Posted November 13th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Will the Texas defense overwhelm Kansas?

Will the Texas defense overwhelm Kansas?

The Texas Longhorns visit [tag]Kansas[/tag] this Saturday in what could become a classic trap game. They’re on the road, it will be cold, injuries are piling up, and they’re facing an underachieving team. The Jayhawks have struggled this season after shocking the college football world last season. With all the BCS scenarios out there, the only thing Texas can control is how they handle Jayhawks. The last time a favored Longhorn team looking for a BCS berth went to Lawrence they got saved by a questionable pass interference call. Texas won’t get the benefit of refereeing on Saturday, so they must win it with a solid effort.

When Texas has the ball

Texas played a good game last week in the win against [tag]Baylor[/tag] even if it wasn’t as dominating of a performance as some would have liked. Texas quarterback [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] continued his good play by throwing for 300 yards and five touchdown passes. Baylor was able to get into the passing lanes by dropping as many as nine defenders on passing plays. The Bears were able to get their hands on a number of McCoy passes and even were able to intercept three of the attempts on the day.

It doesn’t appear any Big 12 defenses match up with the opposing offenses and Kansas is no different. The only thing that will stop the Longhorn offense is the Longhorn offense. The thing to watch is the offensive line play when Kansas blitzes. Junior [tag]Chris Hall[/tag] is going to miss the game, and with the dismissal of backup [tag]Buck Burnette[/tag] last week, true freshman [tag]David Snow[/tag] will get the start. It will be his first start and it will come on the road. Snow has played a bunch this year, but mostly at guard, and his calls up front will be key for protection. The coaching staff has been very high on the former Gilmer star and he’ll look to show why on Saturday.

On the road in November is where a team needs a running game. It isn’t enough to run the ball when the other team lets you. A great team needs to be able to run the ball when the referees, the fans, and the opposing defense know the run is coming. Texas has yet to be able to do that this year, and it is unlikely that a running game is going to appear. Help has come in the way of [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag], but even the speedy freshman is not going to be the complete answer. With McCoy beat up and unwilling to be the running threat he was early in the year UT will continue to use a stable of backs. If Texas can come out and dominate the line of scrimmage this game will not be close, unfortunately that has been something this team has lacked thus far.

The Longhorn offense will continue to go as McCoy goes. The lack of a consistent running game has put a huge load on the junior’s shoulders. He has responded in every way possible, and he is most likely going to have to do it again in order for UT to keep their national title hopes alive. The Longhorns are only one of five teams in the nation to have two receivers with over 60 catches on the season, and it is likely McCoy will continue to rely heavily on [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] and [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag]. Cosby played last week through an injury and should be able to go again this week. Any help from another receiver would be a bonus.

When Kansas has the ball

The good news is that superstar [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] should be back and ready to go after missing last week’s game because of injury. The bad news is Texas is facing another quarterback that wants to send a statement to the UT coaching staff that they should have recruited him. Texas passed the first test when they spoiled the dream of [tag]Missouri[/tag] quarterback Chase Daniel. The Longhorns face another life long Horn in the form of former Lake Travis star Todd Reesing.

Kansas has struggled protecting Reesing lately, and that figures to play right into the Longhorn defenses strength. In many ways Kansas offers the same set of challenges that the Missouri offense provided. Texas was able to get pressure on Daniel and cause disruption by getting their hands up in the passing lane. The defensive line was able to knock down numerous balls allowing the group to apply pressure because Missouri was in countless third and longs. Reesing is another quarterback under six feet, in fact it is probably the reason he is not wearing burnt orange on Saturday. Will Muschamp’s defense must disrupt the rhythm of Kansas’ offense by making them one dimensional and attacking. The only way Kansas hurts Texas is if the Jayhawks can get enough out of their running game to keep Texas out of pinning their ears back on third down.

On paper it would appear the Longhorn front seven has nothing to worry about when it comes to Kansas’ run game. After a great start the linebacking unit for the Horns has struggled in the last few weeks tackling in space. Kansas does a good job of getting their skill players in space and exploiting the other team’s lack of athleticism. They don’t necessarily line up and run it at you, but they do a good job with screens and dump passes of getting their backs involved. The Longhorns will look to get pressure with four so the linebackers can shadow what the backfield of the Jayhawks tries to do.

The group under the most pressure will be the secondary. Texas has been up and down in the back of their defense, sometimes in the same game, but that is to be expected with such a young group. They have been challenged seemingly every week, and they face another test on Saturday. Kansas is also one of the five teams in the nation with two receivers with over 60 receptions. The group is led by former quarterback Kerry Meier. He is great at running routes and finding holes in the zone. Texas is hoping [tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] is back from injury, but odds are even if he is the defense will look to put a number of bodies on Meier.

The Longhorns need to get some stops early so the offense can put the game away. If Texas can put some distance in between them and the underdog Jayhawks this one will turn into a route.

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