Jeramey Gillilan: Texas. Texas Tech. The 2019 regular-season closes with one of my favorite match ups of the year, but Gerald could you tell us a little bit about the mood surrounding this game and the season for the Texas Longhorns?
Gerald Goodridge: Sour is probably the best description. Texas fans were really excited about the Longhorns coming out of last year’s impressive win over the Georgia Bulldogs on a national stage. Then the preseason and early-season injuries happened and the wheels seemingly have come off since. Fans were justifiably upset with a defense that gave up six career-high performances to quarterbacks, but the anger seemingly intensified when the defense got healthy and improved while the bottom seemed to fall out of the offense. Fans are frustrated and Tom Herman even said they were justified in their frustrations when he addressed the media. Texas fans are always pissed at the coach for one reason or another, but when the coach agrees with you it’s jumped to a different level.
JG: The line is currently Texas by 10 and the over/under is 63.5 - how do you feel about that for the Longhorns’s final home game of the season given the unique situation of both these teams?
GG: That terrifies me because I’m a pessimist, but I’m less nervous than I would be if Texas beat Baylor a week ago. For some reason, I feel like Texas coming off of getting pantsed by Rhule and Co. will get them fired up, especially with Herman saying that he’s in evaluation mode as it pertains to the staff. However, the last time Texas had a coach on the hot seat they lost to Kansas and laid an egg against TCU, effectively showing Charlie the door. That being said, I don’t think the leaders on this team have quit and especially the seniors that they’re honoring on Friday, so I hope they come out ready to play and go out with a win.
JG: The Longhorns are beat to hell, it seems, with 12 players “questionable” or “out” for the game. Let’s talk a little offense. How is Ehlinger doing this year, what’s been impressive and what’s been depressive? Also who does he have left to rely on in this game to put up numbers against the Texas Tech defense? Is there anything from this Texas Tech defense that gives you pause?
GG: Sam Ehlinger has seemingly been two different players in the two halves of this season. In the first six games he went toe-to-toe with the likely Heisman winner Joe Burrow and played well enough for Texas to have a shot at knocking off Oklahoma in Dallas. The last few weeks have been tough and against Baylor he went without a touchdown, just the second time that has happened in his career with the only other coming in a game he left after two series due to an injury. A big reason why is that Collin Johnson has been battling injuries and although Devin Duvernay is the one that gets the stats, Johnson really sets what the defense can and can’t do against Texas. So without him, teams are able to clamp down on Duvernay and the other guys really haven’t stepped up as much as they could have. I think you’ll see a heavy diet of Malcolm Epps and Brennan Eagles along with Duvernay on Friday.
I think the think that scares me the most is that Ehligner has thrown seven of his nine interceptions in the last five games and Tech has defenders that are absolute ball hawks. If Sam tries to play hero ball and throw into impossible coverage, that number will jump significantly on Friday.
JG: Now defensively, Texas went from acclaimed DBU (which, come on, there’s only one Dallas Baptist) to can’t-buy-a-stop in some games. What kind of adversity is Todd Orlando dealing with that has fans calling for his job? Who are the players left on the defensive that Red Raider fans should expect to hear about Friday? How do you feel about their chances against this balanced Texas Tech attack?
GG: That’s a fantastic question. I think Orlando gets a bit of a pass from some folks because when the defense was awful they were held together with bubble gum and duct tape. When the Texas defense was healthy, they were able to hold two of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this year in check and held LSU to one fewer point that Alabama did. I think the guys to look out for on defense are senior captain Brandon Jones, who has played really well in the last few weeks as well as safety Chris Brown who is coming back from an injury and has really been solid for Texas. I think this will be one of the most interesting tests of the last few weeks, because Orlando is great at identifying what a team wants to do and scheming to shut it down, but Tech is really balanced so I want to see what his gameplan is.
JG: For Texas to win, __________ has to have a big game
GG: Roschon Johnson needs to have a big game. When Sam Ehlinger is asked to make all the plays, Texas loses. With Keaontay Ingram likely slowed due to injury, the guy who stepped up when Texas had one running back needs to step up and take some of the load off of Ehlinger.
JG: For Tech to win, they will have done _________ well.
GG: They will have confused the Texas offensive line well (I don’t know if that grammar is spot-on, but it works for me). Texas’ worst games this year have been because teams were able to out-scheme Herb Hand and his group. I think a lot of that falls on center Zach Shackelford, who has looked really bad in a few spots this year. Communication and quick feet will be a winner for Texas in the trenches.
JG: WHO GETS AXED IN THE OFFSEASON?!
GG: TE and Special Teams coach Derek Warehime is a guy I have thought would get fired after the Oklahoma State debacle when Texas nearly lost the game due to fumbled punts. I think OC Tim Beck will likely take a reduced role in the offense or find his way out the door. Few guys on this coaching staff have a contract past this year, but Herman is too big on continuity and alignment to let it be a bloodbath.
JG: How do you see things shaking out in DKR? Does Texas break the back-and-forth win at eachother’s stadium streak we’ve been on?
GG: I am trying to take off the Burnt Orange glasses for this one. I think Texas struggles again, but on the foot of Cameron Dicker Texas wins via walk-off for the third time this season 31-28.
BIG shotout to Gerald Goodridge for taking time out of his holiday to respond to our questions, be sure to give him a follow on Twitter @ghgoodridge