If anyone should feel confident inside the Texas football complex this week, it’s UT play-caller Shawn Watson. Since 2000, he’s compiled a personal 8-2 record against Kansas State.
Watson was the offensive coordinator at Colorado from 2000 to 2005. During that time, the Buffaloes went 4-2 against K-State coach Bill Snyder. Those weren’t pushover teams, either. The Wildcats won 11 games in 2000, ’02 and ’03. Snyder “retired” after the team went 5-6 in 2005.
Watson’s Nebraska offenses had some of their best days in modern Husker history against Kansas State, too.
Watson was Nebraska’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2010. During those years, the Huskers steamrolled the Wildcats, a program that had took dramatic steps backward under new coach Ron Prince.
K-State went 5-7 in 2007 and 2008 under Prince. That paved the way for legendary Snyder to return to the program he built from scratch. Snyder’s rebuilding teams suffered losses to Nebraska in 2009 and ’10. By 2011, K-State was a 10-win program again and Watson had moved on to Louisville.
But it’s interesting to go back and look at those four Nebraska wins now.
In 2007, the Huskers had 702 yards, a whopping 519 through the air. Joe Ganz threw for 510 while completing 30 of 40 passes and seven touchdowns. It was a ridiculously easy 73-31 Nebraska win.
In 2008, the Huskers piled up 610 total yards, averaging 7.8 yards per play. Ganz threw for 270 yards and ran for 95 more. Four different players scored rushing touchdowns in a 56-28 blowout.
The 2009 matchup — again, the first under Snyder — was a defensive battle as the two teams traded field goals in the first quarter. Then, Zac Lee threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Mike McNeill in the second quarter. Roy Helu’s 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter clinched the 17-3 win for Big Red. Nebraska had 267 yards that day.
In 2010, Watson unleashed Taylor Martinez, who ran for 241 yards on 15 carries and threw for 128 yards. The Huskers piled up 587 total yards en route to a dominating 48-13 victory.
Do those stats matter today? Not really. But Watson was the architect of all four Big Red victories. Now he’s guiding the Longhorns to Manhattan hoping for similar results.
Watson said Tuesday that UT quarterback Tyrone Swoopes continues to progress.
“He played really well against Oklahoma, and he took another big step this week (against Iowa State),” Watson said. “I think what you see is him playing with a confidence and the things we talked about before, about learning to compete in a game and just let the game come to you and react and play fast, he’s learned to trust that now. That’s what you saw this past week is a more consistent basis.”
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.