Shane Buechele is set to begin his sophomore campaign better-prepared and with more pieces around him. Considering the numbers he put up as a true freshman, Texas should expect to see great things from its young gun.
Tyrrell Pigrome has all but secured the Maryland playmaking position. The dual-threat sophomore furthers the team’s already lethal running game, but started only one game last season for the Terrapins.
It’s unclear if Longhorn sophomore Kyle Porter will be ready for gameday coming off a lingering shoulder injury. If he sits, it’ll be junior Chris Warren III and sophomore Kirk Johnson with the bulk of the carries.
Maryland is returning Ty Johnson, who recorded over 1,000 yards and averaged 9.1 yards per carry in 2016. The junior is expected to have another stellar season with offensive coordinator Walt Bell continuing to pressure defenses with an up-tempo style
With the exception of Maryland’s run game, every other matchup favors Texas on paper. That should prove especially apparent with regards to the Longhorn wide receivers, who will likely run circles around an uncertain
Maryland has a slew of young talent in the receiver pool and not a lot of experience. Senior Taivon Jacobs — who missed his entire junior year with an injury — will likely be a regul ar target in
An emphasis on conditioning in addition to a strong returning core means Buechele should feel right at home in the pocket. It remains to be seen how well the line will fare against a tougher defensive opponent.
Maryland is plagued with issues across its young front. Texas should have no problem exploiting matchups up and down the line, particularly as depth becomes increasingly important down the stretch.
Texas struggled mightily against the run during the 2016 season — something head coach Tom Herman has repeatedly emphasized and will be on full
display against Johnson and Maryland. It starts with the frontline combination of senior Poona Ford, junior Chris Nelson and sophomore Malcolm Roach, and will ripple out from there.
Maryland finished No. 77 defensively last season, allowing 427.1 yards per game and 50 offensive touchdowns. The defensive unit is returning seven starters, but Texas should find no trouble poking holes in
Longhorn junior Malik Jefferson solidified his position at outside linebacker, recently earning a spot on the Big 12’s preseason all-conference team. He’s a versatile playmaker that should flourish this season.
Maryland senior Jermaine Carter has 25 starts under his belt and will prove to be a handful for any Texas player who tries to mark him.
If last season’s passing yards are any indication, the Terrapins struggle to defend against the pass when facing strong offensive opponents. With the deep receiving squad being arguably the strongest part of the Longhorn team, you can expect deep shots downfield early and often.
The Longhorns’ pass defense surrendered an average 258 yards per game last season. Texas has potential stars in sophomore Brandon Jones and junior P.J. Locke III, but the young team could easily fall victim to last year’s inconsistency.
The Maryland team boasted a productive special teams squad during the 2016 season. With the entire group returning for the 2017 campaign, the Terrapins should see success in that front.
Special teams are always hard to read prior to an opener. Texas emphasized the role of special teams regularly during the offseason, which ought to translate to a better kicking game on Saturday for the Longhorns.