There’s some saying about a day late and a dollar short, but give me a break, things have been hectic around here. However, time cares not for my troubles, as it continues to march onward and count down the days until Les Miles coaches his first game for the Kansas Jayhawks.
So, with (approximately) seven weeks to go, we take a look at the seventh opponent for KU in 2019, the
mighty Longhorns of Texas. Which, of course, means we have to ask - and answer - the question: Is Texas Back?
I’ll actually answer that question with a question: Has Texas gone somewhere? They haven’t won the Big 12 since 2009, and have won just three conference titles in 22 years. Since 1980 (39 seasons), Texas has seven conference titles, and one of those was given to them by the NCAA after the team that actually finished in first place was hit with sanctions (1994).
That’s uh... not really that impressive for a “football school.” I’m not really sure you can claim you’re “back” if you haven’t been consistently great since before I was born (and I’m older than you probably think I am).
So sure. Texas is back. Back to playing football I guess. Which, by the way, they lost to Kansas in a few years ago, and almost lost again last year. So... yeah. @ me all you want. In the meantime, I’ve got a preview to write.
Kansas @ Texas
October 19, 2019: Time TBD
Austin, TX: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119)
Did you know UT’s stadium was named after an OU grad? Well... now you know.
About the UT Offense
Texas returns just 57% of its offensive production from 2018, but you’ll have to read more “Is Texas Back?” articles primarily because of the returning quarterback, junior Sam Ehlinger. Ehlinger is going to be hailed as one of the best RPO-QBs in college football this preseason. To be honest, its not an unfair assessment, as Ehlinger completed over 65% of his passes last season with a 25/5 TD/INT ratio to go along with nearly 500 rushing yards and 16 rush TDs.
Last year’s leading rusher is gone, but RB Keaontay Ingram split reps with Tre Watson last year, so UT shouldn’t miss much there. Also, UT returns its second-leading receiver in Collin Johnson, who had nearly 1,000 yards, so don’t look for much dropoff there either. As we all know, Texas’ recruiting classes are bananas, so they’ll have talent everywhere.
About the UT Defense
The Longhorns return just 40% of their defensive production from last year. Out of UT’s top six tacklers from 2018, only DB Brandon Jones returns (and he was fourth on the team with 48 tackles). UT also loses its top two sack masters and its INT leader from last season. In fact, it looks like Texas returns just two defensive starters. Unfortunately, UT will have to pick through a myriad of four and five-star talent to see who will start on defense in 2019.
The AP and coaches polls have been overrating Texas in the preseason for approximately four decades now. (Maryland, cough cough.) However, Bill Connelly did a pre-spring S&P+ ranking back in February of all 130 teams and has Texas at #35, or 4th in the Big 12.
Meanwhile, Athlon also ranked all 130 teams in pre-spring as well in March, and has the Longhorns at #6. Yes, you read that right, a top-10 team. I’m sure the AP and coaches polls will follow suit due to a big Sugar Bowl win this past January (which makes no sense to me, but I digress).
For reference, the Jayhawks were ranked #107 by S&P+ and #106 by Athlon.
Even Athlon admits that Texas returns just two starters on defense from last year. No doubt the media will be high on the Longhorns returning their QB off a 10-win season and Sugar Bowl win, but this upcoming season seems to have “Texas is overrated” all over it.
That said, it’s unlikely that the Jayhawks will be able to waltz into Austin and be competitive for four quarters, especially considering the scholarship situation. Even though Texas often doesn’t play to its recruiting rankings or preseason rankings (seven conference titles in 40 years, anyone?), they still recruit at a top-10 level, and it’s still UT’s four and five-star players against KU’s two and three-star players. If Pooka can have another OU-type game, obviously the Jayhawks could give UT a run for it, but predicting such a thing would be considered what the kids these days call a “hot taek.”
By this point in the season, Texas should know what they’re doing on defense. That said, UT also frequently plays down to its competition, although I’m sure their fans would say their competition plays up for Texas. Anyway, I think the game won’t be in doubt early, but maybe the Jayhawks can score a few times to not make it a total washout. Texas 45, Kansas 28