This week, the Kansas defense will face a Texas offense that is immensely talented and immensely young. The Longhorns present a number of freshmen and sophomores on their two deep. Although, they are surrendering points and yards defensively, on offense, they can put the both up as well. They'll also play a lot of people on both sides of the ball.
At 5-2 and 2-2 in the Big 12, Texas is averaging 44 points per game and average of 457 yards per game (261 pass, 196 rush). They scored 66 in a win at Ole Miss in September and 56 points last week against Baylor. To beat them, the Jayhawks must prevent Texas from the big play.
Co-coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite, hope to light up the scoreboard, putting pressure on KU to keep pace, which is difficult for anyone, let alone an offense that seeks to control the clock and pound the ball with their dynamic running game. Since arriving from Boise State, Harsin has changed Texas offense by opening things up. They'll do a variety of things from a variety of formations with ample talent that can create mismatches.
A year ago, the Longhorns couldn't decide on a quarterback at times, but this year, it's pretty much just been sophomore David Ash (6-3 223) in charge of the offense. Ash has completed 70.2 % of his passes for 1663 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Unlike, former Texas quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy, Ash isn't being asked to run as much, but he is capable. He only has 77 yards rushing and a touchdown, but his lone score came on a 49 yarder against Wyoming in week 1.
The stars of the Longhorns offense are their running backs. They have as good of a group as anyone in the country. Sophomore Joe Bergeron is a beast (6-1 230) and continues to get better. He's rushed for 418 yards, 14 touchdowns and an average of 4.5 yards per carry. His 19 carries for 117 yards last week was a season high. Behind him comes lighting fast true freshman Jonathan Gray (5-11 207). Gray will also be the quarterback when the Longhorns run their "Wild" formation. Gray's rushed for 316 yards and a touchdown on an average of five yards per carry.
Sophomore Malcolm Brown (6-0 223) may be Texas' most complete back, but has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain against Oklahoma State in Week 4. He's questionable, but could return this week. Senior Jeremy Hills (6-0 205) has primarily been used as a receiver with 12 receptions for 118 yards.
The Longhorns aren't afraid to use guys at different positions. They'll frequently use receivers Daje Johnson (5-10 184), Marquise Johnson (5-9 180) or D.J. Monroe (5-9 175) in the running game. Against Baylor last week, Johnson took The Opening play from scrimmage 84 yards for a touchdown.
The Longhorns have a lot of different receivers, many young and as Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis said at his weekly press conference, they'll play a lot of guys. Junior Mike Davis (6-2 193) leads the way 30 catches for 500 yards and four touchdowns, including a season long 67-yarder against Baylor last week. Sophomore Jaxon Shipley (6-1 192) may be the best route runner with 24 catches for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Marquise Goodwin (5-9 180) is three-time letter winner with world-class speed. His 18 catches have gone for 204 and two touchdowns. In addition to the long run last week, Johnson has 198 yards on 13 receptions and a touchdown. Senior tight end D.J. Grant (6-3 238) has pulled in 12 catches for 119 yards. Redshirt freshman M.J. McFarland (6-6 245) continues to emerge as a new producer in the offense. On the season, he has six catches of 105 yards and a score with a season long reception of 29 yards last week.
The Longhorns offensive line has a wealth of experience on the interior, with some youth on the edges and some changes due to injury. Sophomore Josh Cochran (6-6 299) moves over to left tackle after an injury to junior Donald Hawkins. Senior Luke Pohelmann (6-7 275) will start at right tackle. It will be his fourth start of the year. The guards have a combined 56 starts between them heading into Saturday's game. Junior Trey Hopkins (6-4 301) will start on the left side, with junior Mason Walters (6-6 320) on the right. Sophomore Dominic Espinosa (6-4 298) will start at center and despite his youth, has plenty of experience with 20 career starts.
Penn State transfer Anthony Fera (6-2 220) is finally healthy and has played in three games. True freshmen Nick Rose (6-3 192) and Nick Jordan (6-1 175) are the other kickers with Rose primarily handling kickoffs.