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Better Know an Opponent: Texas Longhorns

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Party time in Austin

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas
We’re coming for you, cows.
John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

After skipping the first two weeks of the baseball season, it’s time to renew everyone’s favorite feature: Better Know an Opponent! You knew we couldn’t skip the University of Texas Longhorns.

The Longhorns and the Tigers have a bit history, as one would expect for two traditional power programs, but most of the history has been in recent years rather than reaching back to some dusty footage of the 1980s. LSU clinched its last national title against the Horns, and the two teams matched up last year in Baton Rouge. Does anyone remember how that went?

Pretty well, now that I remember. LSU pounded out wins in the first two games by a combined score of 23-9 before dropping the Sunday game. My Texas alum coworker had to buy me a six-pack of Austin beer. Things worked out well. Let’s hope for a repeat on the return trip to Austin.

Texas took two of three in both of its series so far, against UL-Laf and Purdue. Texas also has a huge midweek win over Rice. This looks like another really good Texas team that will make the tournament and maybe contend for Omaha. This is a big series for LSU.

Texas Longhorns

Record: 7-3(0-0)

RS/RA: 66/43

Rank/RPI/ISR: 22/-/-

TV: LHN

RPI doesn’t begin until mid-March, so we can’t point and laugh at our opponents’ rankings in the computers, but the polls do start with the season, and Texas is a lower top 25 team. They are in danger of dropping out of the polls thanks to losing to UTSA in a midweek game this week.

The big thing to look out for this weekend is that because this game is at UT, the games will be on the Longhorn Network. Let’s be honest, you do not have LHN if you don’t live in Texas. Plan accordingly. No, you cannot have my password.

The Hitters

Team 269/382/424

3B Ryan Reynolds 389/500/611
OF Austin Todd 371/463/571
OF Eric Kennedy 243/333/486

It’s early, so it’s always fun to have some guys posting some absurd lines before the law of averages starts working out. It’s also nice to see Ryan Reynolds taking some time off from the Deadpool movies to man the hot corner for the Horns (no, not really). Reynolds is knocking the crap out of the ball right now, and 6 of his 14 hits were for extra bases.

Austin Todd is the most well-rounded hitter on the squad, showing dynamic power and the ability to draw a walk. Additionally, he’s a threat on the basepaths, stealing 2-3 on the year so far. Texas, as a team, is 12 of 14, which bodes ill for LSU. Eric Kennedy seems to be the team’s big basher. He only has 2 homers so far, but he’s third in total bases despite the low batting average. Texas can hit, and there’s very few holes in the lineup for our starters to exploit.

The Pitching

Friday: RHP Bryce Elder 0.64, 14 IP, 15/3 K/BB
Saturday: RHP Blair Henley 8.31, 8.2 IP, 4/1 K/BB
Sunday: RHP Coy Cobb 2.61, 10.1 IP, 2/2 K/BB
Relief: RHP Cole Quintanilla 1.04, 8.2 IP, 10/1 K/BB

Texas still hasn’t found its Sunday starter, but they have a fabulous 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation plus a bona fide relief ace to bail them out of whatever trouble they get into. Quintanilla is a good guy to have on the roster, but he sat out last season due to Tommy John and the Longhorns probably don’t want to push him too quickly back into a rotation role.

Elder is the undisputed ace of the staff, and he’s living up to the preseason billing so far. He throws a mid-90s fastball coupled with an impressive offspeed arsenal. Henley has struggled so far this year, but he is the staff’s only veteran, so it’s likely Texas will continue to give him enough rope.

Poseur’s Excuse for Missing the Games

With the games right down the road from me, this would seem like a perfect opportunity to load the kids in the car and use this as an excuse to visit Austin. Alas, I will skip out on this short trip because I have promised Lil Posette a trip to the theater to see Anastasia. I actually kind of enjoyed the film, so I’m curious to see if the live performance will hold my interest.

I guarantee I will not attend a game this year, and each week I will post my legitimate excuse as to why this is the week I will not see the Tigers play in person. It will often involve my children. They are pretty cute, but they really get in the way of my sports consumption.

Tiger Bait?

Texas has a good team. They’ve got a deep rotation, a legit relief ace if someone falters, and plenty of options in the bullpen. They also have a potent offense that can hit for power while also showing speed on the basepths. They don’t give up too many outs, though they do have the standard bottom of the order guys who will lay down a bunt. This is a good, deep team, but it lacks those true high end stars. There’s lots of very good on this team, and even some potential greatness, but not a lot of established great players like LSU.

So far, their early questions have been answered in the affirmative, but not a resounding yes. They beat ULL, but each game was tight, and they managed only a 2-1 series win. LSU is not ULL. Texas is playing at home and they are a legit top 25 team, but LSU is the better team. I think LSU takes two of three, eking out a series win on getaway day. But this is far from a layup.