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Texas vs. Kansas State: Five questions facing the Longhorns

Texas defensive back B.J. Foster (25) drops a possible interception thrown by Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer on Oct. 24, 2020 in Austin.

Five questions facing the Longhorns at Kansas State on Saturday:

1. Will the Texas secondary miss junior safety Caden Sterns?

Sterns cut short his college career on Monday when he announced that he would opt out of UT’s remaining games and start focusing on his preparation for the NFL Draft. A team captain and seven-time starter this fall, Sterns is currently tied for second among the Longhorns with his 52 tackles. B.J. Foster, who like Sterns was a five-star signee in the 2018 recruiting cycle, is now atop the depth chart at the free safety position. Junior Montrell Estell and freshman Jerrin Thompson could also see playing time.

2. Now that he’s UT’s leading receiver, will Brennan Eagles take flight?

Thanks to a 78-yard catch on the season’s first snap, Joshua Moore quickly emerged as Texas’ top target in 2020. Moore, however, has been held to one catch over his last two games, and he has exceeded two receptions only once since the season’s second contest. While Moore has slipped, Eagles’ stock has soared recently. Eagles is coming off a five-catch, 142-yard game against Iowa State, and he now leads UT in receptions (24) and receiving yards (428). Those 142 yards were a career-high for Eagles.

3. Can Texas keep Kansas State TE Briley Moore in check?

In last week’s 23-20 loss to Iowa State — a defeat that effectively eliminated Texas from contention for the Big 12’s title — Texas struggled to cover the Cyclones’ tight ends. Charlie Kolar fueled Iowa State with his six catches and 131 receiving yards, and Dylan Soehner turned his five receptions into 69 yards. Kansas State has a big-bodied target of its own. The 6-4, 250-pound Moore, who started his college career at Northern Iowa, is tied with running back Deuce Vaughn for Kansas State’s lead in receptions (21).

4. Does Cameron Dicker’s leg have a bigger impact as a kicker or punter?

Dicker got a chance to punt, pass and kick last week. Dicker hit a 21- and 42-yard field goal, but his 58-yard attempt just missed as time expired in the three-point loss. Dicker also completed a 5-yard pass on a trick play and averaged 40.5 yards over two punts in his first game as Ryan Bujcevski’s replacement. How Dicker punts and fares against Phillip Brooks, who has scored on three punt returns over Kansas State’s last 10 games, could be a key to UT’s success.

5. Are the Longhorns and Wildcats due for drama?

Recent history suggests that a nailbiter will be in the cards for the Longhorns and Wildcats. Texas has beaten Kansas State three straight times, but the last four games in this series have been decided by six points or less. The most-lopsided score during that stretch was a 40-34 game that Texas won in double overtime in 2017. Last year, Dicker lifted Texas to a 27-24 triumph with a 26-yard field goal as time expired.