There's no denying it. The Texas defense is struggling and is still searching for answers as October nears its end. For Kansas, this has to be encouraging in that they've been looking for offensive consistency all year. In the past three games, the Longhorns have surrendered 48, 63 and 50 points.
They're 1-2 in those games with the lone win coming last week against Baylor, where they needed every last bit of their 56 points to come away with the win.
Yardage wise, Texas has been just as generous, giving up an average of 472 yards a game (256 passing 216 rushing). Despite the averages, they have a good young coordinator in Manny Diaz, who's been dealing with his share of criticism, understandably and a ton of talent individually. Like the offense, they are young and play a lot of guys. They'll be looking to take out their frustration after the past several games. That'll be Kansas' primary challenge, but if they if they get rolling, look out.
Out of the nine guys listed on this week's two deep, only one is a senior. At the BUCK end spot, they'll go with either sophomore Cedric Reed (6-6 250) or junior Reggie Wilson (6-3 259). Reed will be getting his first starts against KU. The lone senior is one of the defense's biggest stars in Alex Okefor (6-4 265). He has 34 tackles on the year and leads the team in sacks with seven. The tackles are big. Sophomore Desmond Jackson (6-1 303) will start at nose with junior Chris Whaley (6-3 292) manning the other side.
The linebackers are big and athletic, but have only started a combined 15 games between the three of them. At middle linebacker, sophomore Steve Edmond (6-3 255) leads the team in tackles with 55. He's also forced two fumbles and intercepted one pass. The strongside backer is junior Demarcco Cobbs (6-2 218). On the year, he's made 31 tackles. The weakside backer is sophomore Kendall Thompson (6-3 239), who had his best effort of the year last week according to Diaz. Junior Jordan Hicks (6-2 235), has battled injuries, but will play quite a bit more than likely. Thompson will be a good one though. On the year, he has 38 tackles.
The most experience of this defense can be found in the secondary Cornerbacks Carrington Byndom (6-0 180) and Quandre Diggs (5-10 200) will make their 21st and 19th career starts respectively. Diggs leads the team with three interceptions, while Byndom is just behind him with two. The two have 59 combined tackles. Senior Kenny Vaccaro (6-1 218) is also as good of a free safety as you'll find in the Big 12. He's second on the team in tackles with 53 and has two picks on the season. Saturday will be his 27th career start. Right behind him on tackles is junior strong safety Adrian Phillips (5-11 201) with 45.
The return game features lightning fast speed with Diggs and Jaxon Shipley returning punts and D.J. Monroe, Marquise Goodwin or Daje Johnson and Diggs returning kicks. After last week's special teams performance by the Jayhawks, look for the Horns to try and capitalize to jump start their attack.