Two teams looking to stay undefeated early in the Big 12 slate, No. 3 Texas football and the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks, will meet this weekend at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. Texas hosts Kansas for the first ranked game in Big 12 play this season.
It is also the first ranked matchup in the history of this series between the Longhorns and Jayhawks.
Why Texas football can dominate Kansas in Week 5
Texas is coming off a convincing 38-6 win on the road at McLane Stadium in Waco over the Baylor Bears on Sep. 23. The win over Baylor moved Texas’ record on the season to 4-0 (1-0 Big 12).
Kansas is also sporting a record of 4-0 (1-0 Big 12) after a double-digit win at home in Lawrence over the BYU Cougars in the conference opener last weekend.
This is the first of two really important games in Big 12 play back-to-back for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns. Texas obviously doesn’t want to exit the Big 12 having two straight home losses to Kansas.
Plenty of motivating factors and momentum is on the line in this game for Texas and Kansas.
Here’s a look at four reasons why the Longhorns will dominate No. 24 Kansas at DKR on Sep. 30.
Texas has the players to neutralize Kansas’ most problematic players on defense
Texas’ defense matches up well on paper with the Kansas offense. The Texas defensive line is the best Kansas has faced this season. And the strengths of Texas’ secondary bode well for the style of play of the Kansas offense.
The biggest weakness for the Texas secondary in the season’s first four games was defending the deep ball. Baylor got over the top twice for deep ball connections, both times exploiting redshirt junior cornerback Ryan Watts on the boundary. Alabama also got over the top for a deep ball touchdown on senior field safety Jerrin Thompson.
Why the struggles defending the deep ball against Power Five opponents this season don’t bug me as much against Kansas is the inability of quarterback Jalon Daniels and the Jayhawk offense to get over the top consistently. Daniels grades out among the bottom three starting quarterbacks in the Big 12, throwing the deep ball this season. He is just 4-of-11 passing for 126 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception on the deep ball (passes of at least 20 air yards).
Kansas likes to attack you through the air in the short and intermediate passing game. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki and the Jayhawks have some experienced receivers and quality tight ends, namely senior Mason Fairchild; they like to target between five and 15 yards in front of the line of scrimmage.
Most of Kansas’ passing game goes between the numbers on RPO plays. Over three-quarters of Daniels’ completions have come between the numbers this season, where he is completing his passing attempts at a clip north of 83 percent.
But Texas has the players that can neutralize many of the looks Kansas has in the short and intermediate passing game in the middle of the field. Texas has the best middle linebacker in coverage in the Big 12, roaming the middle of the field, senior Jaylan Ford, and the best nickel in the conference in senior DB Jahdae Barron.
Lastly, Texas’ defensive line and rangy linebackers should have the resources necessary to limit the effectiveness of Kansas’ ground game. Upperclassmen running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hinshaw Jr. are averaging around seven yards per carry this season, with the outside zone running game being their primary source of production.
Kansas also likes to run four or five option plays per game to mix up the looks on the ground.
But Texas has a lot of rangy playmakers that have remained disciplined in defending the run up front this season. If Texas stays true to their assignments on defense and doesn’t get drawn in by all the pre-snap motion Kansas runs on offense, the Longhorns will have a good day on defense on Sep. 30
I like Ford and the Texas defense to get the best of the Kansas offense, potentially being the first team to hold the Jayhawks under 30 points this season. Ford had a big pick against Daniels and the Jayhawks last season. This is a great opportunity for Ford to get his third pick of the season and second against Kansas since last year.