Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff


Bohls: To play or redshirt? Texas’ Tom Herman juggles decisions on his backup quarterbacks

Posted September 17th, 2018

Story highlights
  • Tom Herman could have played Shane Buechele in mop time against USC but might have been smart with the possibility of playing him four games later in the year and still redshirting him.
  • Freshman Cameron Rising currently ranks No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart while Casey Thompson runs the scout team.
  • Herman said he has no doubts about Buechele's readiness to play at any time in relief of Sam Ehlinger.

From all reports, Robert Downey Jr. remains a bit lukewarm about reprising his role of Tony Stark in the Iron Man movie series after three editions so far.

So in the event he declines, Sam Ehlinger’s ready and able to step in for “Iron Man 4.”

After all, out of 131 offensive snaps through three games, the Texas quarterback has been on the field for all 131. And that’s a recipe for … for disaster? A recipe for reps? A recipe for a food truck on Bevo Boulevard? All of the above?


Given his physical style of football and penchant for contact, is it smart not to give any backups some playing time? In light of the new redshirt rule that allows a player to get in up to four games in a season without costing him a year of eligibility, would it be wise to put in one of the two promising freshmen to get accomplished passer Cameron Rising or freakishly athletic Casey Thompson some valuable experience?

Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck talks with quarterbacks Shane Buechele (7) and Sam Ehlinger (11) during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Or should Tom Herman have inserted junior Shane Buechele against Southern Cal to knock off any rust since he hasn’t played since the bowl game last December? I might have stuck in Buechele in the fourth quarter so he’s not coming in cold, say, in the first half of the TCU or Oklahoma game if Ehlinger goes out, but there are also good reasons why he shouldn’t have.

Herman has been straightforward and has no worries about Buechele’s readiness, even without a snap.

“Shane is awesome,” Herman said. “That guy will be ready. There is no doubt in my mind. He will not be rusty. He’s bouncing around, coaching the heck out of Sam on the sideline, talking to coach (Tim) Beck and myself on the head set during the series on what he saw. So he is fully engaged and the opportunity to get him in when you’re running the clock out, I don’t think that’s (necessary).”

The fourth quarter of a rout “probably wasn’t the ideal time” to insert Buechele. Ehlinger did throw four passes in the final period so Buechele could have gotten some meaningful work rather than just handing off the ball.

But maybe Herman could play Buechele in four more important games this season and still redshirt him and save two years of eligibility for him either at Texas or another school if he graduates next May and transfers. In a perfect scenario, that’s how this could unfold with the two rookies splitting up reps behind Ehlinger because “you’re not going to waste a game or two (for Buechele),” and in fairness there’s been precious little mop-up duty for anyone.

Herman said both freshmen are on the travel squad. Rising ranks third on the depth chart and Thompson runs the scout team. Maybe Herman will play each of them four games and redshirt them both. Maybe do the same with Buechele.

“I think they’re going to be ready,” Herman said of them. “There is no doubt in my mind that anybody that watches those guys go about their business day in and day out and sees how talented they are, that nobody would be surprised if those guys were the starting quarterback at Texas at some point.”