The Jayhawks have a little extra pep this week preparing for the Longhorns (1-2), who come into Lawrence Saturday for a 3 p.m. showdown at Memorial Stadium on Fox Sports 1.
“Obviously this is a big week for our program,” KU coach Charlie Weis said. “Twenty-five percent of our kids are from the state of Texas. It's homecoming. I'm sure there's nothing earth shattering that Texas is looking at as they sit there and study us. They're coming off a bye week, and we're going to have to play really, really well to have a chance.”
While Weis said Texas (1-2) is a team in “transition” with several players suspended or dismissed, including two offensive line starters, the KU coach is quite wary of the Longhorns and first-year head coach Charlie Strong. UT opened the season with a 38-7 victory over North Texas before falling to a tough BYU team, 41-7 and then to No. 12 UCLA, 20-17.
The Longhorns will obviously be hungry to right the ship against KU. UT ranks No. 26 nationally in scoring defense (22.7 ppg), No. 8 in pass defense (140.7 ypg) and No. 6 in sacks (4.33 per game). Senior linebacker Jordan Hicks leads the team in tackles with 28, while the big gun junior defensive lineman Malcom Brown paces Texas with 1.17 sacks per game (tied for No. 14 nationally) and tackles for loss (8).
“It all starts with their defense,” Weis said. “They're stout on defense. There isn't really a glaring weakness. I could talk about the 11 guys and I could talk about several of the backups, too. They have just some dynamic players. ... Malcom Brown I think is one of the best players that I've seen, period. He's big, he's aggressive, he's nasty, he moves well, makes several tackles for loss. He's every bit of three and a quarter and probably runs 4.7. He'll be a high draft choice, and he's a very, very disruptive player.”
On offense, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has taken over for David Ash, who quit football due to multiple concussions. Swoopes has started the last two games, completing 44 of 65 passes for 377 yards. His completion percentage (67.7) ranks No. 19 in the nation and he’s committed just one turnover.
“He's very, very big,” Weis said. “They list him at 6-4, 243. On tape he looks bigger than that when I look at him. I'll wait until I see him in person, but he's a big man, has a very strong arm, and he's mobile.”
Jaxon Shipley (20 catches; No. 5 all time at UT in receptions) and John Harris (19 receptions) lead the team in receiving, while Johnathan Gray (178 yards) and Malcolm Brown (162 yards) pace Texas in rushing.