Texas Football: 3 major concerns for top 25 matchup vs. Kansas

Quinn Ewers, Texas football
Quinn Ewers, Texas football /
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Quinn Ewers, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Quinn Ewers, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

The ability of Kansas’ front seven to wreak havoc on the opposing team’s backfield

Kansas’ defense is one of the most improved units on this side of the ball in the Big 12 this season. The Jayhawks’ defense was a laughing stock for most of last season, allowing nearly 470 total yards of offense per game and over six yards per play.

This group looks to have turned a corner in a big way this fall. Kansas has shored up its pass defense and is getting to the hats more effectively in run defense. The Jayhawks allow just over 200 passing yards per game and one passing touchdown while intercepting nearly two passes per game.

The Jayhawk run defense is even more impressive early this season, allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game and just over three yards per carry.

One of the biggest reasons this Kansas defense has improved so much year over year is the ability of their front seven to wreak havoc on the opposing team’s backfield. Kansas boasts a trio of edge rushers/defensive ends in redshirt senior transfer Hayden Hatcher, senior Jereme Robinson, and redshirt sophomore Austin Booker that have combined for nearly two dozen quarterback pressures, seven sacks, and 11 tackles for loss this season.

This standout edge rusher trio has helped Kansas rank second in the Big 12 in pressure rate (33.8 percent) and sixth in sack rate (9.7 percent) this season.

Kansas can also generate havoc plays from a group of sure-tacklers that have a nose for finding the ball carrier and laying the lumber at linebacker and safety. Bowling Green redshirt junior linebacker transfer JB Brown and redshirt senior safety Kenny Logan Jr. have combined for 8.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and one interception.

But the most dangerous defender of them all for the Jayhawks when it comes to generating havoc plays is junior cornerback Cobee Bryant. The fourth-year junior is a playmaker at corner that nearly took the head off of a BYU player last weekend, which resulted in a scoop-and-score.

Bryant has seven career interceptions and over a dozen pass breakups during his three years playing for the Jayhawks.

I say all this to say that redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers and the Longhorns could have their hands full with a Kansas defense leading the Big 12 in havoc plays this season if they’re not ready out of the gates. Ewers will face a Kansas defensive front that will try to disrupt his rhythm in the pocket at every turn.

If Ewers can keep his composure and get the ball out of his hands quickly, Texas has the skill players to make this Kansas defense that is weaker in coverage pay. And if Texas can spread out the Kansas defense, that opens up more opportunities to run the ball inside and in the outside zone running game.