It’s Week Two, and No. 9 Texas is considered an underdog in its highly anticipated matchup against No. 6 Louisiana State University. As the spread continues to lean in LSU’s favor, Texas is preparing to face what may be its greatest challenge this season. Luckily for the Longhorns, head coach Tom Herman has a history of success as an underdog — he’s 13–2–1 against the spread since 2015.
LSU’s unit is strong; quarterback Joe Burrow finished with an 85.2% completion rate in the Tigers’ 55-3 win over Georgia Southern. Texas must be strong in every facet of the game Saturday, and the coaching staff is moving quickly to get the team ready.
“This will be as talented of a defense as we have seen in our time here,” Herman said. “And it’s not just heavy in one area, you know. I mean, it’s not just, ‘Hey, they’re great in the secondary, but they’re average up front.’ I mean, they’ve got NFL players at pretty much every position.”
Texas has been hit hard with depth issues at running back. Former quarterback Roschon Johnson recently moved to the position and had nine touches for 40 total yards against Louisiana Tech. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck already sees the freshman getting more comfortable in the position.
“(Johnson) is continually showing signs,” Beck said in a press conference Wednesday. “We all know he’s a very special athlete, gifted. But he’s starting to show signs of being more comfortable there.”
Herman announced Thursday that behind Johnson in the depth chart is senior Mason Ramirez. The running back joined Texas during spring practice in 2018 as a defensive back, then was put on scholarship this August, and has yet to see the field for the Longhorns.
Defensively, Texas is looking to improve on a lackluster performance from the secondary, particularly the cornerbacks. Although sophomore Jalen Green finished with five total tackles, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is looking for improvement from the other corners.
“It’s still ongoing,” Orlando said. “We evaluate every day. I mean, to me, Jason (Washington) goes in that room, we go in that room and we’re going to evaluate it because we don’t want guys to stop pushing and trying to go. You get rewarded for the way you practice.”
Time is ticking for the Longhorns. With a sold-out crowd and ESPN’s College GameDay watching, the biggest game of Week Two is rapidly approaching. Even with all the hype, Orlando is confident the Longhorns’ training will prepare them for the matchup.
“I think at the end of the day, it’s always been about us, you know, in the way that we train and the way that we do things, and this is just another opportunity,” Orlando said. “All we can do is prepare them as hard as we can.”