Football

Maryland 34, Texas 29: Our five pregame questions — answered

Posted September 1st, 2018

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Revisiting our five pregame questions that were facing the Longhorns ahead of Saturday’s 34-29 loss at Maryland.

Here’s how they played out:

1. Did Texas stop the run?

Yes.

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Maryland, which scorched the Longhorns for 263 rushing yards last year, mustered 143 on Saturday, an average of 3.1 yards (last year: 6.1). Last year’s opener was the worst rushing defense performance of the season for the Longhorns. Ty Johnson, who had the big 132-yard game last year, had only 30 yards on 11 carries.

2. Did the Longhorns establish the run?

No.

The Longhorns averaged 3.9 yards per carry, but neither Tre Watson (12 carries for 52 yards, no touchdowns), Keaontay Ingram (6-37-1) nor Daniel Young (8-27) really flashed in the running game or set himself apart from anyone else. The Terps allowed five 100-yard rushers last season. Ingram scored his first career touchdown and had Texas’ longest run (18 yards). But the running back situation continues to be a work in progress.

3. Which freshmen showed up?

Four, for sure.

Ingram averaged 6.1 yards per carry, had the team’s longest run and notched his first career touchdown. Caden Sterns had a big hit in the first quarter and had good coverage on an incompletion in the end zone in the fourth. B.J. Foster sniffed out a screen pass with a nice solo tackle that led to a punt. D’Shawn Jamison looked good returning kicks. There were 10 freshmen on Texas’ two-deep this week; Sterns became the first true freshman start a season opener for UT since quarterback Shane Buechele and center Zach Shackelford took the field against Notre Dame in 2016.

4. Did the new punter resemble the old punter?

No.

Well, let’s backtrack that a little bit. Ryan Bujcevski — filling the formidable cleats of Michael Dickson, his cousin who was college football’s best punter last year — certainly looked like Dickson with his booming 56-yarder on his first attempt. But things went south from there, including a 15-yard shank from the end zone that set up an easy Maryland score. He averaged 37.6 yards on nine punts. Remember Dickson’s 10-yard shank that set up Oklahoma State’s game-winning field goal back in 2015, only his fourth career game? In that respect, yes, maybe Texas’ new punter did resemble its old one.

5. Did Texas miss any of those Texas Exes?

Yes.

The Longhorns could have used DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill; the Terps exploited the secondary with a couple of wide-open pass plays. Kasim Hill was 17 of 29 for 222 yards, including a big 65-yarder to Jeshaun Jones. Chris Nelson — this year’s Poona Ford — had five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The post-Connor Williams offensive line allowed only one sack.

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