We know how this series has looked over the long haul and how it’s looked over the last eight years, but none of that guarantees how things will play out Saturday. To get the inside scoop on the Longhorns, we checked in with Gerald Goodridge, one of our very favorite folks. You can check out Gerald’s work at Burnt Orange Nation and don’t miss him on Longhorn Pod.
Frogs O’ War: Sam Ehlinger has ten touchdowns through two games. Sure, it’s been not against the most stout opponents, but it’s an absurd number regardless. What is it about his game this year that has evolved to the point on looking unstoppable?
Gerald Goodridge: I think you’re seeing a combination of a fully-mature Sam Ehlinger — who changed his body to be less of a bartering ram — combined with a QB coach/OC that is known for maximizing the talent at that position. Ehlinger is on a mission to prove nationally what many have known regionally, that he’s a quarterback that can get it done as a passer as well as a runner.
Because of how he came on the scene and how he found success early in his career, he’s battled the perception that he’s not a passer. I think Sam is out to prove that wrong in his senior year.
FOW: Despite Sam’s torrid start, it appears (from the outside at least), that the Horns haven’t really established a star receiver yet. Do you think there is a go-to guy on this offense and who is it if so?
GG: Part of that is due to the fact that the two guys expected to be the playmakers at receiver, Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington, both have been sidelined due to injury. Additionally, Brennan Eagles, who was a deep threat a year ago, has been inconsistent and hasn’t separated.
The guy who has separated is Redshirt sophomore Joshua Moore, who missed all of last season due to legal issues. He was on the receiving-end of the 78-yard touchdown pass on Texas’ first play of the season, as well as the game-tying and game-winning touchdown grabs against Texas Tech. He’s a big, fluid target who has the arms and hands to bring in 50/50 balls.
FOW: TCU’s defense was expected to be elite in 2020, but they gave up some monster plays in their opener — especially in the run game. How can Texas take advantage of those weaknesses?
GG: This is the area of the Texas offense I have the most questions about. Texas has two healthy backs that could be the No. 1 guy for a lot of teams in the country, but hasn’t really focused on the ground game thus far.
They purposefully went fairly unbalanced against UTEP to see which of their receivers would show up on game day. In spite of that, the RB committee finished with 22 carries for 120 yards and a score. It’s also hard to go run-first when Tech puts up 56 points, but Ingram managed to finish with 12 carries for 89 yards. Like a lot of offenses today, expect a mix of RPO with short and intermediate routes frequently, as well as trying to get the backs behind the superior left side of the offensive line.
FOW: Speaking of defense, does Texas have one? What in the heck went wrong against Tech?
GG: Technically-speaking, Texas does field a defense. Now, I can’t confidently say that all 11 of those guys have played consistently-well, but they’re there. They did clamp down late against Tech, forcing a punt to send the game to overtime and rattling Bowman on the final two plays of overtime.
The two biggest questions, once again are tackling and pass rush. Texas has just two sacks on the season, both of which came in garbage time against UTEP. Joseph Ossai got home a couple of times against Alan Bowman and altered the throw, but he couldn’t bring him down. Tech also broke an obscene number of tackles against the Texas defense.
FOW: There are some really big names on both sides of the ball that have yet to break out — through two games at least. What is one name to watch heading into UT’s third game of the season?
GG: Jake Smith hasn’t played a down yet due to injury, but his backups - grad transfer Brenden Schooler and walk-on Kai Money (his actual name) - have a combined 17 receptions and at least three more targets. Ehlinger LOVES the inside receiver, evidenced by his history with Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay, and Smith is just as talented as those guys. It’s also rumored that Yurcich has plays specifically-designed to highlight his skills.
FOW: What is one matchup that you’re really looking forward to keeping an eye on Saturday?
GG: The Texas offensive line against the TCU pass rush. Texas Tech exploited struggles along the right side of the Texas line and I’ve been having nightmares about Garret Wallow all week.
FOW: Tom Herman seems to have a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth, and while it may have been clipped out of context, his “Gary doesn’t do much” quote is getting lots of play. What do you make of his foot in mouth moment?
GG: That one definitely was grabbed out of context. Between “Gary” and “doesn’t do a whole lot” was “to his credit and a ton of respect to him.” People are willing to run with it because you’re right, Herman has said dumb stuff in the past, but he was clearly trying to be complimentary to a guy who has owned not just him, but the last three Texas coaches.
I think what he was trying to say was that TCU defensively is so well-coached that they could line up in base defense all game and beat you. Which I tend to agree with. A Patterson-coached defense is rarely, if ever, is going to get beat because of bad tackling or poor fundamentals.
***editor’s note: rarely was last weekend, so we should be good to go Saturday, right?***
FOW: What is your prediction for Saturday? Where do the big plays come from and what’s the final score?
GG: I hate predictions, but I honestly expect both teams to find some offensive success against each other. I honestly think a Big 12 game breaks out because of both team’s defenses and I think/hope Texas comes out on top 42-35.