The Texas Longhorns will face the San Jose Spartans at 2:30 PM on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. The Longhorns were defeated at home by Maryland 51-41 in the team’s season opener last weekend, and look to move to .500 play by defeating the Spartans. Texas opened initially as 27.5 favorites over San Jose State but uncertainties related to Shane Buechele’s injured shoulder have bobbed the point spread up and down since. The current line on the game shows the Longhorns favored by 25.5.
With the potential for true freshman Sam Ehlinger to see significant playing time due to Buechele’s injury, can the Texas offense move the ball and put points on the board? Can Todd Orlando’s defense avoid the same mistakes they made against the Terrapins and stop the Spartan rush attack?
The HornSports staff give their thoughts and predictions on the outcome of Saturday’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, September 9th, 2017
Time: 2:30 PM CST
Television: Longhorn Network
Venue: Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
Regardless of whether Shane Buechele can play on Saturday, Texas needs to establish the run early and often. Chris Warren needs to have a big game and the offensive line needs to respond after being embarrassed in week 1. Todd Orlando and the defense have to find a way to stop the run, especially with San Jose State starting a freshman QB who can use his legs.
South Florida found out quickly that San Jose State is not afraid of superior completion. The Spartans jumped out to a 16-0 lead very early. If Texas shows some of the same poor fundamentals and mental lapses they showed against Maryland, then the Longhorns will find themselves in a dogfight.
The good news is I expect Texas to be able to move the ball on the ground against a Spartans defense that gave up over 300 yards rushing to South Florida. Tom Herman took the right approach this week by not overreacting. This team has talented football players, and it may take a little while for the light bulb to come on for some of these players. The Longhorns will take care of business on Saturday, before turning their attention to what will await them next weekend in Los Angeles.
Game Prediction: Texas 35, San Jose State 13
Well last week didn’t exactly go according to plan. It didn’t take long for this team to get its first taste of adversity and now we will get to see if they are any better at handling it.
I am going to keep this pretty short this week. I’m even more in wait and see mode this week than I was this time last week given how things played out against Maryland and now with Shane Buechele banged up we may see true freshman Sam Ehlinger get his first start on Saturday.
Texas is favored by four touchdowns over the Spartans. I’m taking SJSU to cover that, but think Texas notches its first win of the season after a letdown last week.
Game Prediction: Texas 34, San Jose State 21
The Tom Herman era did not get off to a great start. After a shocking loss in the season opener to Maryland, the Longhorns look to get back on track as they take on San Jose State in Austin. Many will compare this game to how Charlie Strong and the USF Bulls fared against the Spartans in week 1. The Bulls ended up pulling away late and winning the game by 20 points, but not without some first half issues. In the first quarter, Strong’s team was down 16-0. The Spartans are no slouch of an opponent, meaning Texas cannot be lax coming into this game.
The main storyline coming out of the week involves quarterback play. In the season opener to Maryland, Shane Buechele sustained a shoulder injury to his throwing shoulder – the same one he injured in last year’s matchup with Cal. In the absence of the sophomore at practice, Sam Ehlinger has taken the first team reps this week. Ehlinger is the prototypical QB in Tom Herman’s offense. In fact, when Herman has a QB rush for 50+ yards in a game, he is 28-4. This could be the game where Ehlinger shows the world what he’s made of. Even if Buechele is healthy enough to start the game, expect Ehlinger to get plenty of reps. Tim Beck’s offense must mix it up after a complete bust of a performance last week, in which his unit only scored 20 points against a subpar defense.
The key to this game is whether or not Texas can be disciplined and fix the silly mistakes that were made in their home opener. Can LB’s hit the right gaps? What about defenders getting off blocks? The offensive line being able to make holes and communicate on blitz downs? These are all key questions that must be addressed on Saturday. If the Longhorns can just be disciplined, the rest will take care of itself. Tom Herman knows if his team is not fundamentally sound, they won’t win many games.
Texas opened as 27.5 point favorites heading into this matchup. I do not take San Jose State that lightly. They are a good team that can punch you in the mouth if you aren’t prepared. If I were a betting man, I would take the Spartans to cover. However, I don’t think they’ll win outright. I think Herman will fix some of the glaring issues on both sides of the ball this week and the Longhorns will play disciplined football. The true test comes on September 16 at the Coliseum.
Game Prediction: Texas 34, San Jose State 17
Texas is favored to win by 25, but the Longhorns were favored to win by 18 last week versus lowly Maryland, and we all know how that ended up. Texas starting QB Shane Buechele has been dealing with chronic shoulder issues for a while, but unless Coach Herman deems it serious enough expect the sophomore QB to start. If Sam Ehlinger gets the nod and significant playing
time come Saturday, expect the Longhorns to slow down on offense and not be as potent as when they got things clicking last weekend. But the rushing game will have to fare better than it did against Maryland if the Longhorns hope to not be 0 – 2 heading into the long-anticipated match-up between USC and Texas. That, along with defense which has been outclassed, to say the
least, in the past few years, and special teams, which costed multiple games for Charlie Strong and now even Tom Herman. But as long as the Longhorn offense can produce then Texas should win, 38 – 14.
Game Prediction: Texas 38, San Jose State 14
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele is a game-time decision for the San Jose State game, and true freshman Sam Ehlinger is likely to see significant playing time as a result. Despite the outcome against Maryland, Buechele put up career numbers and had an above-average game. Regardless of which player starts won’t really matter if the offensive line can’t control the line of scrimmage and win the battles in the trenches. The Longhorns need to find a running game and they need to find it fast to ensure success. This is the week for Tim Beck to show that his unit has made the necessary adjustments to move the season forward in a positive manner.
San Jose State will start redshirt sophmore quarterback Montel Aaron, who will lead a a Spartan offense capable of producing yards and long plays. Lightly put, Todd Orlando’s defense was exposed last week against the Terrapins. Missed tackles, blown coverage in the secondary and a porous run-defense headlined the mistakes – something Texas cannot afford to repeat against San Jose State.
After what I saw last week, I’ll defer from commenting on the point spread. Instead I’ll take Texas (and Shane Buechele or Sam Ehlinger, or both) to beat an inferior San Jose State team. Texas will have a slight hangover from the Maryland game and open slow on offense, but they will turn it around in the second half and put significant points on the board. The defense will show progress but will give up three touchdowns.
USC looms next week for the Longhorns in their first away game of the season. Getting the pieces assembled in Saturday’s game is a necessity if the Longhorns want to have any shot at pulling off the upset at the Coliseum.
Game Prediction: Texas 41, San Jose State 21