Five questions facing Texas on Saturday against Kansas State:
1. Can Brennan Eagles make up for last game’s suspension?
The last time we saw Eagles, the sophomore receiver was stranded on a sideline in Fort Worth because of a suspension for missing a team practice. Texas certainly missed his big-play abilities in a 37-27 loss to TCU. In that game, Devin Duvernay was the only Longhorn with a gain of more than 30 yards. Eagles’ average of 19.3 yards per catch leads the Longhorns and he has covered 186 yards over his five scores. This year, Kansas State has allowed a FBS-low four passing touchdowns.
2. Which Longhorn makes the most noise in his return from the injury report?
At the beginning of the week, UT coach Tom Herman listed defensive backs B.J. Foster and Caden Sterns as probable for the Kansas State game. It was announced that running back Jordan Whittington was also practicing. Foster (hamstring, shoulder) and Sterns (knee) have missed a total of seven games in 2019. A sports hernia has sidelined Whittington since the season’s first week. If they play, will any of those players make a difference?
3. Will Texas keep Skylar Thompson out of the end zone?
Thompson, a junior, has thrown for seven touchdowns but it has been his 10 scoring runs that have been worth noticing. Among FBS-level quarterbacks, Thompson ranks fourth in touchdown runs. Navy’s Malcolm Perry has run for 16 touchdowns, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts has 13 and Justin McMillan has scored 12 times for Tulane. Opposing quarterbacks have run for four touchdowns against Texas, and both Hurts and Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders topped 100 rushing yards.
4. How will special teams fare with a new punter?
Punting has been neither a problem or highlight for Texas as Ryan Bujcevski’s 41.4 yards per punt ranks in the middle of Big 12’s pack. But Bujcevski (broken clavicle) is now on the shelf. Junior Chris Naggar will likely take over, although starting kicker Cameron Dicker remains an option. Naggar walked onto the football season in 2016, but he didn’t earn his first on-field appearance until this year. Once an all-state punter at Arlington High, Naggar did get off a 54-yard kick against TCU.
5. Will the Longhorns knock off a ranked team?
Vegas has listed Texas as the favorite in this game, but the Longhorns aren’t the ranked team in this match-up. Kansas State is the 20th team listed in this week’s AP poll, and Texas is 0-2 against ranked teams this season. (The Longhorns dropped 45-38 and 34-27 decision to LSU and Oklahoma teams that were both ranked sixth). Last season, Texas went 5-2 against ranked teams. During Tom Herman’s first season in Austin, the Longhorns were 1-4 in those games.