TCU is 2-1 after a loss to Ohio State, while Texas is 2-1 after their 37-14 victory over USC. Texas fans seem to be energized by the victory over the Trojans, and rightfully so. It was Texas’ first win over a ranked opponent since they beat No. 8 Baylor 35-34 on October 29, 2016. They had gone 0-5 since. But there’s a flip side to the win, too.
Sure, a win over USC is good for the resume, but the Trojans don’t look like the team that has won 10+ games three of the past five seasons. They struggled mightily against Stanford, and jumped out early on Texas before fading to black. Meanwhile, Texas’ season hasn’t exactly been a beacon of success. After a week one loss to Maryland, Texas almost blew a 21-0 halftime lead to Tulsa before hanging on to win 28-21.
But now, the Frogs head to Austin, looking to build on their current four game winning streak against the Longhorns. A win on Saturday would give TCU their longest winning streak in history against Texas. But who are the Longhorns? Let’s take a look.
Sam Ehlinger is once again calling the shots for the Longhorns, and he’s looked about the same as in 2017 through three games this season. He’s completing 57.6% of his passes, with six touchdowns to two interceptions. His late game picks thrown against Maryland were reminiscent of a season ago, but he’s managed to protect the ball much better over the past two weeks, giving up just one fumble over that time span.
Ehlinger still makes a few questionable reads every now and then, but he seems to have found two reliable receivers in Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson who have helped to settle him down. The two receivers are responsible for 30 of Ehlinger’s 57 completed passes on the season and for more than 62% of his passing yards.
Humphrey’s spin move and ensuing 47-yard dash to the endzone pulled Texas back to within striking distance, after USC threatened to run away with the game in the first quarter.
However, Texas has also seen several drives stall out on the season, and the same was true in the USC game. Three drives of 5+ plays, including a nine-play drive, and a 12-play drive, stalled out, leading to field goals instead of touchdowns. Kicker Cameron Dicker (yup) is perfect on the season, though, and has flashed a strong leg through the first quarter of the season.
Texas got some bad news earlier this week, when they found out linebacker/defensive end Malcolm Roach will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a broken foot. Roach was a big piece of UT’s defensive front, and will be missed.
It’s a defense that has already shown they’re susceptible to big plays again in 2018. In their first three games, Texas has allowed five touchdowns of more than 20 yards, and 13 total plays of 20+ yards:
Texas Defense 20+ yard plays allowed
|Maryland||Pass||23||1st and 10|
|Maryland||Pass||35||1st and 10|
|Tulsa||Run||26||1st and 10|
|Tulsa||Pass||48||1st and 10|
|USC||Pass||29||1st and 10|
|USC||Pass||40||1st and Goal|
|USC||Pass||41||1st and Goal|
|USC||Pass||53||1st and 10|
It seems as though Texas is susceptible to the big play through the air, although the Longhorns’ secondary isn’t without a good amount of talent. Seniors Kris Boyd and PJ Locke are talented veterans, and freshman Caden Sterns has stepped on campus and immediately become an impact player.
Do I think Texas is getting better? Yes. Do I think their win over USC means they’re “back?” No. TCU is the better team in this matchup. The Frogs have the edge at key positions, and will be the best team, by far, Texas has seen to this point in the season.
Give me the Frogs to extend their winning streak to five games, but I think the score is closer than it has been in recent years.