Three & Out with Texas...
• Kansas Jayhawks (2-1) vs. Texas Longhorns (1-2)
3:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
Three and out, with the Texas Longhorns...
You've probably heard a lot about Texas' stout defense already this week, and with good reason. The Longhorns are among the nation's leaders in several defensive categories, with their 13 sacks in three games (4.3 per game) ranking sixth in the country and their 322 yards against total ranking 26th.
Eleven different Longhorns have recorded a sack – compared with just four for Kansas — and defensive tackle Malcom Brown, whom KU coach Charlie Weis called one of the best players he's seen, period, leads the way with 3.5 sacks. Hassan Ridgeway is right there behind Brown with 3 sacks on the season.
This week will mark the Big 12 opener for first-year UT coach Charlie Strong, who took over for Mack Brown in the offseason. Texas is 15-3 in Big 12 openers, with the only losses coming to Oklahoma State in 1997 and Kansas State in both 1998 and 2007. The first of those K-State losses came on the road, while the 2007 setback came in Austin, Texas.
UT is 6-2 all-time in Big 12 openers on the road.
Kansas, meanwhile, is 5-12 all-time in Big 12 openers, including a 3-4 mark in Big 12 openers at home.
It's interesting to note that Strong was one of several names on the hot list for KU back in 2009 when the Jayhawks were looking for a replacement for Mark Mangino.
Then a defensive coordinator at Florida, Strong became one of the nation's hottest names because of the toughness and production shown by his Gator defenses in the SEC.
KU hired Turner Gill and Strong was hired Louisville that same offseason. With the Cardinals, Strong racked up an impressive 37-15 record, while guiding Louisville to four consecutive winning seasons and four consecutive bowl appearances.
After going 7-6 and 7-6 in his first two seasons, Strong won 23 of his final 26 games with the Cardinals, going 11-2 in 2012 and 12-1 in 2013. He was hired by Texas last January after a long and highly publicize search to replace Brown.
Like KU coach Charlie Weis when he took over at Kansas, Strong has endured some bumps and bruises in the early going and dismissed nine players from the team while suspending a few others. Weis said earlier this week that, while a coaching transition always has some similarities, the task that Strong is saddled with is significantly different.
“It's always tough to follow a legend,” Weis said. “When you go to Texas, following Mack Brown, what do you do? Are you going to come in and say, here's all the things Mack Brown was doing wrong? I mean, it's kind of tough to do that. I think that Charlie is doing it his way, and I think he feels comfortable doing it his way, and I believe that he believes that that's the only way to get it done the way he wants to get it done.”
Saturday's meeting will be the 14th all-time between these two programs, with the Longhorns owning an 11-2 advantage.
UT has won 11 straight in the series, a streak that includes every match-up as Big 12 foes and KU's lone victories over UT came in 1901 and 1938.
The Jayhawks had the Longhorns on the ropes two years ago in Lawrence, but a touchdown inside the game's final 20 seconds allowed Texas to escape Lawrence with a victory. It was a cool day in Lawrence that day, but not one anyone other than the Texas football staff would consider overly cold. The Longhorns shipped in their own heated benches for that game and then proceeded to watch James Sims and the Jayhawks run all over them before sneaking out of town with the victory.
In addition to owning a clear advantage in total victories, the Longhorns' average score in games against Kansas has been 43-14, and Texas is 5-2 in games played in Lawrence.