Texas wins if, Texas loses if: Week One presents matchup with Louisiana Tech

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Texas receiver Devin Duvernay (2) catches a pass against Iowa State's D'Andre Payne during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 15, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 27-6.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Michael Thomas

While the much awaited matchup with that other school from Louisiana is next week, the 2019 season opener against Louisiana Tech has arrived. Longhorn nation is excited to see what this year can be after last year’s dominant win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season.

Texas comes into this matchup with a young but talented defense, which has the tall task of replacing eight starters. But with a defense led by senior safety Brandon Jones and star sophomore safety Caden Sterns, there is reason for excitement. On offense, the team brings back senior receiver Collin Johnson, sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram and junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger in what could be the most explosive offense fans have seen under Tom Herman.

Here’s how the season’s opening game could go:

Texas wins if … 

… it shuts down the explosive offense of the Bulldogs. 

The offense of Louisiana Tech has led to five-straight winning seasons, and does not look to have slowed down in 2019. Led by a trio of offensive talents in fifth-year senior quarterback J’Mar Smith, junior receiver Adrian Hardy and fifth-year senior running back Jaqwis Dancy, the Bulldog offense has some playmakers on that side of the ball. Saturday will show if Texas can successfully slow them down.

… the running backs play well and stay healthy. 

It is no secret that the running back depth of the team has been tested this offseason, with three leaving via transfer or graduation. A shoulder sprain and now a high ankle sprain have taken players out of commission, leaving Texas with two scholarship backs. Ingram, the victim of a tweaked knee, looks like he will be available Week One. Sharing touches in the backfield will be true freshman Jordan Whittington, who was recruited as a wide receiver and safety. If the Longhorns want to win, they need to have a balanced attack, and to do that, the available running backs will need to play well.

… senior receiver Devin Duvernay proves he can stretch the field. 

The tandem of Johnson and current New Orleans Saint Lil’Jordan Humphrey lit up defenses last year, but Humphrey is now catching passes from Drew Brees. To maintain the offensive production from last year, someone has to step up, and Duvernay is set up to do so. His elite speed can take the top off of defenses, and can allow Ehlinger the chance for deep throws. More importantly, defenses have to pay attention to Duvernay, leaving additional holes in the defense for exploitation. Texas will put themselves in a good position if they can take advantage of the mismatches Duvernay presents.

Texas loses if … 

… it underestimates the competition on the field. 

Very talented Texas teams of the past two years suffered Week One defeats to the Maryland Terrapins, a team that did not boast similar levels of talent. The expectations this year are higher than they have been in recent memory, and with LSU looming, it may be easy to look past weaker Week One competition. That would be a fatal mistake, as the Bulldogs sport a squad with some talent. If Texas lets Louisiana Tech take a double-digit lead, it could spell trouble.

… the young defense faces extreme growing pains. 

Texas features new starters on every level, from the defensive line to the secondary. While back-to-back top-three recruiting classes pumped a wealth of talent into the roster, that talent is young and unproven. If the potent offense of the Bulldogs can challenge the defense early and often, Texas could have a shootout on its hands.