on the field and Saturday's game should be viewed as an opportunity to audition. As a result, expect to see a little bit more variety, roster-wise, than you might be accustomed to seeing on the field.
Score Prediction: Texas 48, Kansas 13
It’s been a long month for the burnt orange with a four-game losing streak, #MonkeyGate and Bo Davis’ epic rant on the bus after Iowa State. Texas needs two wins in their three remaining games in order to be bowl eligible, and Kansas coming to town is a great place to start. This match-up boils down to one thing for me; the Horns aren’t a good football team, but Kansas is dreadful and one of the worst teams in the FBS. I don’t see any way this is a loss outside of a complete meltdown a la 2016 in Lawrence when Charlie Strong’s squad had six turnovers. If I were a gambling man I may take Kansas and the points, but Texas ends their losing streak on Saturday night.
Score Prediction: Texas 40, Kansas 18
Aaron Carrara (6-3)
Texas needs to win two of its last three games in order to become bowl eligible and losing to Kansas isn't an option. Despite the Longhorns' woes, Kansas is dreadful on the turf, and Saturday should be a win for Sarkisian and Texas. Ideally the team uses the game to get things straightened out on both sides of the ball before making the trip to Morgantown the following week. A win is a win and the Longhorns will take it any way they can, which I see them doing in a big manner.
Score Prediction: Texas 45, Kansas 17
Tristan Larsen (6-3)
Texas has been on a downward spiral for the past few weeks. Despite the fact that Texas in Big-12 play has led for 70% of their snaps, highest in the conference, they can’t seem to close these tough games out. Luckily for them, this week they welcome the Jayhawks to town. While Kansas put up a fight against the undefeated Sooners a while back, they’ve really done nothing noteworthy this year in terms of their record. Kansas is 1-8 with their line win being a 3 point victory against a non-FBS program. While I have loads of respect for Lance Leipold and the job he’s doing at Kansas, his first FBS and Big-12 win will have to wait. While the season has been disappointing for the Longhorn faithful they get back to .500 this week and establish somewhat of a winning culture heading into the end of the year and bowl season. Texas wins easily but fails to cover the massive 30 point spread.
Score Prediction: Texas 45, Kansas 17
Mitch Lovell (5-4)
It’s hard to have much confidence in Texas beating anyone but it’s Kansas. This Kansas team isn’t a complete typical Kansas pushover though. Texas may be down some key guys but should have enough to beat the Jayhawks regardless.
Score Prediction: Texas 35, Kansas 21
1. How Will Texas respond following yet another controversial week?
Following the 30-7 smacking the Longhorns took from Iowa state, Texas found themselves in the news once again. A video released by a Texas player in which defensive line coach Bo Davis ripped into the players gained national attention. Hearing the audio by Davis provided confidence the coaches care and want to bring the Texas program back to where it deserves to be. The problem for years in Austin has been the lack of caring about losing as much as they care about being a football player at Texas. The player who released the video hasn’t been named, but he should be kicked off the team plain and simple. While Saturday's game against Kansas should be a relatively easy win, it will serve as a barometer for Davis' message. The Longhorns need players who love football and will do anything to win.
2. Can the Longhorns find a passing game?
Texas has struggled mightily in the passing game since they were defeated in Dallas by Oklahoma. Whether it’s Hudson Card or Casey Thompson under center, the team needs to find one. Bijan Robinson is a game-time decision and if he doesn’t play, it's even more critical that Texas succeed through the air. While Kansas is still a bad football team, they did manage to shutout Oklahoma for an entire half and hung with them until the end of the game. Steve Sarkisian during his Thursday press conference declined to name a starting quarterback but mentioned that both would play. At this point in the season they aren't in the mix for a conference championship but a bowl game is still on the table if they can win 2 of their last 3 games. Also on the quarterback front, it's highly possible that Sarkisian will be hunting the portal to see what he can find.
3. Will Texas finally be able to stop the run?
It’s the question I’ve been asking frankly all season. Week after week it never fails - the opponent runs for 200 plus on the ground. Kansas averages 138.3 yards per game on the ground and if Texas can’t hold them to under that average then it could spell trouble for the game's outcome. We all thought the defensive line would be a team strength and while it’s certainly not, they should be able to impose their will against the Kansas offensive line. After the world saw their position coach light them up I would expect the line to play with some fire. We will see on Saturday how many players in this program belong at Texas long-term.
4. Can Texas finally win the battle on the headset?
Texas should never lose the coaching battle. Since Week 1 against Louisiana, I’m not sure they have won the coaching advantage one time. The Longhorns can’t ever lose that battle against the Jayhawks, much less a first year head coach in Lance Leipold. If Texas can win the coaching matchup there’s no reason the Longhorns can’t win this game in a big manner.
