Five questions facing Texas on Saturday night against Kansas:
1. Does Devin Duvernay keep it up in the season’s second half?
With 53 receptions and an average of 8.8 catches per game, Duvernay leads the nation in both statistical categories. (Oregon State’s Isaiah Hodgins has 51 catches in six games). Duvernay is also ahead of the pace that Jordan Shipley had during his school-record 116-catch season in 2019. Thus far, Kansas has boasted an average pass defense but Indiana State’s Dante Hendrix (eight) and West Virginia’s Sam James (six) are the only receivers to record more than five catches against the Jayhawks.
2. Will a fresh face step into the spotlight?
Young safeties like DeMarvion Overshown and Tyler Owens could earn their first starts this weekend. Freshman David Gbenda, who was switched to running back for part of this season, is now listed as the primary back-up for two of the linebacker positions. Freshman cornerback Kenyatta Watson has also been climbing up the depth chart. With injuries mounting on UT’s defense and a blowout expected (Texas is a three-touchdown favorite), will a younger defender see an increase in playing time?
3. Can Texas avoid any miscues in its return game?
To be blunt, Texas has struggled with its returns of punts and kickoffs in 2019. In fact, Texas is the only team in the nation that is averaging negative yardage on punt returns. Additionally, two of the three fumbles lost by Texas have happened on punt returns. When it comes to kickoff returns, D’Shawn Jamison has scored a 98-yard touchdown against Rice. Duvernay, however, also made several questionable decisions on kickoff returns against Oklahoma last week.
4. Will a UT running back rush for 100 yards?
There is a debate about whether sophomore Keaontay Ingram or freshman Roschon Johnson should be the top option in the Texas backfield. Johnson, after all, has run for 216 yards over the past two weeks. That performance has overshadowed the 114-yard game that Ingram had against Oklahoma State before UT’s bye. Allowing 220.8 yards per game, Kansas has one of the nation’s worst run defenses. Since 2011, Texas runners has recorded six 100-yard performances versus KU.
5. How does Texas look in its first quarter after the OU loss?
Since Tom Herman took over ahead of the 2017 season, Texas is 9-2 following a loss. In those bounce-back games, the Longhorns have gotten off to solid starts and averaged 10.5 points in the first quarters. Two years ago, Texas responded to a 24-7 loss at TCU with a 28-point first quarter against the Jayhawks. Texas, which usually defers if it wins the coin toss, is outscoring its opponents 28-20 in this year’s opening quarters, but it has trailed LSU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma following those first frames.