AUSTIN, Texas – Texas opened the season strong last week and is now 1-0 under Tom Herman for the first time.
The team put their recent season-opening woes behind them and stomped on Louisiana Tech.
There is another team from Louisiana coming to town this weekend and this team expects to leave Austin with their second win of the season.
As we prepare for No. 9 Texas to take on No. 6 LSU at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, here are a few questions that come to mind in preparation for this week’s game.
What surprised you from last Saturday’s game against Louisiana Tech?
If he continues his supreme route running from last week, receiver Devin Duvernay will be a huge part of the Texas offense against the Tigers. Coming into Week 1, there was a lot of talk about how Texas would replace the production of Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Collin Johnson was the center of that talk. However, Duvernay showed last weekend that he is a force to be reckoned with. He caught three passes on the opening drive and finished the game with nine catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. With the Texas backfield banged up, expect the speedy 5 foot, 11 inch-tall receiver to take some more handoffs, as well. If Duvernay keeps up this production, he will add a welcome wrinkle to the Texas passing attack this week.
Honorable Mention: Texas LB Jeffrey McCullough, who had eight total tackles last week.
What will the Texas running game look like this week against LSU with Jordan Whittington sidelined?
Following the game against Louisiana Tech, Tom Herman announced that running back Jordan Whittington would be sidelined roughly four to six weeks with a sports hernia. On the depth chart released earlier this week, Roschon Johnson is listed as the No. 2 running back behind Keaontay Ingram. Johnson, an initial QB commit for Texas, took seven handoffs last weekend and is now expected to see more carries with yet another Texas running back on the injury report. Listed behind Johnson? Freshman converted linebacker David Gbenda, who as early as last week was practicing with the linebackers and listed on the defensive side of the depth chart. Gbenda practiced with the offense this week and is also expected to see some action. Ingram showed Saturday that he is capable of being a No. 1 back, but does the roster thin out after him or will the young Longhorn Recruits step up? We will see Saturday.
What is the main ingredient to a Texas win this weekend?
Texas moved the ball with ease for the most part last weekend, but LSU will be no cakewalk. One aspect of the Longhorns’ game from last week that they must keep up in order to win is their stout offensive line’s performance. This is a unit that had question marks coming into the season but came out last week and gave Ehlinger enough time to look down each receiver twice if he needed to. One stat that stood out from last week was the fact that Sam Ehlinger was only sacked one time. If this offensive line gives Ehlinger the same amount of time he was getting last week, there is no reason to think that Texas won’t score 30-plus points again. That said, this a strong LSU defense. Despite that, these Texas receivers are simply too strong and fast for most defenses to cover on extended plays.
Look at the time and space Ehlinger has on this on-the-run touchdown throw to Collin Johnson from last week.
Who will be the X-Factor for LSU this weekend?
Junior wide receiver Justin Jefferson finished last week with five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. The 6 foot, 3 inch-tall receiver out of St. Rose, Louisiana, led the team with 54 catches for 875 yards and six touchdowns. That was at least twice as many receptions, yards and scores than the player ranked second in all three of those categories. Jefferson will be used as a prime weapon for this LSU offense, but Texas proved last week they are capable of locking down receivers and preventing the big play. Louisiana Tech receiver Adrian Hardy, who led all of C-USA in receiving yards in 2018, was held to only three catches last week. If Texas can slow down Justin Jefferson, that should give them an edge on the defensive side of the ball.
Honorable Mention: LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr., who caught three touchdowns last week.
Which young Longhorn could be an X-Factor vs. LSU?
One pleasant surprise from last week was freshman receiver Jake Smith.
“He’s freaky fast,” Ehlinger said to the media prior to the season. Smith saw plenty of targets last week and finished the game with four catches for 31 yards. The freshman from Scottsdale, Arizona may be easy to forget about with Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay on the field, but the Julian Edelman-esque receiver is capable of making opposing defensive backs regret that. He could be a sneaky offensive weapon for Texas this weekend if the LSU defense fails to keep an eye on him.
Honorable Mention: Texas WR Brennan Eagles, who snagged two touchdowns last week.
I’ve been telling everyone who would listen about Texas freshman Jake Smith! He’s playing and looking GOOD!— Ray Garvin (@RayGQue) September 1, 2019
Hope you listened to the @DestinationDevy Ep. 13 we tried to tell ya! #hookem