The receiving corps
The Texas receiving core had some critical lapses last week against Kansas State that could have changed the momentum and possibly the outcome of the game. In the third quarter, junior receiver Dorian Leonard dropped a pass on a slant route on 4th and 3.
Down 14 at the time, the dropped pass doomed a Texas drive that was deep in Kansas State territory. Late in the fourth quarter, on 4th and 16 and down 10, freshman quarterback Shane Buechele threw a deep ball into the end zone for junior receiver Armanti Foreman, but the ball went through Foreman’s hands. These were two plays that could have helped Texas turn the tide in the game.
While the Longhorns have lots of talent on the perimeter, the receivers need to be able to make plays like these if Texas is hoping to rebound the rest of the season. Freshman receiver Devin Duvernay scored on an 80-yard touchdown against the Wildcats, making it his third-consecutive game with a touchdown.
But it was Duvernay’s only catch of the game. He, along with other Longhorn wideouts, is very explosive and can beat a defense deep. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert needs to figure out how to get Duvernay the ball more in order to utilize his speed and playmaking ability better.
Texas showed lots of big play ability early in the season, but has been inconsistent since then. The Longhorn receivers will need to start making more plays downfield if Texas is going to save its season.
The defense, part five
Well, so much for a step forward. The Texas defense thought it had solved its problems against Iowa State. Little did it know what Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder had up his sleeve.
The Wildcats mostly dominated the game offensively, controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock. The mismatch was evident from the first series when the Texas defense committed four penalties, three of which were accepted, and watched the Wildcats mercilessly march down the field for a touchdown.
Kansas State had the ball for nearly 17 minutes longer than Texas and had seven more first downs. The Longhorns repeatedly let Kansas State junior quarterback Jesse Ertz scramble from the pocket and pick up crucial first downs to keep drives alive.
Texas faces another mobile quarterback this week against Baylor senior Seth Russell, as well as a dominant Baylor ground game that leads the Big 12 in rushing. It could be another long day for this Texas defensive unit. How this game plays out may be decided early in the first couple of drives, similar to last week. The Texas defense will need to show up prepared and get some stops early to gain some confidence.