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Stats that matter: Texas vs. Kansas

9/24/2014

Ready for some numbers? It's time for our weekly stat digs, in which we team with ESPN Stats & Information to find the numbers that matter most for the Longhorns and their next opponent. Here are the stats to remember going into Texas' trip to Lawrence, Kansas, to face the 2-1 Jayhawks.

1. 19

Kansas got spanked in its only meeting with a Power 5 conference team this season, a 41-3 loss at Duke. How'd the Blue Devils do it? Well, they went ahead 17-0 in the game's first 10 minutes. When you pounce that quickly, you're typically going to have a good day.

Texas has scored just 7 points in the first quarter this season, and the yardage numbers aren't any better. The one that's most difficult to believe? The Longhorns are averaging 19 rushing yards in the first quarter. While it is important to establish Tyrone Swoopes' rhythm with short passes and tempo, getting the run game rolling early on would make his job much easier. Texas has to find a way to start faster on Saturday.

2. 41 (16)

A storyline that seemed to fall through the cracks last week was Texas losing senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson for the season to a foot injury. Hassan Ridgeway, a freaky 6-foot-4, 307-pound sophomore, will take his place in the lineup. And while Ridgeway has a high ceiling and has turned up his game in recent months, the absence of Jackson is a costly loss.

He provided this defensive line with 41 career games of experience, including 16 starts, and the role he played is consistently underappreciated. As a quality 1-technique defensive tackle, Jackson was a space eater who cleared room for Malcom Brown to shine in Texas' first three games. Ridgeway is a more natural 3-technique, like Brown, who's had to learn a new role during the bye.

Others will chip in, and Vance Bedford hinted that you could see a freshman or two debut this week. I wouldn't be shocked if we see some more three-man fronts, too. Fans have every reason to be excited about Ridgeway and his high potential. But Jackson was a critical cog in this defense, against the run and pass, and his contributions will be missed in ways that might not be obvious right away.

3. Two

Besides its five starters, Texas has just two available backup offensive linemen with playing experience. Darius James has appeared in two games this season and Curtis Riser, who hasn't been suiting up lately, played in four games last year.

We covered this problem a little immediately after the BYU game, but it's worth repeating because this startling lack of depth can't get solved with a bye week. Shawn Watson said the staff is pushing for a youth movement among the second-teamers (true freshmen Elijah Rodriguez, Jake McMillon and Terrell Cuney may need to come along quickly) but right now, they simply don't have many guys they can trust beyond the starting five.

Starting right guard Taylor Doyle is listed as the backup center on the depth chart. James backs up both left and right tackle. Maybe we see more of him against Kansas. But the point? This group absolutely cannot afford another injury to a starter, and they do need Desmond Harrison back and playing at a high level.

Three more to remember

3.46: Had Texas not given up a 58-yard run on UCLA's first play of the second half, its defense would've held the Bruins to 3.46 yards per carry instead of 4.62. It was one bad bust, but contrary to popular belief, Texas' second-half run defense wasn't exactly shoddy.

9-18: Montell Cozart hasn't had an easy time getting the ball to his best receiver, Miami (Ohio) transfer Nick Harwell. They've hooked up on just nine of 18 attempts with no 20-plus yard gains.

4.3: Texas receivers rank last in the Big 12 in yards after catch at 271 yards and 4.3 YAC per reception. Charlie Strong is still looking for a wideout who can turn the short route into the big score.