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Behind Enemy Lines: Texas Longhorns

We learn about the 3rd best team in Texas

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Our friends at Burnt Orange Nation are a flagship community at SB Nation. Fitting for a flagship university in the great state of Texas. Gerald Goodridge at that community couldn’t be nicer, and as such, he answered my very basic question ahead of tonight’s Alamo Bowl.

For reference, the Valero Alamo Bowl is tonight at 7 P.M. Mountain Time, televised on ESPN.

Bijan Robinson is a complete freak of nature. Where does he rank among Texas stud RBs (there’s a ton) and how can CU try to slow him down?

It’s too early to tell where he ranks after just a handful of starts, but if he continues to deliver on the standard he set this year he has the potential to be one of the greats. His most-recent comparison for play style and body type is a slightly bulkier Alvin Kamara. He’s more elusive than a 6-foot, 220-pound back should be, but has the body to run through contact and make people miss in space. The biggest knock on him is probably his top-end speed, but he’s fast enough to be a consistent playmaker and he cracked off several big runs this year. The big thing that could limit his potential is the Longhorns’ recent struggles to recruit and develop offensive linemen.

Sam Ehlinger is an established commodity at this point. How do Texas fans feel about the QB and who will he be throwing to?

There is this weird set of emotions Texas fans have around Ehlinger. The impact he’s had in his four years has been massive and he has the opportunity to break some more records in the bowl game. It’s undeniable that there are some games that Texas loses if Sam Ehlinger is not the quarterback, but there are also just as clearly some of his limitations cost Texas. The receiver group is kind of muddled, especially with Brennan Eagles skipping the bowl game. There’s not been a ton of separation at the outside receiver spots, so that may be a struggle in the game. Texas has a ton of talent at the inside receiver spots, thanks to Jake Smith and Jordan Whittington.

There have been some opt-outs on the Texas football team, including players like Sam Cosmi and Joseph Ossai. How motivated do you think Texas will be in this game?

Among the many knocks on Tom Herman, his teams always seem to be up for bowl games. They’ve knocked off top-10 teams in back-to-back years, including the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs who were a win away from a berth in the College Football Playoff. There’s a lot of talk about their opponents “not being motivated” for the games, but I always think that’s overblown. I think this game will be an opportunity for a lot of guys to get a head start positioning themselves for a year that will feature a lot of turnover among the starters.

Tom Herman has been a hot topic of discussion in the college football community. It has been announced that he is returning next year. What does he need to do to be successful in the future?

Let’s talk about the statement from Chris Del Conte and how non-committal it was. That statement was so non-committal that local reporters had to reach out to the school to clarify that it was indeed a statement that he would return for 2021 and frankly I still don’t 100% believe it. The hard part about Herman is that the way Texas fans tell it, the Titanic has broken in half and we’re all dying. Herman alienated a lot of boosters early with his personality and publicly backing his players stance on ‘The Eyes of Texas’ made things worse. The fires hit fever pitch after Sam Ehlinger was spotted singing ‘The Eyes of Texas’ on his own following the loss to OU, which was misconstrued to be something it wasn’t. The Longhorn Band wasn’t present to play the school song all year because of COVID and nobody knew that it would be played following the game, so players went to the locker room.

The real problem for Herman is that in the past years he has been able to sell recruits on potential and the future, but most of the Texas media and fans fired the head coach on Twitter after the OU game. But to answer your question, quit losing games you should win. OU played so bad against Texas that they pulled Spencer Rattler in the first half and Texas lost that game. Talent-for-talent, TCU had no business being on the field against Texas and Texas lost that game, making him 1-4 against Gary Patterson. Iowa State is a very good team, but the Texas defense held Breece Hall — arguably one of the best backs in the country — to his only sub-100-yard game this year and Texas couldn’t score for the final 25 minutes of that game. It’s made worse because it seems like Texas A&M has it figured out.

Win football games. Winning shuts up the big money, because it lets them brag to their other obscenely rich friends.

What is your favorite memory of the Buffs, if you have one?

I have this weird love for Kordell Stewart. He played at CU before Texas joined the Big 12 and I am not even close to being a Steelers fan, but my dad always loved to cheer for him so I did too. The Joel Klatt and 70-3 jokes are really easy to make here, so I’m going to go off the beaten path a little bit. Running Ralphie onto the field is easily one of the BEST traditions in football and I always love to watch it. I’ll never forget Jim Knox running with Ralphie pregame and getting LEVELED by a security guard. It was beautiful.

If Bevo and Ralphie joined forces, what would it take to stop them?

I’m sure there’s some trophy hunter licking his chops at the prospect, but if we’re going strictly animal kingdom, it would be a tough matchup. Maybe if the Texas Tech Masked Rider let the Trojan and Traveler teamed up, it could be a tough matchup.