The Maryland football team opens the 2017 season with a tough test on the road against Texas.
After a mediocre 5-7 season in 2016, the Longhorns still have plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Texas did lose star running back D’Onta Foreman to the NFL Draft. Foreman rushed for 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards-per-carry.
Texas finished in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 in terms of their offensive output last season despite Foreman’s stellar numbers. The Longhorns averaged 31.9 points-per-game, but scored just 383 points on the season, which was the third lowest in the conference.
Their 252 passing yards per contest were good for eighth out of the 10-team league.
Let’s take a closer look at what talent is returning and what to expect from them on Saturday.
Texas hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in recent years when it comes to the quarterback position. David Ash completed 67.3 percent of his passes and threw for 19 touchdowns back in 2012, but that was really the only overwhelming success story under center recently.
Shane Buechele came in as a true freshman and had one heck of a season for the Longhorns. The Arlington (Tex.) native completed 60.4 percent of his passes for a grand total of 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Buechele was extremely efficient throughout the 2016 season and started off the year by completing 71.7 percent of his throws and tossing six touchdowns and just one interception. The freshman began the campaign by leading Texas to a 50-47 double overtime victory over Notre Dame.
The sophomore signal caller is a player that is athletic and can climb in the pocket. Buechele can make the deep throws, which he did quite a bit last season.
Due to his mobility, Buechele could present problems for Maryland’s front seven. The Terrapins are going to have to get consistent pressure on him and come up with a few sacks at the very least in order to stay in the game.
Kyle Porter/Chris Warren III
While Maryland has a sensational running game, the Texas ground attack isn’t too shabby either.
Kyle Porter and Chris Warren III both averaged at least 4.5 yards-per-carry in relief of Foreman in 2016. Warren had a slight edge with 62 carries for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
Porter didn’t find the end zone, but did record 46 attempts for 206 yards on the year. When the Longhorns released their depth chart for the Maryland game earlier this week, Porter was listed at the top.
Porter is a back that really thrives on yards-after-contact. Once a defender crosses paths with the sophomore tailback, it’s far from a play that’s over despite Porter’s smaller stature.
On the other hand, Warren is also an extremely talented back that many think could take the job and run with it throughout the season.
Warren suffered a season-ending injury in just the fourth game of the year in 2016. He rushed for at least 95 yards in three of his four contests, including a pair of games in which he topped the century mark.
As a freshman in 2015, Warren rushed for a Texas single-game record of 276 yards and four touchdowns against Texas Tech. He also thrived in this game when he met contact and busted off a 91-yard touchdown run.
The combination of Porter and Warren is going to definitely keep Maryland honest throughout Saturday’s game. Maryland’s front seven is going to have their hands full, especially if Texas has success with the running game early on.
Collin Johnson/Devin Duvernay
Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay were two of six Texas wide receivers to haul in three touchdowns last season.
However, they are two very different wideouts.
Johnson is the big red zone target for the Longhorns. In 2016, he caught 28 passes for 315 yards and averaged 11.3 yards-per-catch.
Johnson isn’t flashy, but he’s definitely capable of being a threat in the corner of the end zone when Texas gets in the red zone.
On the other hand, Duvernay averaged 20.6 yards-per-catch and grabbed 20 receptions for 412 yards. He had four games in which he caught at least one pass of 40 or more yards.
Duvernay is an absolute burner that can get separation at a moment’s notice. If he catches the ball in the open field, it’s likely a foregone conclussion that Duvernay is taking that ball to the house.
The combination of Johnson and Duvernay is certainly going to pose a significant challenge to the Terps. Maryland’s secondary is young, but could be very underrated this year, so this will be a great test to start off the campaign.