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No. 7 Texas at Iowa State roundtable: Who needs to step up in place of Jonathon Brooks?

Our staff roundtable answers questions about the fanbase’s temperature and makes predictions.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 7 Texas Longhorns are 9-1 for the first time since 2009 and two wins away from finishing alone atop the Big 12 regular season standings for the first time since 2009. The No. 7 ranking in the College Football Playoff is their highest ranking EVER. Yet, after the win over TCU, it felt almost like a loss to the fanbase. Are they right?

Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - It’s a loaded question, but in short, a win is a win when it comes to this time of year. I get fans are frustrated with this team after seeing them allow three different teams to get back into games that could have been boat races. That’s understandable. But you have to keep things in perspective and understand that this team can still accomplish all the lofty goals they began the season with. Survive and advance is a real mentality at this point in the year. They may not always be pretty, but find a way to win each week and get to Arlington by any means necessary.

Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - As always, I think there’s nuance to the conversation. On one hand, Texas has shown vulnerability and the games have been frustratingly similar than they have been in recent years. A lack of complimentary football, playing to the level of your opponent, and a lack of a killer instinct have been a consistent trend for Texas under Steve Sarkisian. The flip side of that coin is that two years ago, they lost all of those games, last year they lost several of them, this year they’ve only lost one. Do I think Texas can and should be able to close out these games? Yes. Am I having a whole hell of a lot more fun than I was from 2010-2022? Also yes.

Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - They aren’t winning with style points, but they’re winning despite adversity and that’s the sign of a winning program. I’m convinced fans expect a contending season to look like Texas in ‘05 or any Alabama season from ‘09 to ‘20 but Texas isn’t there yet. The team won 5 games in just two years and now here we are, a win away from the most regular-season victories since 2009. That’s good enough for me.

With Jonathon Brooks out for the season, who needs to step the most? Cedric Baxter, Jaydon Blue, or someone else?

Daniel - Baxter is the answer. He’s going to have to put his big boy pants on and run with conviction and better vision with his role expanding. I don’t expect him to fill the shoes of Brooks, as he was looking like an All-American and a Sunday player. But he needs to prove to be more functional as a runner and show that he won’t go down as easy when he gets his opportunities.

Gerald - Honestly, the offensive line. There were some times when Brooks had to make something out of nothing, which he could do due to experience and reps in the trenches. When you have inexperienced running backs like Baxter and Brooks, your job as a lineman is to make it as easy for them as possible so they can acclimate, gain confidence, and make plays more easily, rather than have to press and try to make something happen. Baxter can be a battering ram on the pounding inside zone, while Blue has the wheels to really find creases, make one cut, and get on his horse on the outside zone. If the OL can make the reads easy for them, it makes everyone’s lives better.

Cameron - Quinn Ewers. For Texas to win the Big 12, and even beyond that, it’s going to take excellent quarterback play from Ewers.

It might not feel like it, but the Horns are on a four-game winning streak entering Saturday. Who’s been your MVP(s) during this stretch?

Daniel - Offensive MVP goes to Brooks. He’s been the most consistent player week to week on that side of the ball. On defense, I’m going with T’Vondre Sweat. Nobody has probably made themselves more money than number 93 this year. He’s been dominant and has been an issue for every offensive line that has tried to block him this year.

Gerald - It feels a bit melodramatic to say Jonathon Brooks, but 578 yards of total offense on 90 touches for a 6.44 yards-per-play clip is absolutely insane. Dude was the lifeblood of the offense in so many ways and we have to recognize his contributions.

Cameron - Brooks and the Sweat/Murphy. The latter single-handedly won Texas the game against Kansas State and Brooks has been the reason the Horns have been up big in most of the games.

Will Texas avoid the Saturday night scaries in Ames and win their 10th game of the season?

Daniel (8-2) - I’m going to be nervous about this one until I see how this Texas team comes out early on in the contest. I’m taking Texas in a close one. 28-20 Longhorns. Survive and advance.

Gerald (9-1) - Normally, I feel pretty nervous heading into Saturdays but somehow I am at peace with this one. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but it is what it is. I think when you look at offense and defense, I think Texas has not only the right talent but the right scheme and tendencies to match up well with Iowa State. Finishing drives is something to watch for both teams, but I think there may be an opportunity for Texas’s receivers to make some big plays against the Iowa State defense. I’m going to say 28-17 Texas.

Cameron (7-3) - I can’t get a feel for this team but I’m going to lean on it being close since it’s at night in Ames and things will no doubt get weird. I could see it going either way but can Texas get enough pressure on Rocco Becht to make mistakes? Or will it be the Longhorns shooting themselves in the foot? Texas 27, Iowa State 20