Texas enters 2015 following a 6-7 campaign in 2014 that was characterized by the large number of players first year coach Charlie Strong kicked off the team in an effort to steer the Longhorn program back in the right direction and a number of disappointing performances such as being shut out for the first time since 2004 and a blowout loss in the Texas Bowl to Arkansas. Strong returns in 2015, but only 12 starters return from last year’s team.
Quarterback appears to be a problematic position for Texas in 2015 as the Longhorns look for a solid contribution out of either the athletic but inconsistent Tyrone Swoops or the redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. Texas will also look to create a better rushing attack in 2015, looking to Johnathan Gray to improve on some positive glimpses in 2014 while also looking for Gray to decrease errors (4 fumbles on 146 carries in 2014). Furthermore, the Longhorns will also look for playmakers at wide receiver as only two players return with over 100 receiving yards (one being running back Gray). Experience on the offensive line (52 starts) has the power to improve the line from 2015 after injuries decimated last year’s line, creating a poor offensive line showing in 2014. Texas looks to have more promise on the defensive side on the ball as the defensive line returns depth and experience, featuring defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway. The Longhorns also had one of the best pass defenses in the country in 2014 (11th), and most of the key pieces to maintaining defensive dominance through the air return in 2015.
Texas welcomes Kansas State to Austin following a bye week after the Red River Showdown. Although Texas appears to be moving in a positive direction under Charlie Strong, the Longhorns appear to have too many issues on offense to contend in 2015. Kansas State has the opportunity to avenge a 2013 loss to Texas in Austin, and should be favored to win and improve to 9-3 against Texas since the formation of the Big XII. However, Texas still has the Longhorn pedigree and has the talent to defeat Kansas State.