Special teams will come back to bite Texas eventually this season
Among the biggest concerns for Texas that emerged in the last couple of weeks is the special teams. Texas had issues fielding punts in the Week 4 win on the road over Baylor. Worthy and redshirt senior wide receiver Jordan Whittington each muffed one punt, resulting in two Baylor fumble recoveries, in the win over the Bears on Sep. 23.
Texas was better at fielding punts in the win over Kansas last weekend. Granted, Texas only fair caught two of the six Kansas punts in this game. Four of the punts for the Jayhawks were downed, resulting in a net average of 43 yards per punt, which is a number Jeff Banks and the Longhorns are probably fine with.
The struggles Texas experienced on special teams last weekend were with the field goal kicking game. Junior kicker Bert Auburn missed two field goals against the Jayhawks from 47 and 50 yards. Auburn’s two field goal makes were from within 30 yards.
Auburn has struggled in the field goal kicking game this season, knocking through 9-of-14 attempts (64.3 percent). His field goal percentage is 10th of 14 field goal kickers in the Big 12. And Auburn already has as many field goal misses through five weeks as he did all of last season when he went 21-of-26 (80.8 percent).
On the season, Auburn is just 4-of-8 on field goal attempts of greater than 30 yards.
It was good that these special teams miscues didn’t cost Texas against Baylor and Kansas in the last couple of games. Texas beat up on Baylor enough and Kansas in the second half, where these special teams mistakes served more as learning opportunities than detrimental and costly miscues.
Texas might not be as fortunate to keep coming up on the right side of the win column in games when the special teams have multiple avoidable mistakes. I have a hard time seeing Texas being too confident in Auburn to make game-winning field goals from over 30 or 40 yards in critical contests for the remainder of the season against teams like Oklahoma and the Kansas State Wildcats.
It’s noteworthy that Sark said in his Monday press conference on Oct. 2 that he won’t make a change at kicker. If Auburn’s struggles continue, though, it’s hard not to see second-year kicker Will Stone getting a chance with the field goal unit at some point this fall.