Moving the goalposts
Moving the goalposts: Herman's Longhorns finally get their 1-0 season opener
Hey ho, let’s go! Forget the corny “Don’t Stop Believing” — the theme song of Saturday night’s 45-14 destruction of Louisiana Tech was “Blitzkreig Bop” by the Ramones.
Our spirit animal, quarterback Sam Ehlinger, was 28-38 for 266 yards and four touchdowns in the August 31 matchup, but the star of the game was defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who seemed to have his charges in a 1-3-7 formation at one point. Todd-O sent DBs at J’Mar Smith like a teenager sends DMs, leaving the Bulldogs QB to dance for his life. On several jailbreak schemes it seemed like there’d be a penalty for too many men on the field. When you blitz six, who’s in coverage?
Tech’s Smith, a four-year starter, did throw for 340 yards, but when it was time to make a stop, Orlando’s magic came through. (Or, rather, Tech’s kicker didn’t.) The score was 38-0 when the players were holding up four fingers.
Much has been made of the fact that Texas lost eight starters from last year’s Sugar Bowl champs. Turns out the new guys are better! Sophomore Jalen Green is a lockdown corner who’ll be shopping for mansions in two years, Jacoby Jones is a trench beast, Joseph Ossai and Chris Brown played fast and furious, and DeMarvion Overshown is overlooked no more after a spectacular interception. Add steady-freddies Caden Sterns, Brandon Jones, Malcolm Roach, and Jeffrey McCullough and you’ve got a defense nobody wants to play.
Offense is cool, especially when you have your own Wes Welker (freshman Jake Smith), but there’s nothing a football fan loves more than great defense. It’s the best kind of stress relief.
Since Texas had been upset on opening day the first two years of Herman’s reign, jitters were expected. Louisiana Tech is no slouch and their players were chippy in the early going. But you knew the Longhorns were going to win by the pumped-up way they ran into the stadium. “Trust your training,” Herman told his guys who, after months of drills, squats, and scrimmages came out like they were ready to take somebody’s head off.
The Horns got the ball first and Lil’ Devin Duvernay got more touches on that opening drive than a panda at a petting zoo. Since Dev don’t drop, Texas 7-Opponent 0 came easy. Other receivers who deserve game balls were sophomore Brennan Eagles, whose name sounds like a high school football team, and senior Collin Johnson.
Eagles gave fans a peaceful, easy feeling when his second striding TD catch put Texas ahead 31-0 in the third quarter. Johnson rebounded from a lost fumble with a couple of spectacular catches, including a sideline toe-drag from Swan Lake that maybe should’ve been reviewed. (By the refs, not ballet critics.)
Perhaps the best news from DKR is that Ehlinger and running back Keaontay Ingram (averaged 7.1 yards per carry) didn’t get hurt, though when Sammy, the mule of the 40 acres, sat back down, stunned, after a hard helmet-removal hit, it reminded many in the crowd to wear adult diapers next week. It was good to see the contact junkie slide or run out of bounds.
Freshman backup QB Casey Thompson looked shaky in his first mop-up duty of the year, though his touchdown run settled his nerves. But Ehlinger is simply indispensable! This whole town is so wrapped up in No. 11 that a serious injury would empty the shelves at H-E-B of water and canned goods. Can FEMA fix a collective broken heart? It’s a moot question; Ehlinger will linger behind Shack all year.
Hungry and precise is a great combination. That’s how the Horns looked last night. Loose and homicidal. Tom Herman to the 0-1 monkey on his back: “OK, cool … Hook’em.” Next week is the big one, but I like our chances against No. 6 LSU. As Professor McConaughey exhorted in his F-bomb-riddled rally to the team before this season opener. “Send them home! Send them back to Louisiana!”
We’re gonna have a lot of fun this year.