Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns outmatched by Texas football in season opener
AUSTIN, Texas – Running back Bijan Robinson, quarterback Hudson Card and receiver Jordan Whittington had their way for No. 19 Texas over outmatched UL in a 38-18 win Saturday at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
The No. 23 Ragin' Cajuns (0-1) trailed their season opener 14-6 at halftime but were worn down in the second half during coach Steve Sarkisian debut with the Longhorns.
Robinson rushed 20 times for 103 yards and one touchdown, and had another TD receiving. Card was 14-of-21 for 224 yards and two TDs, and Whittington had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
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Robinson helped give Texas a 21-6 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. UL responded with a 21-yard Chris Smith TD run, but Texas took control after the Cajuns missed the PAT to leave it 21-12.
The Longhorns went up 28-12 after a 5-yard scoring run by Card before the third quarter was done, and added a 14-yard Whittington TD reception on a throw by backup quarterback Casey Thompson early in the fourth that was answered by a Levi Lewis touchdown throw to Kyren Lacy.
UL took an early 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Texan Kenneth Almendares after penalties negated would-be Texas punt return for a touchdown.
But Texas responded with an 18-yard touchdown throw from Card to Robinson, and the Longhorns made it 14-3 after a 6-yard TD pass from Card to tight end Cade Brewer with two minutes left in the half. Almendares hit a 48-yard FG as time expired before the break.
UL defensive issues
The UL defense had issues picking up the running back coming out of the backfield on pass routes, and it cost the Cajuns.
Robinson was wide open on his first-quarter touchdown catch as it appeared two Cajuns might have covered the same tight end, and he had a 28-yard grab as Card threaded a throw into space over the middle later in the quarter. He finished with four catches.
Whittington also was able to exploit UL over the middle, something UL must fix before opens Sun Belt Conference play with a Sept. 25 visit to Georgia Southern..
Freshman running back
Smith is the new No. 1, but freshman running back Montrell Johnson Jr. made his presence known early on.
Johnson reeled off a 10-yard run on his first carry. The De La Salle product from New Orleans also had a nifty backfield block on a first-quarter drive, buying Lewis enough time to complete a pass to Jacob Bernard.
Lewis wasn't sharp
Lewis finished 28-of-40 for 282 yards with no interceptions.
The third-year starter didn't look his sharpest, but he also seemed to not get much help from his receivers. From better route running to finding more creative ways to get open, UL has plenty to work on in the pass game before facing Nicholls next Saturday.
Ferrod Gardner leaves with injury
Ferrod Gardner, UL’s starting Will inside linebacker, walked off the field gingerly and with assistance after going down with an injury late in the first half. It appeared Gardner was having his right foot/lower right leg looked at.
He was replaced by Acadiana High product Jourdan Quibodeaux, an experienced and more than capable backup. Gardner was taken to the locker room on a cart. At halftime the Cajuns were calling him questionable to return, but he did not.