MANHATTAN, Kan. – There was already plenty of competition for carries at Texas, where veteran running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have formed a potent one-two combination.
Now, the Longhorns are boasting a three-headed attack.
With the emergence of quarterback Tyrone Swoopes as a dangerous run-pass threat, Texas has a more diversified offense under Charlie Strong. And that's giving Kansas State coach Bill Snyder plenty of reason to worry heading into Saturday's showdown in Manhattan.
"The guy that has really come front and center has been the quarterback," Snyder said while previewing No. 11 Kansas State's game against the Longhorns this week. "You can just see the progress that he has made. He is a talented, talented young guy."
That talent was evident in the Longhorns' 48-45 victory last week over Iowa State, when Swoopes threw for 321 yards and a touchdown while running for 95 yards and another score.
Swoopes was the leading rusher for the Longhorns (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) in the game.
"I told him he outshined us a little bit, so we need to pick it up," said Brown, with a laugh. "I'm definitely happy for him, but we need to catch up."
Meanwhile, Kansas State (5-1, 3-0) features its own run-pass quarterback.
Jake Waters threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns without a pick in last week's win at Oklahoma, and also ran for 51 yards. The senior has thrown for at least 200 yards in every game this season, and twice he's gone over 100 yards on the ground.
"Waters is a hell of a quarterback," the Longhorns' Jeff Swaim said. "He can run well and he can also throw the ball. I think that's one thing he doesn't really get recognition for is he's a really good passer. They're real effective and they do their jobs."
Kansas State is the only school in the Big 12 that has a winning record against Texas, an 8-6 mark that's been bolstered by five wins in the last six meetings.
That fact hasn't escaped Strong, who is in his first season with the Longhorns.
"We haven't done well at all," he said. "This is a road game, and it's one of those games that is all about our focus and our emotion, but it's all about our defense, too. We've got to play great defense. If we're going to go out there and get that game, we've got to play great defense, and it's about playing great defense on the road."
Here are a few things to keep in mind as the Wildcats take on the Longhorns:
PRESSURING JAKE: Texas already has 24 sacks this season, its best rate since 2008. But the Longhorns' front seven will be facing one of the Big 12's best offensive lines.
SPEAKING OF D: The Longhorns may have put up 48 points against Iowa State, but they also gave up 45. Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson hurt them for 345 yards and two TDs through the air, and Aaron Wimberly ran for 110 yards and another score. "We didn't play the way we were supposed to, plain and simple," Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs said. "We'll get it fixed."
LOCKETT HISTORY: Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett needs one receiving touchdown to tie Quincy Morgan for second-most in school history. Lockett would be three behind his father, Kevin Lockett, who still owns the record with 26 touchdown grabs.
PACING BIG 12: The Wildcats are the only team unbeaten in Big 12 play. Their only loss came against then-No. 5 Auburn, a 20-14 defeat in which they missed three field goals. If they have any hope of qualifying for the inaugural college football playoff, they need to handle business the rest of the season. That begins with Saturday's game against Texas.
"It's about not letting our record, or what the media is talking about, or thoughts of winning the Big 12, or the playoffs at the end of the year, get to our head," Kansas State cornerback Morgan Burns said. "Texas is still a good football team, they will be hungry. We have a target on our back right now. We've got to stay focused."