The Longhorns can take solace in their touchdown returns, but they will need Rowland to turn it around going forward.
Big plays still burn defense
Like the special teams, Texas’ defense didn’t do the team any favors last season. The unit was burned by big play after big play en route to becoming one of the Big 12’s worst.
Maryland found those massive holes in Texas’ defense on opening day. Quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome and company torched the Longhorns to the tune of 8.3 yards per play for the game.
Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s group had a particularly tough time stopping the run. The Terps racked up 6.1 yards per carry and 263 yards on the ground, seeing little resistance as the burnt orange missed tackle after tackle.
In all, Maryland accumulated 12 plays of 10 or more yards for the game, including four touchdowns from at least 20 yards out.
The Longhorns will try to patch up their defense when San Jose State comes to town next weekend.
Mixed bag for offense
After shining as a dynamic unit in 2016, the Longhorns offense failed to show up in the first half on Saturday. Texas struggled to move the ball early, failing to crack the Terps’ red zone before halftime. The unit didn’t score a point in the first half; the team relied on Holton Hill’s two return touchdowns for its scoring.
The Longhorns’ offense finally showed some life in the third quarter when Buechele hit senior Armanti Foreman for a 33-yard touchdown. That ignited three straight touchdown drives, including one off a punt return.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele had an up-and-down day. He showed off his signature accuracy while 34-of-52 passes. However, he struggled in the fourth quarter, failing to pick up first downs with the game on the line. In total, he managed 375 yards and two scores through the air, along with a rushing touchdown, after a slow start.
Texas has a talented group on offense, and first outings in a new offense often don’t go well. Still, there’s reason for Herman to be concerned about the group.
Herman’s gambles come up short
Herman took chance after chance during Saturday’s contest.
He sent the Longhorns offense out on four different fourth downs from different areas of the field. He also attempted a two-point conversion in the third quarter.
Herman’s gambles didn’t pay off against the Terps. The Longhorns finished the game 0-4 on fourth downs. A particularly crucial miss came in the fourth quarter, when Maryland sacked Buechele to set up a 52-yard touchdown drive.
Texas will have to do better on the money downs as the season goes on. The mishaps cost the team both potential points in the red zone and field position.
Expect the Longhorns to work on fourth-down situations in practice this week.