I understand a lot has happened this season and there are many reasons why Texas may or may not make a bowl game this season. However, with two games remaining and needing to win one of them, one player stands out to me as needing to step up: cornerback Kris Boyd.
For the casual followers of the Longhorns, I’ll tell you why he is more important now than he has been all year. Holton Hill was recently suspended for the rest of the season for a violation of team rules. Hill has been the best player on the Texas defense and has even been thought of as a potential first round NFL draft pick if he leaves school after the season as a junior. Unless you follow games closely, you may not have even heard of Hill, simply because opposing teams don’t throw the ball in his direction much. He’s been that good.
Now Kris Boyd has slid over into Hill’s role as the number one cornerback. Boyd has had a solid year, but he’s good for at least one blown coverage a game, and potentially a personal foul for a late hit or pass interference flag. There’s a lot of good and bad with Boyd, but now that he’s replacing Hill, there needs to be a lot more good.
Positive signs were not there against Kansas, who put up 27 points and over 350 yards of offense against a Texas defense that has been stout all season for the most part. The two remaining teams on the schedule, West Virginia and Texas Tech, have a lot better offenses than Kansas.
We all know Texas isn’t going to be able to win either of their upcoming games if they get into a shootout. They just aren’t equipped to score 30+ points against any team with an average defense. We are halfway through November and we still don’t know who’s going to start at quarterback any given week. That’s how bad things are.
Boyd hasn’t shown the ability to be a lockdown cornerback like Hill was. And with other key injuries to the Texas secondary, it doesn’t bode well for the defense to be able to shut down their remaining opponents like they’ve done other teams this season.
I expect the defense to be able to hang around with West Virginia and Texas Tech regardless, but the absence of Hill could prove to be the difference. Teams will now be more willing to throw to their primary receiver since Boyd can be exposed more easily than Hill could. The main thing with Boyd is he absolutely cannot give up the big play or have a critical penalty at a crucial time in the game.
So when you’re watching the game on Saturday, keep an eye out for #2 playing defense for the burnt orange and white. If you hear Boyd’s name called for positive things, Texas has a chance to win out. But if you hear similar things that have been said all season about Boyd getting flagged or blowing coverages, Texas could get shut out of a bowl for a third straight year.