Texas Football: 4 reasons why Longhorns can dominate Kansas State

T'Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
T'Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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T’Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
T’Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Kansas State hasn’t faced a defensive line as good as Texas’ this fall

We already mentioned that the strength of Texas’ defense is the defensive line, thanks to the standout duo of Murphy and Sweat. These two have helped the Texas defense emerge as one of the top two or three units on this side of the ball in the Big 12 this fall.

Texas ranks second in the Big 12 in yards allowed per game (328.0) and yards per play (5.0), behind only Iowa State in both categories.

Kansas State hasn’t faced a defensive line duo this good all season. In fact, the Wildcats might not have faced a defense as good as Texas’ this season. According to ESPN, the Mizzou Tigers defense is the best Kansas State has faced this season regarding adjusted defensive efficiency. Mizzou’s defense ranks 22nd in the FBS adjusted defensive efficiency.

All but two of the P5 defenses Kansas State faced this season (Mizzou and Oklahoma State) rank in the bottom half of the Power Five in adjusted defensive efficiency. Texas, meanwhile, ranks sixth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, 16 spots higher than the other best defense Kansas State has seen this fall.

Murphy and Sweat being downright dominant for Texas along the defensive line this season has set this unit apart as the best Pete Kwiatkowski has had in his three years on the 40 as co-DC and defensive play-caller. Never before has PK had the two highest-graded interior defensive linemen in the conference on the same team in the same season until this year with Sweat (No. 1 in the Big 12) and Murphy (No. 2).

There is one factor in this game that could limit the potency of both Murphy and Sweat in Texas’ efforts to beat Kansas State at the line of scrimmage. That one factor is senior All-American left guard Cooper Beebe.

Beebe is arguably the best offensive guard in college football. He is a ferocious run blocker who can climb multiple levels as a run blocking and pancake defenders in the open field. Beebe is also reliable in pass pro as the highest-graded pass blocker among starting interior offensive linemen in the Big 12 this season.

The problem for Kansas State is that the rest of the interior offensive line doesn’t hold up in pass pro or run blocking compared to Beebe. Kansas State’s other two starting interior offensive linemen, redshirt senior center Hayden Gillum and junior right guard Hadley Panzer, grade out as above to below-average IOLs compared to the rest of the Big 12.

Theoretically, Beebe only neutralizes one of the defensive line duo of Sweat and Murphy. That still leaves one of them to wreck shop against Kansas State at the line of scrimmage or to effectively take up double teams and allow the EDGEs and LBs to collapse on the ball carrier or get to the quarterback with some delayed inside blitzes.

And if Kansas State tries to avoid running the ball at these Texas DLs by getting the ball out quickly on passing plays, it looks like Texas is in the best situation it has been all season covering the underneath stuff. Senior nickel Jahdae Barron looked great last week in coverage against BYU after suffering an injury in the week of the Houston game.

Junior sam linebacker Morice Blackwell also had the most productive and explosive game of his collegiate career on defense against BYU, with a career-high three defensive stops and -2 receiving yards allowed on two targets. Texas getting Blackwell back and healthy at linebacker alongside senior mike Jaylan Ford and true freshman Anthony Hill Jr. makes the Longhorns look much more formidable contesting space at LB.

Next. 3 problematic Kansas State players vs. Texas. dark