Year three of the Tom Herman era at Texas kicks off on Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium as the #10 Texas Longhorns host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. After finishing last season with a 10-4 record (7-2, Big 12), including a 28-21 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, expectations are high in Austin for the 2019 season.
Louisiana Tech finished 2018 with an 8-5 record (5-3, Conference USA) and capped the season with a 31-14 win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. Saturday’s meeting marks the first between the two programs, but the Longhorns have enjoyed success against teams from the state of Louisiana, boasting a lifetime record of 29-8-2. Herman has yet to win a season-opener as head coach of the Longhorns, which means fans and critics alike will be paying close attention to the team’s performance on Saturday.
What: Texas Longhorns (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0 C-USA)
When: Saturday, August 31, 2019
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Venue: Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
The Line: Texas -20.5
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Head Coach: Skip Holtz
Head Coaching Experience: 16th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Louisiana Tech: 6
Career Record: 134-104
Career Record at Louisiana Tech: 46-33
Head Coach: Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas: 3
Career Record: 39-14
Career Record at Texas: 17-10
Get the Season-Opening Monkey off Tom Herman’s Back
Since arriving on the 40 Acres Tom Herman has hammered into his players’ heads the “1-0” mentality. Each week is a new season, a new slate, that lends itself to a simple, yet perfect record. It’s something that has proven to be effective to the psyche of the team, which paid dividends in the form of winning seasons each year under Herman’s leadership. With that being said, facts are facts. Tom Herman is 0-2 in season openers, losing to Maryland at home in 2017 and in Landover last year. The Longhorns were favorites in both contests. 1-0 this weekend gets the monkey off Herman’s back, while a loss to the Bulldogs creates another hill to climb this season for The Longhorns.
Concerns over Running Back Depth
The Longhorns have five scholarship running backs and all are battling the injury bug – Senior Kirk Johnson (shoulder), Junior Daniel Young (ankle), Sophmore Keaontay Ingram (knee), Freshman Jordan Whittington (residual effects from sports hernia surgery) and Freshman Derrian Brown (stroke in off-season). Ingram and Whittington are listed as 1,2 on this week’s depth chart and Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck said neither will be limited in carries against the Bulldogs. The Longhorns aren’t looking ahead to LSU next weekend, but the staff hopes to minimize the potential for further injury to the running back corps or it’s possible Texas fans could see freshman Roschon Johnson in the backfield.
Honoring Cedric Benson
Texas lost a legend with the recent passing of former star running back Cedric Benson. Benson made his mark on Texas High School Football by amassing 8,423 yards, following that up with an impressive career at The University of Texas. He rushed for 5,540 yards under head coach Mack Brown and claimed the Doak Walker Award in his senior season. In honor of Benson the team will pay tribute to the late, great by wearing a #32 decal on their helmets this season.
As Ehlinger goes, so does Texas
Junior QB Sam Ehlinger has become a household name in the college football quarterback discussion, and rightfully so. The Heisman hopeful threw for over 3,ooo yards last season and notched 25 touchdowns while rushing for 482 yards and 17 TD’s. Ehlinger has the grit, determination and physical tools to propel the Longhorns to great heights, and it starts with the Bulldogs. Earlier in the week Tom Herman reiterated the team’s pass first, run second philosophy with Ehlinger, with the goal of protecting his health for the duration of the season. Given the injury status of the tailbacks, expect to see Sam running the ball throughout the game. As Herman puts it, “he (Ehlinger) is who he is.” And running the ball and hitting defenders is ingrained in Ehlinger’s style of play.
A win for the Longhorns on Saturday would mark Tom Herman’s 40th career win as a head coach (18th at Texas). More importantly it would register his first season-opening win with the Longhorns. On paper, the #10 Longhorns win this game by 3 touchdowns. Texas fans nor Herman want to hear the word “Maryland” again, but the reality is teams evolve throughout the course of a season, and expectations vs. reality manifests itself in season openers. For the Longhorns, a win is a win no matter how pretty or ugly it comes. And Texas must start 1-0 if they intend on winning the conference and competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
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