Texas is in the midst of a 4-game losing streak that has dropped their record below .500 for the first time this season. The good news for the Longhorns is Kansas is coming to town, and they are a very bad football team. The bad news for the Longhorns is their last 2 meetings with the Jayhawks have been very close victories.
The Jayhawks are ranked last in the Big 12 in total offense. Transfer Jason Bean has started every game for the Jayhawks this year at QB but is currently questionable for Saturday's game after suffering an injury against Kansas State last week. Backup QB Miles Kendrick also exited the game after going down, so if Bean is unable to go against the Longhorns they will be forced to turn to Jalon Daniels, who actually played quite a bit in 2020 as a freshman but had planned to take a redshirt this year. Regardless of who starts at QB, the passing attack is not good. As a team, they are completing 57.8% of their passes and have thrown 9 touchdowns compared to 7 interceptions.
The running game hasn't been much better than the passing game for Kansas. They are averaging a lowly 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks 9th in the Big 12. Freshman Devin Neal receives the bulk of the carries and has 505 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year.
The offense as a whole relies heavily on the RPO game to protect a bad offensive line. Kansas will also play some option football and try to put defenders into conflict to generate big plays. The game everyone remembers is the near upset of Oklahoma. In that game, Kansas did a really good job of staying ahead of the chains, chewing clock and utilizing the RPO game early to put the Sooners on their heels. I expect the same type of gameplan this week.
Kansas has not been able to stop anyone on defense all season. They are giving up 7.4 yards per play, ranking dead last in the Big 12. They are the only team in the Big 12 that has allowed over 2,000 yards rushing on the season. The Jayhawks have struggled all season to get push up front and generate a pass rush. Despite the struggles of the Texas offensive line, this is a matchup the Longhorns will have an advantage in when it comes to the trenches.
The backend of the defense hasn't been much better. The Jayhawks are relying heavily on two true freshman at corner and it shows. This will need to be a get right game for the Texas passing attack.
If Texas doesn't put up 35+ points in this matchup, it be a major disappointment.
Kansas isn't good, but who knows what Texas team is going to show up at DKR Saturday night. The Longhorns would be without some key players who exited last weeks game against Iowa State. If Texas comes out slow and allows Kansas hang around for the first half, they will be treated to a nail-baiter similar to the one Oklahoma experienced in Lawrence.
Steve Sarkisian has a lot he needs to fix throughout the Texas program, and a loss or close game against the Kansas would be disastrous.
The Chris Beard era for Texas Basketball officially kicked off on Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center as the #5 Longhorns hosted Houston Baptist University in the season opener for both teams. In front of a crowd of 14,683, Texas dismantled HBU 92-48.
The Huskies led 7-3 a t the 17:36 mark in the first half, but the Longhorns used an 11-0 run to take a 14-7 lead that would never be relinquished. After taking a 43-27 lead into the locker room at the half, Texas opened second half play with a 15-2 run. They continued to put points on the board and extended the lead to 79-39 with approximately 4:00 left on the game clock. Texas reached their biggest lead of the game at 48 points with 1:02 left before the game clock expired and the Longhorns sealed a 92-48 victory.
Beard spread the playing time around as ten Longhorns averaged at least 14 minutes on the court.
Senior guard Courtney Ramey led the Longhorns in scoring with 14 points, and five other Texas players notched double-digit scoring on the night. Senior guard Andrew Jones contributed 11 points and had 5 steals, forward Jaylon Tyson had 11 points, guard Marcus Carr had 10 points and 7 assists, and forward Christian Bishop and center Tre Mitchell each scored 10 points.
The Longhorns shot 64 percent from the floor and went 13-22 from three-point range. The Huskies shot 32.7 percent and finished 16-49 from the floor.
With the win, Texas sealed their 20th straight home season opener.
Texas has no time to rest as they will travel to Spokane, Washington later this week to face the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday at 9:30 PM CST.
Steve Sarkisian is only 9 games into his tenure at Texas, but he has reached a critical crossroads where tough decisions are about to have to be made throughout his program. Sarkisian himself is in no jeopardy of losing his job anytime soon, but the Longhorns currently sit a 4-5 on the season and it is his job to fix what is ailing the Texas program.
The reality is there are 3 key components he will be evaluating throughout the final 3 games (and potential bowl game) and into the offseason as he attempts to set his team up for a successful 2022 season. Let's take a look at those components.
Steve Sarkisian made an interesting comment after Saturday's game when asked about his defense giving up a WR pass for a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Sarkisian said "We told the (players) the exact play that was coming and it worked for them, so that's unfortunate."
