Texas offensive linemen Calvin Anderson (66) and Patrick Vahe (77) prepares to block against Maryland at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Sept. 1, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Texas vs. Iowa State: Five questions facing the Longhorns

Posted November 16th, 2018

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Five questions facing Texas on Saturday night against Iowa State:

1. Does Texas have to worry about Iowa State’s run game before halftime?

The Cyclones won’t have David Montgomery for the first half; the conference’s second-leading rusher was ejected in the third quarter of last week’s win over Baylor for fighting. Take Montgomery out of the equation and Iowa State running backs are averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Texas has allowed only one 100-yard rusher, but backups like West Virginia’s Martell Pettaway (9-121) and Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard (9-80) have recently had good days against UT.

2. Will someone make the Biletnikoff Award committee think twice?

The Biletnikoff Award narrowed its list of semifinalists down to 11 receivers earlier this week. Four Big 12 standouts made the cut, but Lil’Jordan Humphrey was left out despite leading Texas in receptions (63), receiving yards (947) and touchdown catches (seven). And since he’s scored eight times and is averaging 22.7 yards per catch, Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler also was a debatable omission. Will either of them — or Texas’ Collin Johnson (50-675-5) as well — make the case for a recount?

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3. Will Texas field a healthy secondary?

At the end of last week’s game at Texas Tech, the Longhorns were playing without Davante Davis (ankle and knee), Josh Thompson (ankle), Caden Sterns (head) and Brandon Jones (ankle). On Thursday, UT coach Tom Herman said Thompson won’t play and Jones is questionable this week. Davis, the Big 12’s reigning co-defensive player of the week, and Sterns should return to reinforce a passing defense that ranks 117th nationally (276.2 ypg). UT’s last three opposing quarterbacks have topped 300 yards.

4. Will the offensive line keep Sam Ehlinger upright?

The Longhorns have started only six players this year on the offensive line — Calvin Anderson, Patrick Vahe, Zach Shackelford, Elijah Rodriguez, Samuel Cosmi and Derek Kerstetter. They’ve done a good job of protecting Ehlinger, allowing 1.7 sacks per game. That’s third-best in the Big 12. Ehlinger, however, was sacked a season-high five times by Texas Tech last week. Led by JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State has registered 23 sacks in nine games.

5. Which seniors will stand out in their final home game?

Saturday marks UT’s final home game, so 26 seniors will be recognized beforehand. Which one of those outgoing Longhorns will have the most memorable evening? How about Charles Omenihu, whose 7.5 sacks lead the team? Or tight end Andrew Beck, who’s caught a pass in every game this year, or cornerback Kris Boyd, who’s broken up 13 passes? Perhaps defensive end Breckyn Hager will challenge the 20 tackles compiled by his father, Britt, is his final home game in 1988.

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