The Kansas Jayhawks are 4-0 after a 38-27 win over BYU last Saturday. The streak is finally over. The last time the Jayhawks opened a season 4-0 in back-to-back seasons was 1914 and 1915. KU and their fans should be feeling good right now. The team even jumped into the Top 25 after the victory. However, a tough test looms on the horizon with a game coming up this Saturday in Austin, Texas with the Longhorns.
After an absolutely embarrassing loss at home, on Senior Day to Texas last year, the Jayhawks will be out to seek revenge. The year prior, in 2021, Kansas stunned Texas in an overtime thriller. It was Jalon Daniels’ first start for the Jayhawks and he led the team to a 57-56 overtime win on the road. It was one of two wins for the Jayhawks in head coach Lance Leipold’s first season at Kansas. How can the Jayhawks lean more into the 2021 outcome than the 2022 result for the 2023 game against the third-ranked Texas Longhorns?
Letting Jalon Daniels Loose
When the Jayhawks played the Longhorns last year, Jalen Daniels was making his first start since an injury in a Week 5 game against TCU. He was rusty and wasn’t trusting his legs like he had been early in the season. It was noticeable that he wasn’t playing full strength and that he wasn’t fully trusting his abilities in that game.
This year, Leipold needs to let Daniels loose. He is healthy and has looked like the hyped-up preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year that everyone expected to see. If Daniels can get going there is a good chance the Jayhawks go into Austin and pull off the upset.
Attacking the Line of Scrimmage
The Jayhawks need to get after it on both the offensive line and defensive line. If Kansas can open up holes for their deep running back room of Devin Neal, Daniel Hishaw, and Dylan McDuffie, it will open up space for the receivers and passing lanes for Daniels. On the other side, the defense can’t allow Texas to do what it did to the Jayhawks last year and that was run at will. The good news for KU: Bijan Robinson and Rochon Johnson are both playing on Sundays in the NFL now. Meanwhile, Kansas and their defense look improved up front from last year and have a lot of veteran leadership at the linebacker and secondary positions. If the defensive line can cause some issues for the Texas line, this could free up the back half to make some plays and create turnovers.
Winning the Turnover Battle
If you’re going to beat Texas, you’ll need to win the turnover battle. So far this season, the Jayhawks have been pretty good at keeping an edge on turnovers, and it will be even more important against a team that can win at every level. Getting them to make the first mistake and creating some momentum could go a long way toward helping Kansas create the environment for an upset. Last week it was Cobee Bryant and Kenny Logan Jr. who forced turnovers and actually gave Kansas points from the defensive side of the ball. Anything helps in a game of this magnitude and winning the turnover battle or scoring a defensive touchdown could go a long way towards getting the upset.
Using Experience To KU’s Advantage
Kansas has been able to retain a healthy amount of its players over the past two seasons since Leipold became head coach. The amount of players that played in the win last time the Jayhawks won at Texas in 2021 is pretty surprising. You’d recognize at least a dozen names on both sides of the ball and the continuity could play a big role in the outcome of this game. Obviously, Texas has the size and speed differential in their favor, but the Jayhawks are on a roll and have a team that can compete on any given week. The Jayhawks are a 17-point underdog, and after last year’s blowout at home, that makes some sense. However, this is a different team, with different goals at hand. The Longhorns shouldn’t overlook the Jayhawks but with the Red River Rivalry looming the following week, this could be the time for Kansas to jump in and get another upset on the road in Austin before Texas leaves the conference.