28 October 2011
The Longhorn Network is struggling to get on the screens of Texas fans but the Longhorns themselves should not struggle this week facing a Kansas team that has been manhandled this year, especially in conference play. The Jayhawks are 0-4 against Big 12 opponents and have been outscored by an average of more than 30 points per game. Here are some of the matchups to watch in the Horns' contest this week.
Jordan Webb vs. Texas' secondary
This matchup applies especially to Longhorns defensive backs Quandre Diggs, a true freshman, and sophomore Carrington Byndom, whose last two performances have been magnificent as sophomore Adrian Phillips will miss this week's game with a shoulder injury. It's Kansas' defense that is drawing all the criticism. The Jayhawks have been decent offensively this season and Webb is having a nice sophomore season, throwing for more than 1400 yards, 12 touchdowns, and five interceptions. It will be a relief for the Longhorns since they don't have to face a quarterback with the caliber of a Landry Jones or Brandon Weeden, but Webb will challenge them defensively. If Texas' second-team defense takes the field before Kansas' first-team offense leaves it, it will be interesting to see how young defensive backs Leroy Scott, A.J. White, and Josh Turner handle the challenge.
Tim Biere vs. Texas linebackers
None of the teams Texas has played this year have had a noteworthy tight end. The same could be said of the Longhorns, excluding D.J. Grant's three-touchdown outburst against UCLA, as Mack Brown admitted his tight ends have been "inconsistent" this year. But Texas gets their first crack at a productive pass-catching tight end when it faces Kansas' leading receiver, Tim Biere. The senior has caught 24 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown, meaning the Longhorns linebackers may more responsible for holding pass-catchers in check than the secondary. The one most capable of containing receivers is sophomore Jordan Hicks, who will have his hands ful lwith Biere.
Steven Johnson vs. Texas running backs
Johnson has been one of the nation's most prolific tacklers, notching 75 tackles in Kansas' first seven games. He has posted 5.9 solo tackles per game, good for 11th in the country and 2nd in the Big 12 behind only Iowa State's Jake Knott. Texas has had considerbale success running the ball lately as freshman Malcolm Brown improves with each carry and Fozzy Whittaker becomes more and more dynamic, whether he's taking direct snaps or kickoffs. When either hits a hole on offense, look for Johnson to meet them there. If Brown, Whittaker, or any number of running backs that are sure to get carries in what is likely to quickly become a lopsided game want to have a big day on the ground, they'll have to go through Johnson.
Prediction: Look for David Ash, who I expect to get his second straight start, to throw for two touchdowns and not committ any turnovers, Malcolm Brown to run for another 100 yards and score twice himself, and for Texas to beat Kansas, 48-10, in what will be its last easy win of the season.
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