Wilson: The Most Pessimistic Texas Longhorns Preview on the Internet
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tom Herman and Sam Ehlinger
Texas 2019 Betting Odds
- National Title: 25-1
- To Win Big 12: +350
- To Make The Playoff: 6-1
- Win Total: 9
Texas Schedule, Projected Spreads
What to Like about Texas
Sam Ehlinger has every right to feel like a top team in the nation after ranking top 25 in pass efficiency, completion rate and third down success rate. The offensive line has losses but is anchored by returning senior starters at center and left tackle. Offensive line coach Herb Hand is one of the best in the country and should maintain a sack rate in the top 50.
Ehlinger is complimented by the return of Collin Johnson. The wide receiver had 109 targets in 2018 and is considered the best option at the position for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Texas WR Collin Johnson went FLYING for the TD catch!
The Longhorns took down No. 17 TCU! pic.twitter.com/5b1EAZADyw
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2018
What Could Cause Problems
Texas has the worst returning production ranking of any Power 5 team. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Longhorns lack talent after finishing third overall in recruiting the past two years. The issue at hand is depth and preseason camp is already starting to prove the theory.
Texas says RB Keontay Ingram (bone bruise knee) and S Caden Sterns (ankle sprain) should be ready for Aug. 31 season opener against Louisiana Tech #HookEm
— Jim Vertuno (@JimVertuno) August 12, 2019
Tom Herman is known for having physical practices, but the depth on this Longhorns roster may run thin leading up to the season. The linebacker unit has just two players that have made a game tackle, while the cornerbacks have a total of just one pass breakup on the roster.
Explosiveness has been another issue for Texas. In Tom Herman’s two seasons as head coach, the offense has a rank of 109th and 115th in overall IsoPPP. The largest issue is in rush explosiveness with a two year rank of 122nd and 130th. This leaves teams an easy option to put a spy on Ehlinger and to drop as many defenders in pass protection.
On defense, the Longhorns edge rushers have not been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. A passing downs sack rate of 95th and 96th over the past two seasons has allowed teams upset Texas. Teams like Tulsa and Kansas had similar total yards and lost by one score.
Victories over Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech had a post game win expectancy of less than 32% in 2018, so the Horns got a little lucky.
Tom Herman is most famously known for being an excellent motivator in underdog situations — he’s 13-2 ATS and 10-5 straight up as a dog since taking over Houston in 2015.
That will help in games against LSU and Oklahoma, but Texas should be favored in at least eight games this season. Herman’s record as a favorite of -6 or more is in stark contrast to his record as an underdog.
Louisiana Tech (which I already took at +21 in The Action Network app), Rice and Kansas are just a few of the spots on the schedule where the Horns may be sleeping. While there may never be a good time to back the Jayhawks, they will roll into Austin off a bye week after the Red River Rivalry.
Rice is also nearly impossible to bet on, but the Owls show up on the Texas schedule after a premiere game against LSU.
Bets to Watch
The Action Network win total is set at 6.1. This may be the lowest projection in the nation, but is a result of second-order win total, returning production and net turnovers from 2018.
Ehlinger to Johnson will be one of the best offensive duo’s in the nation, but the roster is thin on depth.
Texas Under 9 is a play I have backed with my own money all summer. This should be another profitable season fading Tom Herman as a favorite, and backing the Longhorns as an underdog.