After weeks of playing against each other, Texas football prepares for a new foe in Louisiana
Bijan Robinson says he's looking forward to seeing a defender who isn't wearing burnt orange.
Don't get Texas' sophomore running back wrong. He enjoys practicing against the Longhorns' defense. But he's been doing that on a nearly daily basis for the past month. And the team is only a few months removed from spring workouts.
So he's more than happy to help host the vermillion-and-white Ragin' Cajuns from No. 23 Louisiana on Saturday, when the No. 21 Longhorns open their season at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
"I love playing against our defense, but you know at some point, you just want to play against somebody else," Robinson said Tuesday. "That's a talented team over there."
Texas beat Louisiana by combined scores of 112-13 when these two teams first met in 2000 and 2005, but these aren't the same Ragin' Cajuns. New UT coach Steve Sarkisian will make his debut against a Louisiana team that went 10-1 last year and split the Sun Belt Conference's championship with Coastal Carolina.
Led by all-conference quarterback Levi Lewis — who needs just 11 touchdown passes to break Jake Delhomme's career record at the school — Louisiana is set to bring back 10 starters on offense. Last year, the Ragin' Cajuns averaged 33.6 points per game. In nine of its 11 games last year, Louisiana exceeded the year-end average of its opponent's scoring defense.
"They're a heck of a football team," Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said. "You can tell that they've been playing together for awhile, the way that they move around, the way that they do things offensively.
"It's gonna be a great game, great opponent. But we've got something on our side of the ball too ready for them."
Texas players met with reporters over Zoom on Tuesday. For perhaps the first time this summer, this media rigmarole didn't just feature the same questions about the quarterback battle and adapting to a new coach. There was an actual opponent to discuss.
When asked for his assessment of Louisiana, Robinson said that "they have a lot of great talent on defense." Robinson noted that the Ragin' Cajuns have experience on that side of the ball. Like its offense, Louisiana also returns 10 starters on defense.
Louisiana did allow seven 100-yard rushing performances in 2020. The 22.0 points and 355.4 yards that it gave up respectively ranked 31st and 33rd nationally. (Texas finished outside the top-60 in both categories).
"I love playing against that kind of a team and that kind of a challenge," said Robinson, who closed out his freshman year with 172- and 183-yard outbursts. "I'm just ready to go against them."
This marks only the fourth time since 1993 that Texas has stared down a ranked team to start a season. In fact, five of UT's last 10 season-opening opponents had posted a losing record the previous year.
Senior wide receiver Joshua Moore said Texas wasn't that focused on the Ragin' Cajuns' recent success. Moore, who caught a 78-yard touchdown pass on the first play of last year's season opener, insisted that Louisiana will be treated like any other opponent.
"(Louisiana), they're a good, veteran team," Moore said. "The rankings don't really matter, in my opinion. At the end of the day, you've still got to come out and play football in between the lines to prove what your rank is. We're looking forward to Saturday and doing what we do best."
No. 23 Louisiana at No. 21 Texas, 3:30 p.m., Fox, 104.9