Just three days into the opening of the Texas season against Louisiana and everyone is trying to hurry up and wait. After a brutal season, Longhorn football is about to get it. It is the first ranked opening match of the season since 1984.
Opening up as an 8.5-point favorite, everyone seems to pick up on the upset, let alone Texas covering the difference. Having won last season at Iowa State, defeating the Big 12 teams is nothing new to the Ragin ’Cajuns. Nothing will scare a set of talented returning staff.
There will be many stories in Texas, regardless of whether they win, lose or draw. Sarkisian’s debut alone would be enough to quantify Saturday’s showdown. If you add a difficult confrontation, everything is a little more interesting.
Here are five stories to keep in mind at the opening of the Texas season against Louisiana.
11 against 12 people
Everything will be determined by Steve Sarkisian himself. Do you have enough confidence in Texas receivers to make three, or will you go with two tight ends to help block?
Cade Brewer will be TE1 according to the depth chart released Monday. Jared Wiley (most likely) Or Gunnar Helm would be the second man and would play the receiver role more often than not. They could be split in the slot or in the back paper H just behind the fight line.
Another factor could be that Troy Omeire missed Saturday’s game with another knee injury. Joshua Moore, Jordan Whittington and Xavier Worthy will all be on the field or on wide receiver rotation. The limited number of charges should have Sarkisian leading a decent number of twelve people.
Use of quarterback
After a long battle, Hudson Card was named starter by Steve Sarkisian, but not without a twist. The coach said Card and Casey Thompson will play this weekend.
“I know Casey will play,” Sarkisian said. “When, how much, I’m not exactly sure.”
There are many hypothetical scenarios about when quarterbacks could have playing time. Thompson could come in after a few drives and get his shot with the first team attack. Or if the game ever gets out of hand, the full second team trots in the fourth quarter.
What we do know is that Card will take the first offensive attack on Saturday. For Sarkisian, Thompson will have his chance at some point.
Where does the Louisiana rush game come from
Last season’s top Louisiana runners, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, have dropped out of the program for the NFL. The two combined for more than 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. The Ragin ’Cajuns will now rely on Chris Smith’s second year red shirt.
Special teams where Smith contributed more last season, earning first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors. In the backfield, he had 350 yards and a touchdown on 62 gates. The numbers aren’t bad, by any means, but Smith has never been the feature that goes back to offense.
Louisiana’s offensive line will be the factor. Four of the five returning starters started at least 10 games last season. With the good projection of the Texas defensive line, a pretty strong confrontation could be in our hands.
How often does Pete Kwiatkowski have nickel?
The fall camp began with Chris Adimora being Pete Kwiatkowski’s fifth defensive end. He finished with Anthony Cook winning the spot to open the season. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Instead of an additional DB, Kwiatkowski could provoke another outside defender in the form of Ogie Oghoufo or Ben Davis. Maybe if the aforementioned Louisiana game starts to start, it will change to a more traditional 3-4.
Saturday will give us basic expectations on how Kwiatkowski plans to use his players in certain scenarios. Against a good opponent, it won’t be vanilla either.
Steve Sarkisian v. Billy Napier
On paper, Tom Herman has much more talented teams than most of his opponents in the recruiting standings. When they lost a few games for the Longhorns over the last four years, they were coaching decisions. With Sarkisian, things need to change immediately.
Especially with someone like Billy Napier on the other side. The Louisiana boss is not your usual coach of the group of five. He reportedly turned down several offers from Power Five schools to stay at Layfette for at least one more season.
If the game goes to training, for now Napier may have a slight advantage. With the exception of the 2020 Iron Bowl, it’s been almost seven years since Sarkisian was head coach.
Please no more Turtle Tom mentality.