It’s Week Two, and No. 9 Texas is considered an underdog in their 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. Lucky for the Longhorns, Tom Herman has a history of success as an underdog and is 13–2–1 against the spread since 2015.
LSU’s unit is strong; quarterback Joe Burrow finished with an 85.2% completion rate in their 55-3 win over Georgia Southern. Texas must be strong in every facet of the game Saturday, and the coaching staff is already moving to get the team ready.
“This will be as talented of a defense as we have seen in our time here,” head coach Tom 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 running back issues. Former quarterback Roschon Johnson recently moved to the position and had nine touches for 40 yards against Louisiana Tech. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck already sees him getting more comfortable in the position.
“(Roschon) is continually showing signs,” Beck said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We all know he’s a very special athlete, gifted. But he’s starting to show signs of being more comfortable there.”
Adding depth will be former linebacker David Gbena, who has practiced at running back this week as an emergency option. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said Gbenda has ways to go but can see him playing in that position.
“We felt like he was a guy who can run,” Beck said. “He played it before. I think he played some in high school, so he was willing to do it … And defensively, they felt like ‘Hey, give him a look and see what happens.’ So that’s kind of what we’re doing.”
Defensively, Texas is looking to improve upon a lackluster performance from the secondary, particularly the cornerbacks. Though Jalen Green finished with five total tackles, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is looking for improvement from the other corners.
“It’s still ongoing. We evaluate every day,” Orlando said. “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, two days separate them from the biggest game of Week Two. Even with all the hype, Orlando is confident the Longhorn’s 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.”