Maryland Terrapins vs Texas Longhorns: An interview with 4th & 5 Podcast

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 29: Reggie Hemphill-Mapps
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 29: Reggie Hemphill-Mapps /

A week from Saturday on September 2, the Maryland Terrapins take on the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium at noon eastern time. The Baltimore Wire reached out to Will Baizer, host of the popular Longhorn Podcast 4th and 5 to gain some insight into what people should expect when the two teams face off.

The Baltimore Wire: Will, Texas has been on a hot streak with recruiting under new coach Tom Herman with the 2018 class. Which 2017 recruits should we expect to see early action this season?

Baizer: Well, the JUCO kicker Joshua Rowland. Texas has had a lot of trouble with special teams, therefore, I think finally getting a guy that can hit a PAT, a 30-yard kick or hopefully, what we’ve heard, a forty kick, is really something Texas really, really, badly needs. It has cost them I think four or five games at least last year. He is actually ─ you know, you don’t usually think of the kicker but he is the most important guy Texas got last year, Josh Rowland. The other guy is Taquon Graham, a guy out of Temple High School. He came in at 260 pounds, 6-foot-4, and has really impressed the coaches. I think he’s now 280. He is a defensive end and has been a monster by all reports and has worked himself into the two-deep [roster]. He will be seeing playing time early.

The Baltimore Wire: How have you seen the culture change at Texas with Tom Herman from what it was with Charlie Strong?

Baizer: With each coach’s mentality and their personality, it can really change the program. Charlie Strong was a more reserved guy whereas Tom Herman is very much the opposite. Tom Herman has made the program very transparent and really brought in what he calls mental toughness and alignment. So everybody is on the same page. Charlie Strong, he really set up a good base and got rid of the entitlement in the program. He took those guys who were entitled or just bad news and pushed them out of the program in exchange for some guys who were willing to work for it. Unfortunately, Charlie Strong couldn’t finish off his job. You don’t get a second chance after losing to Kansas.

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Tom Herman took over and he’s really brought in, like I said, the alignment and mental toughness to the program. They have a thing that he brought over from Urban Meyer, called ‘Bloody Tuesday.’ Bloody Tuesday is basically an extremely physical practice every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Tom Herman got flak for doing this at Houston, but that team was tough as nails. This year they worked in 110 degree weather and did Bloody Tuesdays. Real game action should seem like a pillow fight.

So as you can tell there is a lot of excitement, a ton excitement. You’ve seen it on Twitter, if you follow Texas, anything Texas, you’ve seen it. He’s kind of brought Texas into another age. Charlie Strong and Mack Brown both were reluctant to use newer technologies. Charlie Strong took over and had Longhorn Network at his disposal and was like ‘I don’t have time, I have too much other stuff to do on my hands.’ Mack Brown, the same thing. Tom Herman really has been able to take Twitter, the Longhorn Network and everything and really put it to good use.

It’s all for recruiting, it really is. All that stuff for recruiting. Making the program seem fresh, new, fun, I mean, he’s taking guys on his camps he has them playing with water balloons, dodge ball and a dunk contest. You don’t see that when you go to other junior days or camps for the guys who are juniors in high school. Mostly it’s like okay we’re going to run a few routes. No, no, no, Tom Herman, we’re going to go into the DKR, the field and we’re going throw water balloons at each other.

The Baltimore Wire: In terms of the matchup with Maryland September 2, what kind of pace should people expect out the Texas on both sides of the ball?

Baizer: The thing that you should see about Texas is ─ well, we don’t really know. The pace should be a fast-paced offense. They’re probably not as fast as last year under the veer and shoot which is meant to put up 90 plays per game. Tom Herman with his power-spread should put up 70 plays. This is the Big XII we’re talking about, that’s pretty average.

I expect the defense to be flying. Defense by all accounts has been insanely good while the offense is taking a little bit more time to get going and get an understanding. Like I said, from all accounts, it seems like it’s going in the right direction. Tom Herman with this power spread offense, I have no doubt he can put it to good use because he has the talent at Texas. He has done it before. It’s not like Charlie Strong where he was coming in and had to restart from the ground up. Charlie Strong, as he said, baked Tom Herman a cake. Tom Herman just has to put the icing on it.

The Baltimore Wire: It looks like the battle for starting Quarterback at Texas is between Sophomore Shane Buechele and True Freshman Sam Ehlinger. Who do you think can get the job done for Texas and lead the team?

Baizer: Who I think? It doesn’t matter who I think. It’s who the coaches think can get the job done and they have so far believed in Shane Buechele because they’ve put a lot of emphasis on knowing what you’re doing in the playbook, on the white board, and on the field. Sam Ehlinger is a freshman. His head is still swimming. He’s doing better but Shane Buechele, he has got 12 games of experience and he did well in 12 games. Even hurt, Shane did well. He’s well on his way to breaking records at Texas with the likes of guys like Colt McCoy, Chris Sims and Vince Young. …He’s been very impressive so I think Shane Buechele right now is the guy who will be the starting quarterback.

This is not to say Sam is not good. In fact, he is pushing a lot harder for that starting job than anyone expected. But, man, Sam Ehlinger, all the Longhorn fans, all the coaches wish he could take a redshirt but there’s just absolutely no depth behind him. If he had a redshirt, I think he would be one of the best, I think, because man, he has got everything you want. He’s basically Tim Tebow with an arm.

[On if Ehlinger would come in midseason if Buechele is not playing well] “That’s a good question. I think they would probably go to Ehlinger because they kind of go for a hot hand in this position. There’s no way they’re saving Sam Ehlinger’s redshirt and if they think they can get him more experience then why not start early.

The Baltimore Wire: Which players do you think can or will stand out against Maryland next Saturday?

Baizer: I think people sleep on Collin Johnson. Collin Johnson might be one of the best wide receivers in the nation. At six-foot-six, he runs a 4.5-4.6 forty, has great hands and incredible body control. I think he ─ among the tremendous depth that Texas has in the wide receiver room – will stand out. He’s the guy who Shane Buechele goes to in the red zone, whenever they’re in the red zone. That’s the guy who’s going to be getting all the touchdowns.

On the defensive side, Poona Ford. Man, Poona Ford. He’s actually smaller than you want your nose guard to be, but he’s got fire in his belly. He has never been satisfied. …I believe he’s a guy who will be the team captain of the defense and really be the guy who is knocking head and getting to the quarterback.

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The Baltimore Wire would like to thank Will for his time and wish him and the Texas Longhorns good luck during the season.