4 reasons why Texas football can dominate K-State in Manhattan

Bijan Robinson, Texas Football (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Bijan Robinson, Texas Football (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /
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Moro Ojomo, Texas Football
Moro Ojomo, Texas Football /

The biggest road test of the season so far arrives for head coach Steve Sarkisian and Texas football under the lights at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan on Nov. 5 against the No. 13 ranked Kansas State Wildcats. Head coach Chris Klieman and Kansas State have looked really good in the last couple of weeks, at least when junior quarterback Will Howard was in the game.

Texas comes into this matchup against Kansas State sporting a record of 5-3 (3-2 Big 12) following a tough seven-point loss to head coach Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road in Stillwater on Oct. 22. The loss to Oklahoma State snapped a three-game winning streak for the Longhorns.

Yet, Texas is coming out of a bye week heading into this contest against the Wildcats. That should help as Texas looks to get the road game monkey off its back this weekend.

Meanwhile, Kansas State comes into this game sporting a record of 6-2 (4-1 Big 12) following its dismantling of the Pokes in Manhattan on Oct. 29, by the final score of 48-0. That was one of the most shocking scores in all of college football last weekend.

Why Bijan Robinson and Texas football can convincingly topple Kansas State in Week 10

Despite the massive win over Oklahoma State last weekend, Kansas State is still somehow the underdog heading into this matchup against the Longhorns. With that in mind, here’s a look at four reasons why the Longhorns could dominate Kansas State in Week 10.

Texas’ defensive line has the advantage over Kansas State’s O-Line on standard downs

Before I start talking about how Texas’ defensive line has an edge over Kansas State in the trenches on standard downs, let’s take a look at what a standard down is defined as in the first place.

A standard down is any of the following:

  • 1st and 10 or fewer
  • 2nd and 7 or fewer
  • 3rd and 4 or fewer
  • 4th and 4 or fewer

Standard downs are essentially used as the measurement for what could constitute a successful play. And Kansas State’s offensive line isn’t super proficient on standard downs, especially blocking for the run.

According to Football Outsiders, Kansas State ranks 69th in the FBS in standard down line (2.65) yards and 125th in power success rate (42.9 percent). Meanwhile, Texas’ defense ranks 18th in the FBS in standard down line yards (2.28) and 31st in power success rate (60.9 percent).

That does not bode well for a Kansas State team that relies on the ground game being able to keep the offense balanced. Kansas State obviously relies heavily on star running back Deuce Vaughn.

Vaughn is actually the highest-usage running back in the Big 12, granted the margin between him and star junior Texas running back Bijan Robinson is very slim. The total usage for Vaughn sits at 34.8 percent, while Bijan’s sits at 34.5 percent (good for second in the Big 12 among running backs).

Where Vaughn tends to find the most success running the ball is on first and second downs, also through the A-gap. But this is where the aforementioned strength of the Texas defense lies. Vaughn will be running straight into the teeth of the Texas interior defensive line in guys like seniors Moro Ojomo, Keondre Coburn, and T’Vondre Sweat.

A metric that does a nice job of illustrating Texas’ success in shutting down run plays is the defensive rushing play success rate. According to College Football Data, Texas ranks seventh in the FBS in defensive rushing play success rate, at 32.8 percent. That means that Texas is allowing fewer successful rushing plays on defense than the following defenses:

  • Georgia: 33.5
  • Kentucky: 33.9
  • Michigan: 37.1
  • Baylor: 38.7
  • Alabama: 38.9

Essentially, if Texas can limit the successful running plays on standard downs on first and second, that will put Kansas State in a bind on third and fourth. That could also greatly diminish the impact that Vaughn can have on the ground game, as he’s only utilized on 20.8 percent of third-down plays. That’s less than half the usage rate Vaughn has on first downs (42.7).

It will also be big for some of the highest-graded interior defensive linemen in the Big 12, such as Coburn and Ojomo, to get some pressure up the middle if Will Howard is the starting quarterback. I don’t believe that will play as much of a factor, though, if Adrian Martinez returns as Kansas State’s starter this weekend.

Granted, we’ll get more into the quarterback matchups in this game later in the article.

Moreover, the problem that Texas must face in this game is getting off the field on third down. While Kansas State’s offense does struggle in terms of third down conversion rate, Texas is doing much better in terms of opponent third down efficiency.

This is where Ojomo and the Longhorns must get some key stops in the trenches. If Texas can hold Kansas State to even under a 30 percent conversion rate on third and fourth downs in this game, that would be considered a success.

That would also give the Texas offense enough possessions to get the job done in a tough road environment in Manhattan.