Kansas plays its final home game of the season this week against the Texas Longhorns. Because everything is bigger in Texas, there are actually two SB Nation sites that cover the team. I reached out to both of them this week for their perspective on this matchup. First up: Wescott Eberts from Burnt Orange Nation.
RCT: This season has been quite the roller coaster for Texas, hasn’t it? From looking phenomenal out of the gate to falling apart surrounding the Oklahoma game to suddenly jumping up to upset Baylor to a disappointing loss to West Virginia. What is your overall assessment of the season so far?
BON: I think Texas is about where I thought they would be before the season and the team has managed to accomplish one of the major goals -- don’t get blown out. The Notre Dame win probably inflated expectations to a point that wasn’t fair given the team’s youth and new offense, but I think the most disappointing aspects of the season have been Charlie Strong’s game management decisions and the fact he had to demote defensive coordinator Vance Bedford in early October.
RCT: On a related note, there has been a lot of chatter about Charlie Strong being on the hot seat. He seemed on his way out the door until the Baylor game. What does he need to do in order to assure himself another season in Austin? Do you actually want to see him back?
BON: Strong definitely needs to take care of business against Kansas and certainly can’t afford another blowout loss to TCU. If the Longhorns can pull out that game after Thanksgiving, I think he probably returns. If not, things are more questionable, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about what would happen at that point.
I reached a breaking point after the Kansas State game and have since backed off the ledge. Given the cost involved and the hit that recruiting would take, I would prefer for him to do enough to return.
RCT: Which player(s) has been the biggest surprise for the Longhorns this season? The biggest disappointment(s)?
BON: Throughout the summer, the expectations for freshman quarterback Shane Buechele kind of went through the roof, but remarkably enough, he’s pretty much managed to live up to them. No small task for a guy fresh out of high school who skipped his prom this spring.
I think the biggest disappointment would be sophomore cornerback Davante Davis. Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson, the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, is definitely a candidate for that ignominious distinction, but he played well since being benched. Davis, on the other hand, was a preseason All-Big 12 selection and has struggled all season, essentially falling out of the rotation because he’s given up so many big plays.
RCT: Which Longhorn player should we expect to hear a lot about on each side of the ball on Saturday?
BON: Offensively, there’s no question that it is junior running back D’Onta Foreman, who is now an outside Heisman contender after tying Earl Campbell’s school record with 11 straight 100-yard performances. He’s carrying a big load for Texas with sophomore Chris Warren out and has been up to the challenge.
Defensively, the two players to watch are the young, emerging Fox ends -- sophomore Breckyn Hager and freshman Malcolm Roach. They’re the top two pass rushers for Texas and can cause a significant amount of havoc for opposing offenses.
RCT: Prediction Time! How do you see the game playing out? Does Kansas take advantage of the home environment and make the game a lot closer than it should be?
BON: I think Texas has another rare strong road performance and blows out Kansas, as I just don’t think the Jayhawks run defense is good enough to stop Foreman and the Longhorns are starting to play much better defensively.
RCT: What is the longest scoring play and who gets it?
BON: I think Foreman breaks off another long run, a la his 93-yard touchdown last season.
RCT: BONUS - Which would you prefer, a personal chef or personal assistant?
BON: Gonna go with the personal chef here, as I’m trying to expand my cooking ability, but still have a long way to go.
A big thanks to Wescott for helping us out today. Don’t forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well. And check back a little later to catch the Q&A with Barking Carnival.