This Saturday, the Kansas State football team will travel to Austin, Texas, where they will take on the Longhorns. During their last meeting, Texas fell to K-State 24-21. Currently, neither Texas or K-State is ranked.
The Daily Texan’s sports editor, Michael Shapiro, caught up with the Collegian’s editor-in-chief and sports editor, DeAundra Allen, to talk about Saturday’s game. To look further into the game, Shapiro talked about the new head coach, the freshman running back and holding up to standards.
DeAundra: What are the major differences you’ve seen comparing coaches Tom Herman and Charlie Strong, both offensively and defensively?
Michael: Through four weeks, Herman has scrubbed the litany of mental errors that plagued the Longhorns under Charlie Strong. From blocked kicks to untimely penalties, Strong’s tenure was marred by critical errors late in games. So far under Herman, Texas has remained calm under pressure, playing its best football in key moments.
On the X’s and O’s side, Herman’s offense is very similar to the one he employed as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State and the head coach at Houston. The Longhorns use their quarterbacks in the run game, paired with a downhill, power running game. Quarterback Shane Buechele throws a nice deep ball, but he hasn’t let if fly often in Herman’s offense.
Defensively, the Longhorns take after defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. They aren’t afraid to bring pressure at the quarterback, placing high priority on forcing turnovers. Texas is susceptible to allowing big plays in the secondary, but Orlando will take a big play or two if his defense can generate some turnovers.
DeAundra: Running back Toneil Carter has been talked about due to his speed and versatility within the game. What do you think about him? What makes him so hard to stop? What stands out about him?
Michael: Carter didn’t see much playing time in the season’s opening three weeks before a relative breakout against Iowa State, but he should see more playing time moving forward. He’s Texas’ most impressive back in the passing game, and he’s shown some burst through the hole running the ball.
The freshman still has some work to do in pass protection, but he’s a versatile piece of Texas’ attack, capable of making defenders miss in space. I envision Texas splitting Carter out wide on Saturday, as well as targeting him out of the backfield.
DeAundra: During the K-State football press conference on Tuesday, coach Snyder talked about your defense and how you will be “the best defensive football team that we will face up to this point.” What do you think about that statement? How will the team hold up to Snyder’s expectations?
Michael: Since Texas’ week-one flop against Maryland – a game in which the Longhorns surrendered 51 points – Herman’s defense has been stout, allowing just 34 points in three games. The burnt orange gave USC quarterback Sam Darnold fits in Southern California, and Iowa State’s Jacob Park found little breathing room last week.
The Longhorn defense many expected under Charlie Strong has shined under Herman and Orlando. The Longhorns bring a slew of exotic pressures, and excel at forcing turnovers. Texas has seven interceptions in four games. I expect Jesse Ertz and Co. to keep it on the ground for much of Saturday’s contest, but when he drops back to pass, look out for the Longhorns’ opportunistic defense.
DeAundra: Who is one player people may not talk about, but should?
Michael: Don’t overlook punter Michael Dickson. The junior from Sydney, Australia is a master at flipping the field and pinning opponents deep in their own territory, and he may just be the Longhorns’ best player.
Dickson was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year in 2016, and hasn’t slowed a bit this year. He’s averaging over 45 yards per punt, including four of 50+ yards last week vs. Iowa State. In what projects to be a defensive battle, Dickson could be the key on Saturday.
DeAundra: What is your prediction for the game?
Michael: It’s always hard to bet against Bill Snyder, who went 2–1 against Charlie Strong, but this is a stout Texas defense that seems to have really found something under Orlando. Give me the Longhorns in a tight one, 23-20.
Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter at @mshap2. The Wildcats and Longhorns are set to kickoff this Saturday at 6 p.m. in Austin.