How much can we read into Texas football’s win over Kansas?
Texas football did what it was supposed to do, beat Kansas. The Longhorns rolled up 598 yards of total offense and Jerrod Heard had a great day throwing the ball.
But what can we take from this game? Did Texas show improvement after a dismal effort against Iowa State, or was it a case of the team pummeling a bad Kansas squad?
The answer is, both.
Fans got to see Heard stretch the field, something that had been missing from the offense for several weeks. He opened the game with an 84-yard bomb to John Burt to get Texas on the scoreboard. That pass play alone was one yard shy of what Heard and Tyrone Swoopes combined for last week.
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The running attack generated 320 yards, paced by D’Onta Foreman’s 157-yard effort. Foreman had an incredible 93-yard touchdown run as he weaved his way through the Jayhawk defense before outrunning everyone to the end zone. Swoopes scored four touchdowns on the ground and passed for another. The Longhorn offense had its way with the Kansas defense.
The defense was opportunistic, forcing four turnovers. Dylan Haines picked up his fourth interception of the season. DeShon Elliott had the first two interceptions of his career. There were a lot of freshmen playing in the back end of the defense Saturday. Clearly the future is now.
For Charlie Strong, it was a much-needed win following the fiasco in Ames.
“Last week we don’t release the ball and Jerrod knew he needed to make the throws and we don’t take advantage of what they gave us Strong said. “And then you look at tonight. First play of the game we open it up and just throw the deep one, and just lay it out there. Because the thing about John Burt, he can make plays. Just lay it out to him and he will go get it and run it down.
“But just watching us make the plays and watch the quarterback, it starts with the quarterback. If the quarterback has a good night, then we’re going to get the good result that is we have tonight.”
Still, how do you measure progress when your opponent came into the game 0-8? This is a bad Kansas team. The Jayhawks have given up 58 or more points to the opposition in four of the last five games. Texas should have destroyed this team.
Early on Kansas was threatening to make this a competitive contest. Ahead 24-14 in the second quarter, Heard was sacked and fumbled. The Jayhawks recovered the ball at the Texas 7-yard line. An average team would have capitalized on the turnover and cut the lead to 24-21 or even 24-17. Kansas failed on four tries, including three cracks at the end zone from the Texas 2-yard line. The Longhorns made a nice goal line stand, so maybe we will count this as progress.
The Jayhawks weren’t done making the faithful at DKR a little uneasy in their seats.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, Kansas got the ball back at the Texas 42 and drove down to the seven yard line before missing a chip shot 26-yard field goal to end the first half. It was that close from being a tie ballgame, or even Texas trailing at the half.
The first half effort had Strong a little frustrated at halftime.
“I told them at halftime is that they were playing harder than we were. The thing we can’t do is we can’t allow that to happen. We are a more talented team and we should come out the second half and go dominate the game.”
The second half was better, but the numbers show a defense with a lot of work to do.
The Jayhawks rolled up 426 yards of total offense. Kansas had more first downs, although this stat could be misleading since Texas scored on a number of big plays. It wasn’t a lockdown performance from the defense. Kansas shot itself in the foot with the turnovers and missed scoring chances inside the Texas 10-yard line.
West Virginia is up next. The Mountaineers are a more competent team than Kansas, and Morgantown will not be a kind environment for this young Texas team. Did we see this team take the next step, or simply beat up on an inferior foe?
We’ll find out on Saturday.