Site publisher Chris Dukes, podcaster Dalton Sweat and intern Tomer Barazani answer some questions bout the upcoming Texas-TCU matchup and the general state of the program.
What's the number of points Texas has to score to beat TCU?
Tomer Baranzani, intern: With the problems Texas is facing on defense, Texas’ offense needs to have a big day. Ehlinger will have to throw for 300+ yards and score 36+ points for Texas to make it past TCU.
Dalton Sweat, podcaster: I hope it isn’t 50 again like last week. This TCU offense hasn’t been spectacular, but then again, neither was Kansas’ offense before they faced the worst defense in the Big 12. (Ok so Kansas is ranked 121 in Total Defense out of 130 FBS teams while Texas is ranked 119 but you get the point.) If that keeps up, I think Texas is going to have to score at least 40 to win this ball game – maybe more.
Chris Dukes, site publisher: There's not a ton of confidence in the Texas defense at this point and with good reason, but I think the score won't be nearly as extreme as last week for one simple reason - TCU is going to want to play ball control, eat up clock and keep its defense in a good position. The Horned Frogs aren't built for shootouts and they are going to want to keep the total number of points under 60. Still, I think it's going to take 34 points for the Longhorns to come out of Fort Worth with a win because of the rash of injuries and lack of confidence on the defensive side of the ball.
Where would you rank Sam Ehlinger's current performance among the great quarterback seasons in the history of the program?
Tomer Baranzani, intern: Sam Ehlinger is playing like an elite quarterback this season as he’s already passed the 2000 yard threshold. Ehlinger is playing better than any historic Texas QB besides Vince Young and Colt McCoy. That said, if Ehlinger continues playing this way, he may go down as a better player than McCoy.
Dalton Sweat, podcaster: It is tough comparing quarterbacks by statistics over multiple generations, but Ehlinger is throwing up some incredible numbers. Heck, it is tough to compare stats to just five or 10 years ago. At Texas, quarterbacks are judged by championships, so Ehlinger still has a long way to go to hit that mark. Vince Young in 2005 has to be at the top of the list. You can throw James Street and his 20 game win streak in there from the late 60s. Then it is down to Colt McCoy and Major Applewhite. I think at this point, you’ve got to start with comparisons to those two statistically and see if Ehlinger can win a Big 12 Championship before the statistics really start to matter historically. Otherwise, it is just like throwing up points in garbage time. If you don’t win, how much does it really matter?
Chris Dukes, publisher: I think it has to rank up there with Colt McCoy and Major Applewhite, but maybe not on the level of a Vince Young. His 2005 season is one of the best any college quarterback has ever had at any team. Ehlinger isn't just playing at a high level and putting up big numbers, he's taking the team on his back in lots of situations. As good as he's been in the Longhorns' five wins so far this year, his performance in the two losses really set him apart to me. He nearly willed his team to a win over LSU when the defense couldn't get a stop to save its life. Against Oklahoma, he was beaten up and harassed for four quarters and had guys dropping normally-easy catches, but still had his team in a position to make it a one-score game in the end. One crazy bounce on an onside kick and we may even be talking about a win in a game the Longhorns had no business winning.
Is Todd Orlando on the hot seat if the Horned Frogs score a ton of points on the Longhorns on Saturday?
Tomer Baranzani, intern: Todd Orlando’s seat has already been heating up after allowing the bottom feeder of the conference to drop 48 points on a depleted Texas defense. It’s fair to say that if there isn’t a substantial improvement this weekend, Texas could be searching for a new man to lead their defense, as the university that once prided themselves on “DBU” has been one of the statistically worst defenses in the entire nation.
Dalton Sweat, podcaster: No. The noise from the crowd may be starting to change from a murmur into a dull roar, but Orlando has too many skins on the wall for it to really start to matter. This defense replaced eight starters from last year, has something like nine freshmen or sophomores starting and has been hit by a bevy of injuries. While the defense is playing terrible, sometimes you have to look at things in context, and the truth is the Orlando doesn’t have much to work with and has faced three of the top 10 offenses in the country so far this season. If Texas has a losing streak this season and only wins 6 or 7 games (something I really don’t think is going to happen) I could see Orlando becoming a scapegoat, but beyond that, he should be safe this year.
Chris Dukes publisher: Does anyone remember two short years ago when Texas fans were all but ready to build a statue of Orlando outside the stadium thanks to his salty defense in 2017? It's amazing how quickly a fanbase can start picking up pitchforks and torches when things aren't going great. The Longhorns aren't at an acceptable level on defense by anyone's standard, much less what you expect from a blue blood program. However, there are plenty of factors that go beyond defensive coaching that has led to this circumstance. The defense was always going to be in a transition year because of the high turnover from last year's squad, but injuries have forced guys who should be on the scout team and playing special teams into snaps in meaningful games. Last week we saw Mason Ramirez - a guy who came into the season as a walk-on running back - forced into action at safety on Kansas' go-ahead drive. I think you have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt for now and hope you get to see the kind of defense you expect once the team gets healthy.
On a scale of 1-10, where would you rank Texas' chances of winning a conference title this season right now and why?
Tomer Baranzani, intern:Being entirely honest with ourselves, texas’ performance thus far doesn’t warrant any answer higher than a 3. despite the score showing a close game, the horns were dominated in every aspect by Oklahoma, and Baylor is emerging as a serious contender to knock Texas off its previously established position as the challenger to the Sooners. At this point in the season, the question of “will we even make the conference title game?” seems to be far more appropriate than asking our chances of winning the game.
Dalton Sweat, podcaster: 3. I still think that it comes down to Texas and Oklahoma. I know that Baylor looks like it may be the new No. 2 in the conference, but as long as Texas keeps pulling these games out, they remain favorite to play Oklahoma in my book. The reason for a 3 is because to win the Big 12, Texas still has to beat Oklahoma, if they make it that far, and I believe that may be a bit of a stretch this year. It is possible, but Oklahoma looks like they are on the path for a playoff spot.'
Chris Dukes, site publisher: I would still go with a five overall. The Longhorns are not going to coast to the Big 12 title game like many originally expected, but all of the team's most difficult regular-season games are now behind them. That, plus a bye week after TCU will offer a chance to get guys like Caden Sterns and Jordan Whittington back from injury. Yes, Oklahoma looks like the best team in the conference and it's not really all that close, but Texas has the talent to have a puncher's chance in a potential rematch and possibly ruin their rivals' College Football Playoff hopes.