AUSTIN - After two straight wins at home, the 11th ranked Texas Longhorns will head to California this Saturday for a game against the California Golden Bears.
Cal is coming off a loss to the San Diego State Aztecs and are 1-1 on the season with a victory over Hawaii in the season opener. Texas stormed out of the gates this season with a double-overtime victory over then 10th ranked Notre Dame and followed that up with a 41-7 thumping of UTEP.
The Longhorns offense has woken up in 2016 thanks to the two-headed quarterback attack of Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes. The Longhorns are averaging 45.5 points per game in 2016, good for fourth in the Big 12 Conference and almost 20 points more than the team averaged in 2015.
Head coach Charlie Strong said he is seeing confidence starting to show up in his offense and he said the offensive staff is doing an “unbelievable job.”
“We have been able to run the ball, we have a physical nature about us, and then throw the ball,” Strong said, according to KVUE news partner the Austin American-Statesman. “If you want to load the box, okay, we’re going to throw it overhead. And we also can line it up and run it.”
And while much of the attention has been on Texas’ offense, it’s the defense that is starting to assert its will in the first two games. Strong said his goal in the offseason was to hold opponents to 13 points or less, but admitted that’s easier said than done.
“What’s happening now is offenses are moving the football and they’re able to score points on defenses,” Strong said, according to the Statesman. “They’re gonna move the football, they’ve been moving the football, so it’s not like we’re going to go in there and just shut them down.”
Still, two games into the season, Texas’ rush defense is allowing 170.5 yards per game, good for sixth in the Big 12. The pass defense is much better ranking third in the Big 12, allowing 155.5 yards per game. With Cal’s Air Raid offense on the schedule next for the Horns; that pass defense will be tested.
Cal is ranked second in the country in passing offense averaging 481.5 yards per game in 2016, second only to Texas Tech. Overall, the California offense is tied for third in the country, averaging 617 yards per game.
Much like many teams that play an Air Raid style of offense, Cal’s problem is on defense. The Bears rank 107th in the nation in total defense, allowing 472.5 yards per game this year. The Bears are also giving up an average of 38 points per game, 109th worst in the country (Out of 128 teams).
Even though Texas will be a heavy favorite coming into the game, fans still remembers last season’s disaster at Iowa State. But Strong said this is a “totally different team” as they prepare to head on the road this week.
“You have a group of seniors now who really understand what their mission is all about,” Strong said, per the Statesman. “They’re the ones that are really carrying the torch for us. We don’t want to look back at last season because we’re not the same football team.”