HOUSTON – Texas will take on Rice this Saturday in Houston at NRG Stadium at 7 p.m.
Coach Tom Herman and his coordinators spoke this week, and we now have a much better idea of what we will see out of these Longhorns on Saturday, both in terms of their depth chart and schematically.
As for injuries, Herman announced after practice Thursday that DeMarvion Overshown will miss this week with a stress reaction in his vertebrae. In addition to that, Collin Johnson is still suffering from a sore hamstring and will travel with the team to Houston but is listed as a "game-time decision." Read more below for more injury updates.
As the Longhorns get ready to head east on I-10, let's take a look at some of the more important things to know heading into Saturday's matchup.
1. Ready for the run?
Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando confirmed on Wednesday that Texas is preparing to face run-heavy Rice, which is a bit of a change from what they faced in the first two games. Rice runs a lot of heavy sets with two or three tight-ends, and they love to pound the ball with different backs. The Owls had five different players total five or more carries last weekend vs. Wake Forest. Orlando said the team had a very "physical" practice during their full-pads day earlier this week, and he seemed confident that this team could bounce back on the road following a tough loss. What will Texas do differently this week on the defensive side of the ball to prepare for this run-heavy offense? See below.
2. Four-LBs for Texas
Texas began to thwart Rice's running game before they even traveled to Houston, as Orlando announced Wednesday that the team is likely to utilize their four-linebacker formation this weekend. Included in this big group are Joseph Ossai, Jeffrey McCullough, Ayodele Adeoye and Juwan Mitchell. This group of four will be tasked with stopping the Rice run game at least until Texas has a lead big enough that Rice begins to throw the ball more. Texas will certainly see a lot of the ground-and-pound on Saturday night, but the faster they score the less time these talented linebackers have to spend on the field giving and taking hits.
3. Green and Boyce remain starters
Orlando announced in a press conference on Wednesday that Jalen Green and Kobe Boyce will again start at cornerback this weekend for Texas, despite a rough outing last weekend against a very tough LSU offense. When asked about the game last week, Orlando said that his guys "were very close to making some of those plays" in reference to a couple of big LSU plays, including the game-clinching throw on 3rd-and-17 by Joe Burrow. He said that these guys "played their tails off" but they have to do a better job at "over-communicating." Orlando stated that communication was a focal point early this week in practice and smirked when he said: "I think we got our point across."
4. ‘Horns running backs
Keaontay Ingram will remain the starter for Texas this week at running back. Ingram dropped a wide-open would-be touchdown pass early in the game last weekend. On Wednesday, Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck said they practiced that play all week this week and Ingram "caught all of them." The coaches expressed major confidence in Roschon Johnson, with Beck saying that Johnson played hard and "brought a lot of energy" last week.
Herman confirmed Thursday that running back Daniel Young has been activated and is "probably going to play" this weekend. However, he noted that because of the time missed, Young is a little "rusty." Herman said that we should expect to see the same 1-2 punch with Ingram and Johnson, but he "wouldn't hesitate" to put Young in at back if needed. When asked if he was happy to see another scholarship running back on the field and off the injury report, Herman jokingly stated that "David Gbenda is probably really happy about that."
5. Casey Thompson and other young guys likely to see the field
Texas comes into this game a 32.5-point favorite after the loss that has certainly docked sleep from some of these Longhorns over the last week. These Texas players are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and bounce back on the road. With that being said, if the Longhorns are able to come out this weekend and put up some quick points to take Rice out of the game early, expect some of the younger guys, like Casey Thompson and Jake Smith, to get some more playing time in this week.
Herman and the rest of the Texas coaching staff appeared to be ready to move onto Week 3 and put the LSU loss behind them. Herman said on Thursday that "at the end of the day, Rice doesn't care [about their loss to LSU]." Texas will have to be prepared to take on a heavy run game and hopefully get a big enough lead to give these starters some more rest as Texas prepares for Big-12 play after this weekend.
Line: Texas -32.5
(Source: Vegas Insider)