AMES — Texas’ football team has done a good job up to this point of the season mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, their most recent opponent, Kansas, was forced to postpone the game due to not meeting the minimum requirement of players at a position group.
The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12.
Ahead of No. 20 Texas’ game Friday against No. 15 Iowa State (6-2, 6-1), here are five things to know about the Longhorns (5-2, 4-2).
1. Texas is coming off a double bye
Texas had a bye week before the Kansas game and because of the postponement, it is essentially getting a double-bye week.
“There was a great opportunity here to get guys healthy and on a short week, we have an opportunity to get extra prep time,” Texas Coach Tom Herman said. “But we have to be very, very cognizant of the fact we’ll have gone 20 days without playing a football game and that’s never happened to anybody on our staff in the regular season.
“We wanted to make sure that we’re not rusty. We want to stay fresh for Iowa State from a physical standpoint, but we also know we have to get out there and continue to stay ready after not playing for 20 days.”
2. Close games galore
Texas has only played close conference games this season.
All but one Big 12 game have been one-score games and three have gone to overtime. And the one that wasn’t a one-score game was an 11-point win over Baylor.
Texas beat Texas Tech in overtime to begin the conference portion of its schedule, lost to TCU by two and lost to Oklahoma in quadruple overtime.
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After the 11-point Baylor win, it went into overtime again against Oklahoma State and handed the Cowboys their first loss of the season.
Texas’ most recent game was on Nov. 7 against West Virginia, a game the Longhorns won, 17-13.
3. Do-everything QB Sam Ehlinger
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger isn’t just tasked with leading Texas’ offense. He is Texas’ offense.
The senior quarterback is the Longhorns’ leading rusher as well as being a very productive passer.
Ehlinger has rushed for 323 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Accounting for sacks, he’s rushed for 444 yards, averaging six yards per carry.
Texas’ closest running back to Ehlinger in terms of yardage is Bijan Robinson, who has rushed for 294 yards and no touchdowns.
In the passing game, Ehlinger has been just as impressive. He’s completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,834 yards and 22 touchdowns. He’s thrown just five interceptions this season.
“The respect I have for Sam Ehlinger is as great of respect as I have for any quarterback in the country,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said.
4. Eye-spy Assai
It’s actually not too hard to spot Texas linebacker Joseph Assai. He’s the 6-foot-4, 253-pound linebacker making all the plays for the Texas defense.
The junior leads Texas in tackles (49), tackles for loss (13.5), sacks (4) and forced fumbles (3).
The 13.5 tackles for loss leads the Big 12.
To paint a complete picture of his dominance, he also has two pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
5. Iowa State south
The Texas coaching staff has several Iowa State ties.
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Herman was an Iowa State offensive coordinator from 2009-11 and helped orchestrate Iowa State’s win over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State.
Defensive coordinator Chris Ash began his career as a graduate assistant at Iowa State in 2000 and 20001. After that, he became the Cyclones’ defensive backs coach from 2002-06. After a short stint at San Diego State, he returned to Iowa State in 2009 to coach defensive backs again.
Lastly, Texas’ strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight was Iowa State’s strength and conditioning coach from 2009-14.