College football is back! That’s right; the air feels fresher, food tastes better, and people just seem happier in general. Tailgates and road trips are being planned, and the beer will soon be iced down.Time then for a look at the season opener with the Texas preview against Louisiana Tech
Texas Preview Against Louisiana Tech
Texas Longhorn fans are eagerly awaiting what’s in store for this season. Especially given their highest pre-season ranking in nearly a decade at number 10. In 2010, they started the season at #5 and finished at #22 following a dismal 5-7 season. That paved the road for Mack Brown’s eventual exit. Horns fans are optimistic again after two seasons of steady improvement under head coach Tom Herman. That included their first 10-win season in over a decade.
Past Season Openers
This season kicks off Saturday under the lights at Darrel K. Royal Memorial Stadium against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. While the Longhorns are a 20-point favorite, they will not take this game lightly, lest they repeat their mistakes from the past two years’ season openers against Maryland. Texas and Louisiana Tech have never played before, but Texas is 29-8-2 against teams from the state of Louisiana. While Texas has won 17 of their last 20 season openers, they have lost three out of the last four (looking at you Maryland). Louisiana Tech last beat a Power Five school in a season opener in 2008 (Mississippi State).
With Quarterback Sam Ehlinger already receiving some Heimsan mentions and the return of wide receiver powerhouse Collin Johnson, the Texas offense is shaping up to be solid. Strong prospects in running backs Keaontay Ingram and true freshman Jordan Whittington should provide Ehlinger with a more balanced attack. Texas is, however, lacking depth at running back with Daniel Young currently sidelined for several weeks with a high ankle sprain. Freshman third-string quarterback Roschon Johnson has been moved to the backup running back position to fill the gap left by Young.
Louisiana Tech has a strong senior quarterback in J’mar Smith as well as several seasoned receivers. Smith is currently the number four passer in school history. His top target is junior receiver Adrian Hardy, and the pair averages nearly 250 yards per game. This is balanced however, by a weaker offensive line, so Texas should plan to bring their pass rush game.
On the defensive side, Texas lost eight defensive starters going into this year, including three linemen. This gives the defense their largest loss of starters since 2010. Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando has spent the off-season getting his less seasoned players up to the task.. What he lacks on the defensive line could be balanced out by a solid safety group with Brandon Jones and Caden Sterns.
What To Expect
Saturday’s opener should allow Texas to try out changes like putting receiver Devin Duvernay in the slot position or starting Jalen Green at cornerback (Anthony Cook will miss the first half Saturday due to a targeting call against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl). The hope is that Texas will be able to have any potential weaknesses exposed and to fine tune things gearing up for their match-up against LSU the following week. If Texas stays healthy and takes this game seriously, I predict Texas will win at 35-17.