The eyes of the college football universe will be centered on Austin when the Tigers and Horns take the field Saturday night. Gameday will be there, the game is on ABC’s prestigious 6:30 P.M. timeslot. The excitement for Saturday grows by the day and here to prepare us for the Longhorns is Gerald Goodridge at Burnt Orange Nation.
1. Sam Ehlinger’s beaten one SEC team before. What kind of night will he have to have to beat LSU?
I hate the term “gamer,” but I think it definitely applies to Sam Ehlinger, as he shows up the biggest when the pressure is the highest. I think Ehlinger will need to turn in somewhere in the range of 275 yards and three TDs through the air, with another 30 on the ground with a score.
2. Much has been made about Texas losing eight starters on defense. Last week the unit held Louisiana Tech to 14 points but gave up 340 passing yards. LSU’s offense looks totally revamped and has a plethora of receivers to throw the ball to, is the Longhorn secondary ready for the challenge?
That is honestly the $1,000,000 question. Against Louisiana Tech, they showed flashes of brilliance, but definitely struggled in a few spots. A bit of that yardage would be considered garbage time, after LaTech was down 38-0 had essentially abandoned the run. When you look at it, 145 of those 340 yards came late in the third and early in the fourth quarter when Texas was rotating out starters. That being said, you definitely saw growing pains early from the defensive backs and the LSU receiving corps is light years ahead of the Louisiana Tech group.
3. Keaontay Ingram had a good showing despite the limited reps against La. Tech. But freshman running back Jordan Whittington will be out Saturday night and it looks like Texas only has two healthy running backs to go with. How big of a burden will Ingram have to carry? And how often will Texas call on Ehlinger to run?
Short answer, Ingram will carry a huge burden for Texas, but it’s a role he is used to. In his junior and senior seasons at Carthage High School, he carried the ball a ridiculous 555 times, which is why his carries in 2018 were closely monitored. Ingram said in Tuesday’s media availability that he’s willing to carry the ball 40 times if it’s what it takes to get the win. Texas really only has one actual scholarship running back available, as No. 2 on the depth chart is actually third-string quarterback Roschon Johnson. Johnson is an incredible athlete in his own right, but come kickoff he’ll only have been in the spot for about 15 days. Ehlinger in the past has been a battering ram in the offense, whether by design or just his own natural playstyle. However, against LaTech, he did some things I’ve never seen him do before, primarily get the extra yardage without taking unnecessary hits. I think he’ll see an increased role in the offense this week, but don’t expect it to be like 2018.
4. The LSU offensive line was considered the Tigers’ weak spot heading into the season. Against Georgia Southern, they gave up zero quarterback pressures but only allowed the Tiger running backs to generate about three yards a carry. Does Texas have the defensive linemen to expose this perceived LSU weakness?
Like everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, the answer is that they have the talent, but it’s unproven. In the middle, Keondre Coburn is an absolute unit at 6-foot-2 and 340 pounds, while his backup Moro Ojomo is a converted defensive end and what he gives up in size he supplements with quickness and incredible use of his long arms. On the edges, Malcolm Roach is as talented as any defensive end and will play with a chip on his shoulder against his hometown team.
5. The LSU-Texas home-and-home was announced five years ago and now it’s finally here. How are the people in Austin feeling heading into Saturday and what’s the outcome?
There’s an underlying electricity among the fandom right now, with all of the hype and pageantry that comes along with a top-10 matchup and College Gameday being on campus. I think there’s a lot of cautious optimism based on the success in the last two years and the lack of it for the eight-ish years prior, with a decent contingent of people feeling completely bullish about this game and the season. As far as the outcome, I am absolutely awful at scoring predictions, but I think that it’s a tight, high-scoring affair and whoever has the ball last will end up with the W.