Can The Texas Longhorns' Defense Improve Against The Iowa State Cyclones?

By Zach Pugh

The Texas Longhorns‘ defense has been nowhere near the level that was expected by most before the season began and has easily kept the Horns out of the discussion of the Big 12 title race. However, last week, fans saw a glimmer of hope for the unit to help with the positive vibes as the season closes out.

At this point they’re still allowing over six yards per play and give up well over 400 yards a game, but last week they did hold Seth Doege and the Texas Tech Red Raiders to just 22 points. Defensively they still gave up 441 yards, which is actually the second lowest total they’ve allowed in conference play. As bad as that sounds, the defense has been so terrible that it’s become ok to look at small victories.

The Iowa State Cyclones expected to have a good season with bowl eligibility, conference relevance and the foundation for building a yearly bowl program. The season has been good to ISU, but they have slipped lately, loosing three of their last four games and have fallen to 2-4 in the conference.

When Texas has the ball look for David Ash to continue his progression as a great fit in Bryan Harsin‘s scheme. Runningback Johnathan Gray has taken on the work load in the backfield and has performed well. He ran for 106 yards last week against a pretty good Red Raiders run defense. It might be a tough day for the Longhorns on offense. The Cyclones’ defense isn’t necessarily a push over. They held the Collin Klein led Kansas State Wildcats to just 27 points earlier this year and have held every opponent under their scoring average coming into the game against them.

When Iowa State has the ball look for quarterback Steele Jantz to have some success. Jantz put up 381 yards and five touchdowns against the Baylor Bears. The Texas passing defense isn’t much better than the Bears’, ranking 88th nationally in passing efficiency defense. The Cyclones have struggled this season with two quarterbacks who have combined for just 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. ISU’s defense may miss linebacker Jake Knott even more this week when they’re trying to slow down the Texas running game, but LB A.J. Klein has stepped up as the leader on defense with the absence of Knott.

The intrigue for this game starts with the emotion level being extremely high in Austin as the Horns honor Darrell Royal ‘s passing with a special decal and running the first offensive play in the Wishbone formation. The Cyclones will also be fighting to finish above .500 in the conference and the chance to lock in a bowl game slot. Don’t be surprised if this game is close and comes down to the last couple possessions.


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