The Texas Longhorns will attempt to do something that hasn’t been done since 2002 — win at Kansas State.
The two meet at 11 a.m. Oct. 22 on ESPN2.
Texas (3-3, 1-2) understands the task it faces, coach Charlie Strong said.
“So we know this, that in order for us to go win a game, we’re going to have to play one of our best games that we’ve played all season,” he said. “You look at them on offense, they do a really good job. They have a two-quarterback system, do a great job of just protecting the football, and they don’t turn it over very much.”
KSU coach Bill Synder anticipates that quarterback Jesse Ertz, who hurt his shoulder during the 38-17 loss to Oklahoma last week, will play against the Longhorns. Ertz missed the second half against the Sooners.
Ertz has completed 59 passes for 756 yards and five touchdowns and has 54 carries for 293 yards and four scores. The other quarterback is Jake Hubener, who has 20 passes for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Running back Charles Jones has 64 carries for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats (3-3, 1-2), however, are led by their defense that is ranked No. 2 overall in the conference. It allows 344 yards of total offense. Linebacker Elijah Lee is third in the league with 8.5 tackles a game. Defensive end Jordan Willis has six sacks and 9 tackles for loss on the season to lead the Big 12 in both categories.
“On defense very sound, and another stingy defense, doesn’t give up many points or yards,” Strong said.
He noted that Bryon Pringle is leading the conference in kick return yards, averaging 32 a contest.
The big key, Strong said, is matching KSU’s discipline. The Wildcats are known for not making mistakes that kill drives or allow their opponent to get an easy score. That means the Longhorns can’t get penalties that end drives or that allow KSU to continue their drives, the coach said.
“That’s what we can’t have is the penalties,” he said. “We’ve just got to play smart, and we can’t give up the big play.”
Strong said the key to calling defensive plays is in the preparation. The defense is divided into three parts and telling the linemen, linebackers and secondary the game plan and what’s expected out of each. It also helped that players were supplied with a wristband that matched their coach’s.
“You don’t have to have a lot, you just need to make sure that we keep our guys where they’re just so involved, and they fit — it’s not so much you get much of a change, but it’s more or less where they just feel like there’s just a different enthusiasm, where it’s a different energy,” he said.
Defensive end Breckyn Hager said he liked the wristbands and acknowledged it made playing easier because it means less thinking and more simply doing his job.
Texas defensive tackle Jordan Elliott will miss the game, while starting center Zach Shackelford is considered day-to-day.
Running back D’Onta Foreman continues to lead the Big 12 in rushing with 146.2 per contest.
While the Longhorns are undefeated at home, they have yet to win a road game. Strong acknowledged that.
“We always just talk about packing your defense; the defense has to come alive, and we just need to go from the start,” he said. “We need to just — if you don’t give up the big plays and if you just don’t let their crowd into the game, then you’re going to be able to get those stops.”