Here is everything you need to know about the Longhorns’ season opener in our Texas at Maryland preview and prediction.
When: Saturday September 1st @ 11 A.M. CT
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Longhorn IMG Network
QB Kasim Hill- Maryland has had a revolving door at quarterback due to all the injuries at the position last season. Entering the 2017 season, Kasim Hill backed up Tyrrell Pigrome and when Tyrell went down in the first game against Texas last season, Kasim had to finish the game. Just two games later, Kasim went down with a season ending injury himself against UCF. Now it appears he will have the full reigns of this Matt Canada offense and nobody is quite sure what to expect from this young man. What I do know is that he can make some plays with his feet as well as his arm.
RB Ty Johnson– Once again, the offense will run through running back Ty Johnson. Ty rushed for over 900 yards last season on only 137 attempts. In fact, Johnson averaged an eye popping 6.4 yards per carry last season. With a solid and healthy offensive line in front of him, there is no reason why Ty Johnson won’t rush for a thousand yards this season. As for this game? I expect him to get plenty of carries to test out this Longhorn defense.
DB Antoine Brooks Jr.- Antoine started 11 games at nickelback for the Terps and played extremely well last season. At defensive back, he led the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and was second on the team in total tackles with 77. To add to that, he also had 2 interceptions last season. This guy is everywhere when it comes to finding the football and that’s why he is on plenty of All-Big Ten preseason ballots.
QB Sam Ehlinger- Last season Sam played in 9 games and started in 6 of those. Now, he appears to be the full-time starter for Texas. Last season, Sam threw for 11 TDs along with 7 picks and completed 57.4% of his passes. He was very streaky last season and it was obvious at times that he was a true freshman. Now with a year under his belt, can he make the improvements necessary to take this offense to the next level?
RBs Tre Watson and Daniel Young- Both guys should see plenty of carries in the ball game. Tre Watson is a grad transfer from Cal who is coming off a season ending injury while Daniel Young is a true sophomore who rushed for only 386 yards last season. While both guys have talent, I am not totally sure what they will bring to the table this season.
LB Gary Johnson- With Malik Jefferson gone, Gary Johnson is the guy at linebacker. He’s quick, physical and has shown the ability to be a solid linebacker. With a lot of good linebackers in the Big 12 this season, Gary gets lost in the shuffle a bit, but he shouldn’t. With Maryland leaning towards an offensive ground attack, Gary will get plenty of opportunities to shut down the Terps offensive by flying to the football.
Who can stop the run?
Maryland is going through a lot right now with the whole D.J. Durkin situation and so on. Interim head coach Matt Canada loves putting guys in motion but most importantly, he loves to feed his running backs and run the football. Maryland has guys who can do that and with an offensive line that should be improving, expect Maryland try to beat Texas in the ground and pound game. Texas did a great job last season on defense under defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and even though the Longhorns lost some key pieces last season, they still have plenty of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. The question is, will they be prepared better than they were this time last season?
The same thing applies for the Maryland defense. They gave up 190 yards rushing per game last season which is not very good. Maryland is replacing some key pieces up front on defense, but they will get back DE Jesse Aniebonam who had 14 TFLs and 9 sacks back in 2016. While he should be just fine, the pieces around him are a bit unproven up front. Considering how bad they struggled against the run last season, expect Texas to test them early and often on Saturday running the football. I’ll take the Longhorns with a bit of revenge from last season and rolling to a 28-14 win over Maryland.