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Texas aims to bounce back against 1-1 San Jose State

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Tom Herman will seek his first win as Longhorns head coach on Saturday.

NCAA Football: South Florida at San Jose State Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When I wrote my initial preseason preview of San Jose State, I claimed that San Jose State would simply be a "tune up game" for the 'Horns.

Yeah, about that...

Instead, this game could now serve as an indicator of just how far things can go south for the 'Horns.

Texas has much more to lose than to win in this one. A commanding win would be pleasant, but expected. If Texas loses? It would signal arguably the rock bottom point for the program in recent memory.

Not to mention, Texas may be relying on a freshman quarterback who has no college experience. Shane Buechele sat out of practice once again on Wednesday with a shoulder injury, opening the door for Sam Ehlinger to potentially notch his first in-game experience on Saturday.

The 'Horns will be facing off against a team that has looked fairly competent thus far. San Jose State currently sits at 1-1 after thrashing Division 1-AA Cal Poly 34-13 last Saturday.

Perhaps more impressively, the Spartans overpowered Charlie Strong's South Florida team in the first quarter of week one by jumping out to a 16-0 lead. San Jose State ultimately fell 42-22, but proved it could hang with talented teams.

The Spartans are led by a first-year coach in Brent Brennan and another first-year in freshman quarterback Montel Aaron. Aaron was named as the starter for this weekend's match-up after completing 11 of 17 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns against Cal Poly.

Aaron is a pocket passer who does not present much of a threat to run, although he can scramble if necessary. He posted four rushes for 30 yards in the spring game, and has three rushes in the regular season thus far.

The Spartans do feature a very capable running back in Zamore Zigler. Zigler rushed for 423 yards on 5.4 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman last year, and has jumped out to an even better start in 2017. Zigler has recorded 141 yards on 21 carries so far, and also has a touchdown to his name.

The Spartans have solid pass defense, and held star USF QB Quinton Flowers to 11-23 and 212 yards. Cal Poly only amassed 37 total passing yards in the game, completing just four passes.

Ehlinger and even Buechele (should he be ready to play) could be tested early by the experienced secondary which returned four starters from last year. One welcome for the 'Horns signal callers is that SJSU has not recorded any interceptions this year.

San Jose State's rush defense is a different story, as the Spartans allowed 315 yards on the ground to USF and 196 yards to Cal Poly.

The question is — can Texas capitalize on porous run defense? The 'Horns looked lost without D'onta Foreman leading the way last week, and neither Kyle Porter or Chris Warren III ever seemed to get into a groove behind a dicey offensive line.


It will be a slow process for the 'Horns to regain their dignity after the embarrassing Week 1 loss to Maryland. No matter what happens this week, Texas fans will probably still emerge not entirely confident with the state of the season.

For now, Texas must simply patch up the errors from last week — don't make special teams mistakes, don't let your quarterback take a beating, and please, please don't give up 51 points.

If Texas comes out and executes, it wouldn't mean that the problems are fixed, but it would mean something. That must suffice for now.

Here's to hoping for a healthy Shane Buechele, and if not that, a coming out party for Sam Ehlinger.

Texas will kick off at 2:30 pm CST on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal Stadium, and the game will be on the Longhorn Network.

The season ain't over — hook 'em.