AUSTIN (KXAN) — For a moment against Kansas State, the Longhorns were close to having an identity crisis.
Quickly down 14-0 to the Wildcats in the first quarter, the Longhorns looked stunned after two weeks to prepare and not much improvement on defense to show for it. Questions began to creep in to Texas head coach Tom Herman’s mind.
“You start to wonder, are we as good as we think we are? Can we do the things that we had hoped to do, and set out to do during the season,” Herman said Thursday about that first quarter.
In the final 45 minutes, the players showed some heart and some confidence proving that the defense may still have some life left.
“A lot of guys probably can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief like…okay yeah, this is us, this is who we can be. There was a lot of confidence and energy, this week,” Herman said.
Next, the Longhorns head to Iowa State where they’ll need to keep that confidence to stop an Iowa State team that probably feels snake-bitten.
The Texas pass defense must step up against quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar.
Iowa State had plans to reach the Big 12 Championship this season, but after close conference losses, they’ll be settling for the spoiler role. The Cyclones (5-4, 3-3) have lost four games by 11 total points. Their frustrations are likely defined by a one point loss at Oklahoma last week which ended when they couldn’t convert on a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.
Iowa State shouldn’t expect any sympathy from Texas. The Longhorns are still clinging to the idea of making the Big 12 title game. To get to Arlington, the Longhorns need to go on a run in the final month of the season. Another loss would all but end this team’s preseason goal of a conference championship.
The Ames, Iowa crowd will be fired up to see the Longhorns. Although, the temperature isn’t expected to be much different than what the Texas players experienced in practice this week in Austin with highs in the 40s.
Texas has dominated this series with eight wins in the last 10 meetings. Texas won at home last season 24-10 and 17-7 on the road in 2017.
The Longhorns will likely be without receiver Collin Johnson expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury. Freshman running back Jordan Whittington is still working through pain from sports hernia surgery.