Now slotted as the No. 11 team in the nation by the AP poll, the Texas Longhorns (1-0) enter Saturday evening’s meeting with the UTEP Miners (1-0) ranked for the first time since 2013 looking to build on an electrifying start to the season.
UTEP, led by head coach Sean Kugler, also won its season opener with a 38-22 victory over New Mexico State, but the odds certainly aren’t in the Miners’ favor when they roll into Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Virtually across the board, Texas will have the positional advantage and another opportunity to showcase what many hope becomes a routine of 50-point games in Austin (and elsewhere) courtesy of Sterlin Gilbert’s veer-and-shoot offense.
It’s going to be a stretch, to say the least, for UTEP to leave Austin 2-0 Saturday night, but with a elite-level running back set to headline the Miners’ clock-eating offense and a team that Kugler says has a chip on its shoulder after its players were never recruited by Texas, we could be in for a game that is, at the least, competitive through the first half.
Here’s a look at some of the must-know information to gear up for Texas’ second game of the season:
- UTEP starting QB Zach Greenlee will miss the Texas game with three different injuries:
The starter for UTEP will be sophomore Kavika Johnson, a 6’1, 205-pounder who is best described as an athlete after playing quarterback and tailback last year and starting the 2016 season at wide receiver, catching two passes for 26 yards.
- Texas looks to take advantage of an undersized UTEP defensive front:
Make no mistake, this is a solid run defense against most opponents, but UTEP finished a rather mediocre No. 71 in rushing defense S&P+ last season and simply doesn’t have the size to compete against Texas in the trenches or at the second level.
- Vance Bedford knows the defense must improve, stop UTEP running back Aaron Jones:
“That’s all I can think about,” Bedford said. “I woke up last night at three o’clock (thinking about) this guy who rushed for 249 yards. I don’t care who you’re going against, he rushed for 249 yards. He’s 215-pounds, he’s wide, he’s quick, he runs downhill. That’s all I could think about when I woke up at three o’clock in the morning: how we going to slow this cat down?”
- Texas could be without as many as four starters, including three on offense:
The ‘Horns reportedly could be without three key starters on offense — senior right guard Kent Perkins, sophomore left tackle Connor Williams, and senior tight end Caleb Bluiett, according to the Longhorn Network.
The school says that none were ruled out as of just more than an hour before kickoff.
All three players are key cogs in a Texas rushing attack that experienced a great deal of success last week against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
How to watch, listen, and stream
TV: Longhorn Network
Time: 6:05 p.m. CT
Commentary: Lowell Galindo will handle the play-by-play call while Ahmad Brooks and Keith Moreland provide analysis. Dawn Davenport will be on the sidelines.
Radio: Longhorn Radio Network, Sirius XM Channel 91
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Weather: 91 degrees, 50 percent chance of thunderstorms
Odds: Texas (-30)
Get a brand-new 18 Wheeler t-shirt here. Grab one before your friends do!