MANHATTAN, Kan. (KXAN) — The Longhorns are trying to stop the distractions. Kansas State is trying to stop the bleeding. Both teams in Saturday’s 11 a.m. game between the Longhorns and Wildcats can heal nagging issues with a win.
Texas coach Tom Herman always asks his players to block out the noise from outside the program. There’s been a tidal wave of sound surrounding his program this week.
Two team captains, Sam Cosmi and Caden Sterns, opted out of the remainder of the season to focus on their pro football futures. Running back Keaontay Ingram joined the list of opt outs to focus on his health. Meanwhile, the Longhorns fanbase is calling for Herman’s job after a season during a global pandemic hasn’t met its expectations.
Kansas State hasn’t won a game since Oct. 24 after starting the season with four straight Big 12 wins, including an upset of OU in Norman. Texas is usually the cure for Kansas State’s problems when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. In their last trip to Kansas State, 2018, the Longhorns snapped a five-game losing streak in Manhattan.
Overall, the Wildcats and Longhorns are even in their series at 10 wins a piece. However, Texas has won five of the last seven meetings against Kansas State.
In his Monday press conference, Herman was only interested in talking about Kansas State. During his 30-minute session with the media, he was peppered with questions about his future and the fate of the program, but declined to take the bait.
“I’m going to focus on Kansas State and the opportunity to go 1-0. We’ll evaluate the things that we did poorly and go back to work to fix those things in the offseason,” Herman said when asked why the season hasn’t gone as he planned.
The Longhorns still have a chance to go 7-3 during an unprecedented season and send senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger off with a decent finish. They’ll be facing Kansas State’s back-up quarterback, who took over when Skyler Thompson suffered a season-ending injury in a win against Texas Tech in October. Will Howard is 2-4 in six starts as Thompson’s replacement.
Texas will have to respond after seeing its Big 12 championship opportunity slip away against Iowa State last week on Senior Day. The Longhorns held the lead against Iowa State for all but 4:56 of the game. Poor late game decisions from the sideline and Ehlinger caused the 23-20 collapse with Cameron Dicker’s 57-yard field goal attempt going just wide of the uprights as time expired.
It was a sour ending to the Longhorns’ season at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. Perhaps, the season and potentially more within the program can be saved with a win at Kansas State and at Kansas in the regular season finale next week.