Texas defensive back Kris Boyd (2) recovers a fumble from West Virginia running back Jashawn Banks in the first quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Boyd recovered the fumble for a turnover. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Football

Texas vs. Kansas: Five key matchups

Posted November 18th, 2016

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Here are five key matchups to watch Saturday:

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele prepares for
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele prepares for “The Eyes of Texas” after losing to Kansas State on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SHANE BUECHELE VS. THE KANSAS SECONDARY

Buechele’s last completion against West Virginia — a 20-yard pass to Collin Johnson — gave him the first 300-yard game of his career and Texas’ freshman-season passing record.  Colt McCoy’s 2,570 yards are now in his rearview mirror; Buechele has thrown for 2,575 yards and 20 touchdowns, and now faces a Kansas secondary that has not yet allowed a 300-yard passer. (To be fair, two Texas Tech quarterbacks topped 270 yards on Sept. 29).

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EDGE: Texas

 

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele(7) is sacked causing a fumble and recovering by West Virginia in the third quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele(7) is sacked causing a fumble at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

TEXAS’ OFFENSIVE LINE VS. KANSAS’ PASS RUSHERS

Buechele was sacked four times in last week’s 24-20 loss to West Virginia, and one of those takedowns led to a critical fourth-quarter fumble and temporary fear that the Longhorns’ starting quarterback had been injured. By allowing 2.4 sacks per game, Texas ranks in a tie for 86th in the country. Kansas averages a respectable 2.3 sacks per game, and sophomore Dorance Armstrong Jr. has a team-high eight sacks.

EDGE: Kansas

 

Texas defensive back Kris Boyd (2) recovers a fumble from West Virginia running back Jashawn Banks in the first quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Boyd recovered the fumble for a turnover. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas defensive back Kris Boyd (2) recovers a fumble from West Virginia running back Jashawn Banks in the first quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Boyd recovered the fumble for a turnover. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

TEXAS TURNOVERS VS. THE SCOREBOARD

Texas is allowing 28.3 points per game in the six contests since Charlie Strong took over as defensive coordinator, but the biggest improvement has come in the turnover department. After forcing only one turnover under Vance Bedford’s watch, Texas has 16 takeaways behind Strong. Those 16 turnovers have only led to 24 points, though. Kansas has committed 31 turnovers, so can Texas make the Jayhawks pay for those kind of mistakes?

EDGE: Texas

 

Texass #13 Michael Dickson punts during the first quarter of the Texas vs University of Kansas game Saturday November 7, 2015. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.
Texass #13 Michael Dickson punts during the first quarter of the Texas vs University of Kansas game Saturday November 7, 2015. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

MICHAEL DICKSON VS. KANSAS RETURNERS

If D’Onta Foreman wasn’t contending for a Heisman Trophy,  you could argue that Dickson might be Texas’ MVP. He’s a front-runner for the Ray Guy Award, and the Australian sophomore is averaging 47.8 yards per punt. Fifteen of Dickson’s 49 punts have been fair-caught, and eight have gone for touchbacks. Don’t expect the Jayhawks to return many of his kicks. Kansas has only returned five punts this year, and it has totaled minus-5 yards on those plays.

EDGE: Texas

 

Texas coach Charlie Strong yells at a referee during an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Lubbock, Texas. (Brad Tollefson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)
Texas coach Charlie Strong yells at a referee during an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Lubbock, Texas. (Brad Tollefson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)

STRONG’S HOT SEAT VS. BEATY’S HOT SEAT

Saturday features two coaches whose job security have been the subject of speculation this season. Strong is 16-19 over his three years, while David Beaty has won only once since his hire in December 2014. A youthful Texas team has shown improvement, but a loss to Kansas may force a change. Meanwhile, an upset of the Longhorns would certainly give Beaty a foundation of some sorts in his rebuilding project in Lawrence.

EDGE: Texas

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