Texas Football: 3 major concerns for the Longhorns vs. Kansas State

Maalik Murphy, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Maalik Murphy, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Steve Sarkisian, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Among the biggest challenges of the regular season for No. 7 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian comes at home at the friendly confines of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4 against the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats. Texas will battle head coach Chris Klieman and Kansas State with a shot to get one step closer to securing a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.

A win over Kansas State would also keep the Longhorns’ chances alive for a berth in the College Football Playoff this year.

No. 7 Texas football faces a tough opponent in Week 10 at home vs. No. 23 Kansas State

Texas and Kansas State are two of the five teams that sit in a tie for first place in the Big 12 standings in Week 10. The other three are the No. 21 Kansas Jayhawks, No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys, and Iowa State Cyclones.

Each of these five teams has a record of 4-1 in Big 12 play.

Here are three major concerns for the Longhorns heading into the Week 10 Big 12 battle at home at DKR against Kansas State on Nov. 4.

Turnovers that can keep Texas’ defense on the field for too long vs. Kansas State

Minimizing turnovers is a major key to Kansas State’s success in its six wins this season. Kansas State is 6-0 this season when it wins the turnover battle. But the Wildcats are 0-2 with losses to Oklahoma State and the Mizzou Tigers when it doesn’t win the turnover battle.

Winning the turnover battle allows the Wildcats to have more time on offense to wear down opposing defensive fronts with their vaunted ground attack that ranks among the best in the Big 12 this season. Kansas State can control the clock with its ground game behind two solid running backs and two dual-threat quarterbacks in its two-QB system.

According to TeamRankings, Kansas State ranks 12th in the FBS No. 2 in the Big 12 in time of possession percentage (54.6 percent). Kansas State averages nearly 33 minutes in time of possession per game.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy must take good care of the football out of the gates so Texas keeps Kansas State’s offense on the sidelines as much as possible early on. Murphy showed good command in Texas’ win over the BYU Cougars at home last weekend after a couple of early turnovers.

BYU turned Murphy over twice (one fumble and one interception) in the first 20 minutes of the game. But Murphy was solid for the rest of the game, as he didn’t turn the ball over in the final 40 minutes while tossing two touchdowns to junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell.

Murphy must take care of the football against another experienced defense capable of generating multiple turnovers per game in Kansas State if the Longhorns want a shot at winning this one.