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The Texas WRs will be the big difference vs. Kansas State

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Johnson, Humphrey on pace for breakout seasons

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe they should be called big receivers instead of wide receivers.

Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey are big human beings who are on their way to even bigger seasons statistically.

Much has been made of the inability to land the next generational talent at quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. We know the tall tales and truths about Texas’ (botched?) recruitment of future Heisman Trophy winners Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, and Jameis Winston. But the Longhorns quarterback situation is finally becoming more and more cemented with each passing week, which is a relief to most Texas fans considering the recent history at the most important position on the field. The struggle to find consistency at the quarterback position has led to wasted talent, or at least stunted the development of wide receivers.

Whether Ehlinger, who has passed for 978 yards and eight touchdowns, is the next great Texas quarterback is irrelevant — the Longhorns have two wide receivers that look like they’re each on their way to 1,000 receiving yards.

Johnson’s 765 receiving yards in 2017 was the most by a Texas wide receiver since John Harris’ 1,051 yards in 2014, which was the first time a Texas wideout reached that milestone since the departure of Jordan Shipley after the 2009 season.

As it stands right now, Humphrey and Johnson are on track to be the first pair of Longhorns to reach 1,000 receiving yards since Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley did it in 2008. But a closer look at the pair goes deeper than the simple fact that Texas has a capable quarterback. Johnson and Humphrey are both juniors who are (finally) having breakout seasons. In a more ways than one, it’s about time.

Humphrey is 6’4, 225 pounds. Johnson is 6’6, 220 pounds. To say that on any given Saturday these two are on the right side of a massive mismatch is hardly a hot take. The two are massive tasks for most defensive backs, and this year Texas is finally taking advantage of it. The pair is responsible for five of Ehlinger’s eight touchdowns.

Humphrey’s 2018 thus far

Week 1 — 6 rec, 82 yards

Week 2 — 7 rec 109 yards, 1 TD

Week 3 — 4 rec 84 yards, 1 TD

Week 4 — 4 rec, 77 yards, 1 TD

Total: 21 receptions, 352 yards and 3 TD

Johnson’s 2018 thus far

Week 1 — 3 rec, 59 yards, 1 TD

Week 2 — 4 rec, 37 yards

Week 3 — 6 rec, 79 yards

Week 4 — 7 rec, 124 yards, 1 TD

Total: 20 receptions, 299 yards, 2 TD

For context here, Humphrey’s 21 receptions for 352 yards, and three touchdowns this season alone is almost higher than his career total of 37 receptions, 431 yards, and one touchdown.

Johnson is almost halfway to matching his 2017 total of 765 receiving yards.

Each week it’s felt like one of the two has shown up for Texas, making plays and padding the stats. Last week, when Texas knocked off TCU, it was both who had impressive outings against a Horned Frogs defense that was known for its tough defense and strategic schemes, especially in its secondary.

When Texas travels to Manhattan, Kansas this weekend for a chance to grab the program’s first win at Kansas State since 2002, it could be another big day for the Longhorns big wide receivers.

Kansas State’s 2018 preseason All-Big 12 safety Kendall Adams will be out this weekend when the Longhorns come to town. But that is just one of a few big blows the Wildcats secondary has had to endure this season — fellow junior safety Denzel Goolsby is out for the season.

Let’s not forget this is the Purple Wizard, Bill Snyder, and he will have his players ready to go when No. 18 Texas arrives to the Little Apple. But with both of their starting safeties out for Saturday’s contest, that will leave less experienced help over the top for Kansas State, leaving the WIldcats cornerbacks without experienced help, making their task at hand even tougher.

Texas’ offense should look to target Humphrey and Johnson when each is set across from man coverage. Kansas State’s starting cornerbacks, Duke Shelley and A.J. Parker, are 5’9 and 5’11, respectively.

That means Humphrey and Johnson could see matchups against cornerbacks who are almost six inches and 35 pounds smaller. If we don’t see a repeat performance — if not an even better one — from both Johnson and Humphrey, them blame it on Todd Orlando and shout for Ehlinger to be benched for one of the other three Longhorns quarterbacks. Just kidding.

If there is one guarantee from this Longhorns offense this season, it’s the fact that at the very least either Humphrey or Jordan are going to go off and have a big day. Luckily for Texas fans, this weekend presents an opportunity for both to surpass 100 receiving yards for the second straight week.