The Texas Longhorns have not started 2013 the way Mack Brown expected. Throughout the offseason, Brown talked about his confidence in the Longhorns' talent and ability to make another run at a national championship.
But here we are in Week 4 of the season and the Longhorns are 1-2 for the first time since 1998—Brown's first season coaching at Texas.
The majority of the blame for Texas' poor start falls on the coaches, but a close second is the Longhorns defense. Over the last two weeks, the defense has given up an average of 411 rushing yards and 42 points against opponents the Longhorns were favored to beat.
The defense is attempting to learn a new scheme under defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who replaced Manny Diaz the Sunday following Texas' loss to BYU.
However, expecting a major transformation after one week in Robinson's scheme is wishful thinking. The issues on defense could take weeks or even months to fix.
If the Longhorns want to compete against Big 12 opponents, the offense will need to carry the team.
Last season, the Texas defense was the worst statistical defense in school history, giving up 192 rushing yards and 29 points per game. The offense pulled through to help Texas stay in and win the majority of the Longhorns' nine wins.
The same will likely be asked of the offense this season.
That task will not be easy this week, though, when Texas hosts Kansas State.
According to Chris Hummer of The Dallas Morning News, quarterback David Ash (shoulder) and wide receiver Mike Davis (ankle) are questionable for the game while offensive linemen Josh Cochran (shoulder) and Mason Walters (knee) are listed as day-to-day.
Wide receiver Daje Johnson (ankle) is out for the second straight week.
If David Ash is not cleared for Saturday's game, Texas will be forced to rely on backup quarterback Case McCoy. McCoy started against Kansas State in 2012 and threw two interceptions that led to 14 of the Wildcats' 42 points.
This season, Kansas State is not as experienced as it was last year, but the amount of talent on the roster never seems to matter when it faces Texas.
K-State has Mack Brown's number—Brown has not beaten Kansas State since 2003 and holds a 2-7 record against the Wildcats.
On Monday, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said the offense feels the pressure when the Texas defense is not doing well.
"We saw some guys do things they wouldn't normally do," Applewhite said of the team's offensive playmakers. "[The offensive players] made some decisions to try to help the team, but it ended up being a mistake that put the offense behind the chains."
In order for the Longhorns to beat Kansas State, Texas' offense has to outscore the Wildcats and not focus on how the defense is performing.
Kansas State is averaging 35.3 points per game compared to Texas' 33.3 points.
Texas has faced more difficult nonconference opponents than Kansas State, but with the Longhorns' history against the Wildcats and Ash listed as day-to-day, Texas has to bring its A-game Saturday night without expecting some of its best offensive players to be in the starting lineup.
It will not be an easy win, but this game could show us whether or not the Longhorns have truly bought in to the team and are prepared to change the momentum for the remainder of the season.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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