Central Michigan

QB

Advantage: Texas

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes has done nothing to justify last season’s murmurs of a potential “Vince Young 2.0,” but he has avoided the head-scratching mistakes and arm strength questions that plagued Case McCoy last season. 

Sophomore Montell Cozart has struggled mightily. Against Central Michigan last week, he completed more than half of his passes for just the first time in six career starts.

RB

Advantage: Kansas

The Kansas backs have been underwhelming of late, but freshman Corey Avery and junior De’Andre Mann are averaging 4.6 and 6.1 yards per carry, respectively.

Texas needed junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown to carry them to victory against UCLA; they did not. Neither back has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game this season.

WR

Advantage: Texas

This was supposed to be Texas’ worst offensive unit, but senior John Harris looks like a legitimate No. 1, and junior speedster Marcus Johnson is slowly working his way back into the offense. 

Only two Kansas receivers have compiled at least 100 total yards through three games, but head coach Charlie Weis has pointed to his quarterback as the source of some of the poor numbers.

OL

Advantage: Texas

Texas’ offensive line received yet another blow this week when tackle Kennedy Estelle’s suspension turned into a dismissal. The offensive line has struggled to surge ahead of its running backs recently, but pass protection has held up well.

Kansas beat Central Michigan last week without redshirt junior tackle Damon Martin and senior guard Mike Smithburg. In their absence, the Jayhawks ran for 138 yards, but more than half of that total came on one carry.

DL

Advantage: Texas

The one strength of the Texas run defense was its ability to stop runs between the tackles, but the loss of senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson allowed UCLA to run up the middle with ease.

The Kansas defensive line allowed 297, 180 and 178 rushing yards in its first three games, respectively, and redshirt junior Ben Goodman is the only Jayhawk defensive lineman to have recorded a sack through three games.

LB

Advantage: Texas

The Texas linebackers looked much better against UCLA. This unit can finally pin its ears back and rush the passer now that they’re done with dual threat quarterbacks — BYU’s Taysom Hill and UCLA’s
Brett Hundley.

Senior Ben Heeney is the rock in the middle of the Kansas defense. Heeney has recorded over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons. In last week’s contest against Central Michigan, he made seven solo tackles, including two for a loss, and forced a fumble.

DB

Advantage: Kansas

Kansas’ pass defense, led by senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd, has twice held its opponents to less than 200 passing yards. The Longhorns’ short passing offense could play perfectly into the Jayhawks’ hands.

The defensive backs have done a decent job preventing big plays, but junior cornerback Duke Thomas got torched for the long, deciding touchdown against the Bruins, and the unit failed to record an interception for the first time this season.

ST

Advantage: Kansas

The Jayhawks are a mere 4-8 on field goal attempts, but Shepherd is a dangerous kick returner. Junior Isaiah Johnson and senior Nick Harwell combine to average a very solid 17.33 yards per punt return.

Junior placekicker Nick Rose has been shaky on field goals, the return game has yielded nothing, a long punt return led to UCLA’s game-winning touchdown and the Longhorns even managed to botch a coin toss that may have cost them the game against the Bruins.