Matchups: Kansas State edges Texas at nearly every position, only Longhorns DBs prevail

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Quarterbacks

It is hard to replace a Heisman finalist, but Bill Snyder has two guys doing it: junior Jake Waters (the arm) and sophomore Daniel Sams (the legs). The two have combined for 659 total yards and five touchdowns in two games since losing to North Dakota State. David Ash (concussion, shoulder) is questionable for Saturday. Case McCoy has proved capable with an exceptional performance against Ole Miss, but missed opportunities on three straight three-and-outs to end the third quarter reveal needs for improvement in awareness and consistency. 

Advantage: Kansas State 

 

Running Backs

John Hubert had his best game of the season against UMass last week, running for 118 yards. Texas is currently giving up 309 rushing yards per game. Sams is also a running threat. The Longhorns used a double tight-end set frequently against Ole Miss that opened up 75 first-half rushing yards for Jonathan Gray. But Gray was held to 16 yards in the second half. Bergeron and Brown combined for just 19 yards on 13 carries and no scores. There have been sparks, but the versatility has been deeply affected by the loss of Daje Johnson. 

Advantage: Kansas State

 

Wide Receivers

Four different players have touchdown catches of at least 40 yards for Kansas State. Junior Tyler Lockett leads the group with 232 yards and one score. Texas senior Mike Davis is questionable after injuring his ankle in the second quarter against Ole Miss. The Longhorns offense will miss Johnson, so Jaxon Shipley will have to carry the group while youngsters Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson must grow up quick.

Advantage: Kansas State

 

Offensive Line

Starters Mason Walters and Josh Cochran both were injured in the loss to Ole Miss. Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle will start in their place if they can’t play. The inability to establish a run game in the second half of last week’s loss to Ole Miss, even with multiple tight ends, doesn’t bode well. Kansas State has only allowed four sacks all year. The Wildcats, who return all five starters on their offensive line, sill be tested by a talented Texas defense, but the Longhorns have only two sacks on the year and have given up an average of 309 rushing yards a game.

Advantage: Kansas State

 

Defensive Line:

It is strange to think of 272 rushing yards allowed as an improvement. But Texas held Ole Miss to 92 rushing yards and forced a fumble and a turnover-on-downs in the first half. 180 rushing yards and 27 unanswered points in the second half overshadowed that performance. Kansas State lost all four starting defensive linemen from last year. Ryan Mueller leads the line with 15 solo tackles and two sacks. DeAndre Roberts has provided a stout presence at defensive tackle with 13 solo tackles. 

Advantage: Kansas State

 

Linebackers

In their second week under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, the Longhorns linebackers should improve. But Texas gave up 272 rushing yards last week and is currently the third-worst rush defense in the country. Senior Blake Slaughter has 27 tackles and two sacks on the year and leads the Kansas State linebackers. The Wildcats allow 170 rushing yards per game. But most Texas linemen may be looking out for junior Tre Walker, who commented during the summer that the Longhorns “laid down a little bit” in last year’s game, saying, “That’s nothing to say about their character. That’s just what they do.” 

Advantage: Kansas State

 

Defensive Backs

Kansas State senior Kip Daily had huge game against Massachusetts (2 INTs, one returned 38 yards for a touchdown). As a team, Texas has two interceptions this year. The Wildcats are giving up 181 passing yards per game (27th in FBS) but haven’t faced a decent quarterback yet. Last week, for the first time in 13 games, Texas did not allow a pass of 19 or more yards. The Longhorns held Bo Wallace to 177 passing yards and two touchdowns while containing Biletnikoff candidate Donte Moncrief to 47 yards and a score. 

Advantage: Texas

 

Special Teams

Texas senior Anthony Fera has been perfect at placekicker, making all three of his field goal attempts, each of which came last week against Ole Miss. Doubling as the punter, Fera averages 44 yards per punt. But the Longhorns had a PAT blocked and gave up a 73-yard punt return touchdown. Without Johnson, Texas has no legitimate return threat. Kansas State senior Jack Cantele has also not missed a field goal try. Senior receiver Tramaine Thompson has 207 return yards on the year, including a 94-yard kick return and 79-yard punt return against UL-Lafayette.

Advantage: Kansas State