Texas is ranked 15th in the Top 25 despite a defense that's among the worst in the FBS due to injuries and inconsistent performances from mostly unproven backup players.
The Longhorns will look to correct things quickly, beginning Saturday afternoon against host TCU in a key Big 12 Conference dustup at Fort Worth.
Texas (5-2, 3-1) needed 629 yards total offense and a last-second game-winning 33-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker to outlast Kansas 50-48 last week. The Jayhawks amassed 569 yards against a Longhorns' defense that started nine players who were either freshmen or sophomores.
Texas ranks 119th out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, surrendering 469.9 yards per game and 6.42 yards per snap. Both are on pace to shatter the team records for defensive futility.
"Obviously, we know we have got to play better defensively, and everybody associated with that side of the ball -- coaches, players, leaders -- we all get it," Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday. "We're committed to figuring it out, and I think we can and will."
The silver lining on defense is that the Longhorns still are winning and remain in line for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game if they can find some help for their uber-potent offense.
"None of us are okay or satisfied with that defensive performance (against Kansas) just because we won the game," Herman said. "Are we happy to win the game? Absolutely. And at the end of the year that one's going to count just the same as all the other ones do. But we expect to play much, much better, especially defensively."
Texas will have to do so without Caden Sterns, who Herman ruled out for the TCU game as the safety continues his rehab from a knee injury suffered against Oklahoma State. Herman also said safety B.J. Foster has been affected by a lingering shoulder injury and is being monitored in the run-up to Saturday's game.
TCU (3-3, 1-2) has lost two straight games, both on the road, including a 24-17 setback last week at Kansas State. The Horned Frogs lambasted Kansas 51-14 for its only conference win of the season.
Since beating the Jayhawks, TCU has struggled offensively, especially through the air. The Horned Frogs, with freshman quarterback Max Duggan taking the bulk of the snaps, are averaging their fewest yards (202) passing in more than a decade.
Still, TCU coach Gary Patterson is not considering a change at quarterback, saying Monday on the Big 12 Conference coaches' teleconference that Duggan remains the best option to get the offense going in the right direction.
"As far as practice and everything else, he's been the best one of the group," Patterson said of Duggan. "It's pretty simple. We like eating, paying our bills, but at the end of the day, you evaluate the guy you're going to play with that you feel gives you the best chance to win. That's the reason we're playing Max."
Given Texas' defensive woes, the Horned Frogs should be able to get the passing game going on Saturday. The Longhorns have the league's worst-ranked passing defense, allowing 310 yards per game.
"We've got to catch the football," Patterson said. "And Max has just got to relax and go through his motions. He's going to be a really good player."
Texas leads 63-25-1 in a series dating back to 1897. The Longhorns defeated TCU 31-16 last season in Austin to snap a four-game skid against the Horned Frogs.
--Field Level Media