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Texas vs. UL Lafayette: Five questions facing the Longhorns

Hookem

Five questions facing No. 19 Texas against No. 23 Louisiana on Saturday (3:30 p.m., Fox):

1. Will we have more QB1 questions or answers?

For the first time since the Longhorns' 2017 Texas Bowl, Sam Ehlinger won't be starting at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Hudson Card will get his first career starting nod. New head coach Steve Sarkisian has publicly committed to Card as his starter only for the Louisiana game. He also said this week that backup Casey Thompson will play Saturday. Will Card do enough to put an Ehlinger-like stranglehold on this starting spot? Or can Thompson reopen this competition into the season?

2. How many touches will Bijan Robinson get?

Robinson closed out his first season with 172- and 183-yard rushing performances against Kansas State and Colorado. The running back compiled those 355 yards on 19 carries as former Texas coach Tom Herman stuck to his season-long plan to limit his workload. As a freshman, Robinson finished with only 86 carries. He never had a 20-carry game. Sarkisian has hinted that Robinson will get more work in his offense. Will that promise be fulfilled against an experienced Louisiana defense? 

Earlier this summer, new Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, watching Bijan Robinson during practice, said the sophomore running back could get about 20 touches a game.

3. What will Xavier Worthy do in his UT debut?

Worthy, a four-star freshman wide receiver, was listed as a starter on Texas' depth chart this week. Joshua Moore, the team's leading receiver last year, has said that Worthy reminds him of himself. Defensive lineman Keondre Coburn insisted earlier this summer that "that dude right there's another Tyreek Hill in college." In his first game, how will Worthy fare against a Cajuns secondary that ranked sixth nationally last year in pass defense (170.6 yards per game)? 

4. Will the Longhorns get to Louisiana's Levi Lewis?

When asked this week who would lead Texas in sacks this season, Coburn joked that if it's him, "I better get a big meal or something." The first task for Coburn and his fellow pass rushers will be to chase down Lewis, a veteran dual-threat quarterback. Last season, Louisiana allowed an average of fewer than one sack per game, its 0.82 mark ranking No. 7 in the country. On Saturday, Lewis will be protected by an offensive line that will feature four returning starters.

5. Texas is back (for another season) but will the fans be?

Since capacity was capped last year because of the pandemic, Texas never hosted more than 18,202 fans for any of its five games at Royal-Memorial Stadium. But starting Saturday, the gates will be wide open again. Bevo Boulevard is back, and the Longhorns have a new coach and a refurbished south end zone to show off. However, temperatures will be nearing 100 degrees come kickoff, and COVID-19 is not close to being a thing of the past. Will fans stay away or will Texas get a full house?

Danny Davis