AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas cleared several hurdles during the 2018 season on their way back to relevance in the college football world.
The season begins Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium against Louisiana Tech.
The Longhorns certainly added the exclamation point in the Sugar Bowl with a 28-21 win against Georgia. Whether the Bulldogs were down a couple key defensive starters or if they really wanted to be in New Orleans is irrelevant to the hype that is now being placed on the Longhorns.
- Sam Ehlinger “an honorary linebacker” according to Todd Orlando
- Texas WR Collin Johnson finds his voice, embraces leadership role
Texas is back in the top ten of the national polls and have a quarterback that, in 2018, completed one of the best seasons of any Texas passer in program history.
Now, the Longhorns have to get over the hurdle of showing up in the season opener. Texas is 0-2 under coach Tom Herman in the season debut, losing two head-scratchers to the University of Maryland.
This week, the Texas players said they didn’t play with the right mindset against Maryland last year, lacking the right kind of confidence. After winning some big games after the Maryland debacle, the Longhorns believe they’re ready to handle adversity.
Louisiana Tech comes to Austin with some experience on offense with quarterback J’mar Smith and wide receiver Adrian Hardy. Besides those two weapons, the Longhorns match up extremely well against the Bulldogs.
The key will be how much Texas elects to show from its repertoire with a national match up against LSU coming up next weekend. Also, how much can the Longhorns get from their running backs. The preseason wasn’t kind to Texas tailbacks with injuries to Keaontay Ingram, Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson.
Ingram is healthy and practicing along with true freshman Jordan Whittington. Texas might even turn to freshman quarterback Roschon Johnson for a couple snaps at running back in a pinch.
The Longhorns defense has been constantly discussed in the preseason because so many new pieces will have main roles. It’s true that there are eight new starters in the unit, but six expected starters played significant minutes during the 2018 season.
Keep an eye out on the defensive backs. Texas will be breaking in two new starters at cornerback with sophomores Jalen Green and Kobe Boyce. Sophomore defensive back Anthony Cook will miss the first half of Saturday’s game after a targeting call during the Sugar Bowl.
Can Texas put away an opponent? In 2018, the Longhorns played 10 games that were decided by a touchdown or less going 7-3 in those games.
Texas should be able to beat Louisiana Tech and set up a must-watch game next week at home against LSU, but the Longhorns should have beaten Maryland last season.
With more maturity and confidence, the Longhorns won’t let the season opener be a stunner again. The Longhorns are favored to win Saturday night by around three touchdowns by Las Vegas standards.