For obvious reasons, Sarkisian is not going to throw his players under the bus by saying they are not good enough, but it becoming clear that the Longhorns are severely lacking talent-wise at several key spots. The areas Texas has been struggling at the most (OL, WR, LB), have been the positions Texas has recruited the most inconsistently for years. Many point to the top 10 classes Texas has signed the last 5 years, but the hit rate for the players in those classes has been very low. The lack of production from the 2019 class, which is made up of guys who would be in their 3rd year in the program, is really hurting Texas right now.
So now the question is how is Sarkisian going to fill the roster holes that he has? Texas is set to return every starter on offense outside of Cade Brewer, Tope Imade and Derek Kerstetter, but the Texas defense could lose up to 7 starters. The obvious answer to filling these holes is through the transfer portal. Sarkisian tried to do this when he first arrived in 2021 but most of the transfers he took have been role players. Texas is going to have to attack the portal more aggressively this time around. The Longhorns could realistically be in the market for a quarterback, multiple wide receivers, multiple offensive lineman, a tight end, multiple edge rushers, an inside linebacker, a corner and a safety. It's unlikely Texas will be able to fill all those holes, but the majority need to be addressed.
Texas is also set to sign a big 2022 recruiting class that could have a few prospects ready to contribute as early as next year. The Longhorns have loaded up at defensive line, a spot that has underperformed relative to expectations entering this season. Wide receiver and safety are also spots where you could see some freshman make an impact early.
Finally, Sarkisian has to address the elephant in the room when it comes to personnel and that is the offensive line. The Longhorns have simply not been good all season up front and it is limiting the entire offense. Junior Angilau is the only Texas lineman who seems to consistently be playing at an acceptable level. If Sarkisian and Kyle Flood are unable to find solutions in this position room, it may not matter what other personnel moves are made.
Despite some personnel limitations, Sarkisian has done some good things scheme wise on the offensive side of the ball. Texas has been able to consistently free up receivers down the field and find open space for Bijan Robinson and Xavier Worthy. It's far from perfect, especially considering the inconsistent quarterback play Texas is getting, but it's easy to see the direction the offense could be headed in if a few pieces fall into place. One thing scheme wise that Sarkisian needs to figure out is how Texas is going to attack drop 8 defenses because even if the QB play was improved, it does not appear he has found a solution for attacking defenses that spread the field. Iowa State and Arkansas owned the Texas offense with these schemes and the Longhorns are sure to see more of it in the future.
Defensively, Sarkisian is going to need to ask some tough questions to Pete Kwiatkowski about what the identity of the Texas defense is going to be. Scheme wise, Texas shifted from Kwiatkowski's 2-4-5 defense to a 3-4 about halfway through the season. Neither scheme has produced the desired results. Texas is getting run over in the second half of games. As mentioned earlier, the defensive line was thought to be the strength of the team heading into the year but has been a complete non-factor for a lot of the season. Are all these things scheme related? Personnel related? Coaching related? Fatigue related? These are the questions Sarkisian needs to be asking himself and his staff. The Texas defense has been left out to dry a handful of times this year, but they also seem like a unit that has lacked an identity dating back to the first game of the season. Kwiatkowski has made some adjustments as the year as gone on, but it hasn't worked so far. Is this a sign of things to come or can it be corrected?
The last component Sarkisian will be forced to evaluate ties into the scheme component, and that is the job of his coaches. No one likes to fire coaches or talk about firing coaches, but it is Sarkisian's job to maximize his staff and do what is best for the University of Texas. He will need to evaluate if his position coaches are getting the most out of their players. Do the strengths of this position coach align with what the coordinator wants to do and the scheme we want to deploy? Is this coach a plus recruiter? Is he getting through to his players? Do the players respond to him? These are all questions Sarkisian will be asking himself.
One thing to keep in mind is every member of the defensive staff outside of Jeff Choate was hired before defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. If Sarkisian or Kwiatkowski choose to go in the different direction scheme wise or are unhappy with the play of an individual unit, they will have to ask themselves if the position coach is a good fit for what they are trying to do.
Offensively, Sarkisian handpicked all his assistants, including two holdovers from Tom Herman's staff. Is he satisfied with the job the offensive staff is doing teaching his scheme or does he feel like he can upgrade at certain spots?
Steve Sarkisian is going to be in full evaluation mode the last month of this season and rightfully so. He mentioned during his introductory press conference back in January that he felt the roster he was inheriting had a lot of talented pieces to work with. While that may have been true, he appears to also be discovering some of the limitations he has and will now need to make adjustments on the fly. The adjustments he makes will determine how successful the Texas program will be moving forward under his watch.