Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Texas vs. Texas Tech football: 5 questions facing the Longhorns

Five questions facing Texas against Texas Tech on Saturday (11 a.m., ABC):

1. Will multiple running backs contribute to the Longhorns' ground game?

In last week's romp over Rice, Texas rushed for 427 yards. Sophomore star Bijan Robinson had 127 of those yards, and one of his three touchdowns was a 62-yard score. Roschon Johnson picked up 72 of his 112 yards on a long run out of UT's wildcat formation. Keilan Robinson also scored on a 65-yard sprint. Two of the top seven rushing performances in UT's history were recently recorded against Texas Tech — D'Onta Foreman's 341-yard game in 2016 and Chris Warren III's 276-yard effort one year earlier — but will Texas attack the Red Raiders with multiple rushers this weekend?

2. Can Texas make a big play on special teams?

In last year's overtime win over Texas Tech, then-UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for five touchdowns. But while Ehlinger headlined the 63-56 victory, Texas probably wouldn't have left Lubbock with a win if it weren't for the special teams. Jahdae Barron scored on a blocked punt, and Texas recovered an onside kick while rallying in the fourth quarter. In the Longhorns' two wins in 2021, Keilan Robinson has blocked a punt and Keondre Coburn has swatted an extra-point attempt.

Former Manor running back Tahj Brooks is a sophomore at Texas Tech. In three games this season, Brooks has rushed for a team-high 284 yards and four touchdowns.

3. Will the Texas defense force any significant turnovers?

The good news for Texas? It has scored a touchdown after two-thirds of the turnovers it has forced this season. The bad news for Texas? The Longhorns have forced only three turnovers. Safety B.J. Foster is responsible for UT's lone interception, and Jerrin Thompson has both forced and recovered a fumble. Texas Tech has lost three fumbles, and one of quarterback Tyler Shough's two interceptions was returned by Stephen F. Austin for a touchdown.

4. How well will Tahj Brooks perform in his homecoming?

Before Brooks became a starting running back at Texas Tech, he was a standout at Manor High who rushed for more than 2,000 yards during an All-Central Texas campaign in 2019. Brooks returns home this weekend as Texas Tech's leading rusher. Averaging 8.1 yards per carry, he has already recorded two 100-yard performances this season. Texas struggled against the run two weeks ago at Arkansas, but Louisiana's and Rice's runners combined to average just 3.8 yards per attempt against the Longhorns.

5. Will Texas avoid an early slip-up in Big 12 play?

Before the season started, Oklahoma and Iowa State were the top two picks in the Big 12's preseason poll. The conference race, though, might be wide open since Oklahoma looked vulnerable in tight games against Tulane and Nebraska and Iowa State has lost once this month. Can Texas, which was ranked third in the preseason poll, establish itself as a front-runner? The Longhorns first will need to take care of a Texas Tech team that is 3-0 for the first time since 2017. Texas last lost a conference opener in 2016.

Danny Davis