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 /

Red zone woes

Texas faces one of the best red zone teams in the nation this weekend in a stout Kansas State squad. Kansas State ranks fifth in the nation this season in average points per red zone possession allowed at a clip of 3.6 points.

This Wildcats defense has locked opponents down in the red area this season, especially in pass coverage. Kansas State’s 3-3-5 flyover defense is excellent at holding opposing offenses at bey in pass coverage when the field shortens, and their defensive backs don’t have to rely on speed to avoid getting burned by the receivers they’re matched up against.

Kansas State is one of just three teams in the Power Five this season that have allowed one or fewer passing touchdowns in the red zone.

Texas, meanwhile, ranks outside of the top 100 teams in the FBS in average points per red zone possession on offense this season (4.3). The Longhorns have really struggled to punch the ball in the end zone when they get in the red area, especially in the last few weeks. Texas was stood up at the goal line once against BYU last weekend and on a key drive against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 7.

Part of the issue for the Longhorns in the red zone on offense this season is the inability to run the ball up the middle behind the interior offensive line. A combination of a lack of physicality and the lower-body injury that senior center Jake Majors has been fighting through since the loss to Oklahoma in Red River a few weeks ago has hampered Texas’ ability to run the ball into the end zone.

Texas must find a way to either create explosive plays in the passing game or gash Kansas State with the zone run game to avoid the red zone issues this week. Or, Sarkisian needs to dig deeper into his bag of tricks in the red zone so that the play-calling isn’t as predictable as it has been in the last few games.

"“In the end, the ball’s just got to cross the goal line and we just haven’t done a good enough job. We’ve got to continue to work at that and get that done.”"

Sark simplified the red zone issues for the Longhorns in one of his press conferences this week. Texas needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to get Murphy some easy looks in the red zone against Kansas State or find a way to run the ball better in the red area.

Next. Why Texas can dominate Kansas State in Week 10. dark