Here is everything you need to know about the Longhorns home opener in our Texas vs. Maryland preview.
When: Saturday September 2nd @ 11 A.M. CT
Where: Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Longhorn Radio Network (flagship: 104.9 The Horn), Sirius channel 132, XM channel 199
QB Tyrell Pigrome
There was a night and day difference last season for Tryell when it came to passing the football and running with it. Tyler appeared in 11 games in 2016 as a true freshman, including 1 start against Minnesota (lost 31-10) where he had 3 turnovers in a sloppy game. He finished the 2016 season completing 52.1% of his passes and going 37-for-71 on 322 yards with 2 touchdowns. On the bright side, Tyrell ran for 323 yards and 4 scores last season in limited action. I think it is pretty obvious where Tryell is able to find success.
RB Ty Johnson
This is exactly who Maryland wants to run their offense through in Ty Johnson. Ty is a playmaker that this offense was desperate for last season and he delivered rushing for over 1,000 yards averaging an eye popping 9.1 yards per carry. This guy is probably the biggest key player for Maryland not only for this game but for the entire season for the Terrapins.
MLB Jermaine Carter
Jermaine is the Mr. Do it all for this Maryland defense. He brings veteran leadership and toughness to set the tone for this unit. Last season not only did Jermaine lead the team in tackles, he also led the team in sacks last season at the MLB position. That’s impressive if you ask me.
QB Shane Buechele
Last season there were plenty of ups and downs for Texas quarterback Shane Buechele. Now he has a totally new offense to run and while he may not be the best fit, he must find a way to be successful in this smash mouth spread running attack. He isn’t going to out run anyone by any means but he will need to be crafty in the pocket with his feet. What I would like to see most from Shane is consistency. We should have a better idea of that answer of this game.
RBs Kyle Porter & Chris Warren
Who is going to step up and be the alpha dog in this group? Is it going to be a running back by committee this season? If one of these two backs can’t take this job by the horns, Texas will likely use a rotation of 3 to 4 running backs this year. Kyle Porter is not going to wow you by any means but he can do a little bit of everything well. Chris Warren on the other hand is much more proven with his raw power but the question is can he stay healthy?
LB Malik Jefferson
After a breakout freshman campaign in 2015, there is no doubt that Malik Jefferson had a disappointing sophomore slump so to speak. Now He is being coached up defensive guru Todd Orlando which should help drastically from a scheme standpoint. The biggest question Malik will have to face is his physicality. He is one of the most athletic linebackers you will see in college football but what he lacks at times is stopping the run which requires him to shed blocks. The Maryland offense should give a good test on where he stands on that aspect of his game.
Establishing the Run
This is going to be the name of the game right here. Who can run the ball effectively and control the game? Whichever team can do that will win the ballgame. Both Maryland and Texas want to run the football early and often, hell every play if they could for that matter. For Maryland, throwing the football isn’t really a reliable option for them especially when their starting quarterback Tyrell Pigrome struggles to hit his targets. It will be very important to get the football into RB Ty Johnson’s hands and find some running room. Want to know how to take a home crowd out of the game? Run the football effectively and wear out the defense. The biggest key for Maryland is to win first down. The last thing this offense needs is to have 2nd and 3rd downs that require them to gain 7 or more yards.
The same thing will apply for the Texas offense. I have their offensive line ranked only behind Oklahoma’s in my rankings of Big 12 offensive lines. They have the guys up front to get the job done but the question is which back will be able to take advantage of that? Chris Warren has proven he can be effect but his biggest issue has been staying healthy to produce on the field. Kyle Porter will see plenty of touches as well as he will be the first back out there to test his luck. It will also be interesting to see how Shane Buechele is used in certain areas of this running attack as well.
Texas 35, Maryland 17
Texas will rush for 250 yards and throw less than 20 passes in this game. Why? Because this Maryland defense struggles mightily in the run game. (They ranked 100th last season in rush defense). The Longhorns may stall out a bit on offense to shake off some jitters and start to pull away in the second half. Maryland may find a bit of success early and then quickly find themselves in a hole that forces them to throw the football which could cause disaster. The bottom line is Texas just has too much talent to lose to this Maryland team at home.
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