Crank up the hype machine for this week’s mega-matchup between Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Texas’ Sam … wait! What?
Hold up just a moment.
Texas coach Tom Herman isn’t ready to name his starting quarterback against the 12th-ranked Sooners (4-1, 1-1 Big 12). Instead of announcing Sam Ehlinger was the starter on Monday, the Longhorns engaged in some Kabuki theater, listing Shane Buechele “or” Ehlinger on the team’s depth chart.
“Funny, I knew I was going to get asked that question,” Herman said during his weekly press conference. “I don’t think we’re ready to make that decision until we see how healthy Shane is.”
Buechele was limited in practice last week due to the ankle injury suffered against Iowa State. He dressed for Saturday’s game against Kansas State and could have played if needed. Ehlinger became just the third quarterback in school history to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 more in the Longhorns’ 40-34 double-overtime win.
— K-Wash (@KevWash630) October 9, 2017
Ehlinger is now 2-1 as UT’s starter as the Longhorns (3-2, 2-0) sit atop the Big 12 standings along with TCU.
So after watching the game and then watching the film on Sunday, Herman still doesn’t feel comfortable addressing reporters and saying that Ehlinger is the starter?
“No,” Herman said.
Was there something Ehlinger didn’t do?
“Sam made a lot of mistakes,” Herman said. “There’s no doubt he also played really well, tough and physical. But I don’t know what good it does me to tell (OU defensive coordinator) Mike Stoops and (head coach) Lincoln Riley what I feel about my quarterback situation.”
Up in Norman, Okla., Mayfield isn’t buying the ruse. The Sooners are likely to be far more worried about Ehlinger’s running ability than Buechele’s.
Asked what he knew of Ehlinger, Mayfield said, “He went to Westlake and he’s never beaten Lake Travis.”
Factually, that’s spot on. Mayfield’s Cavaliers currently have a 10-game winning streak over Ehlinger’s Chaparrals, a run that includes nine regular-season wins and one playoff victory.
Ehlinger is already acting the part of Texas’ starter. He brought boxes of doughnuts into the football building for his offensive lineman, according to a Twitter posting from a UT staff member. Ehlinger posed for a photo with guard Jake McMillon.
Dissection of everything, including the starting quarterback, is fair game when it comes to Texas-OU. After all, this is a rivalry defined by close plays, intense moments and hatred on both sides of the Red River. It’s game where the Cotton Bowl is always half empty at the final gun. The winners stay to cheer; the losers hit the Midway or the parking lot.
Herman was a Texas graduate assistant in 1999 and 2000 under then-UT coach Mack Brown. The Longhorns were 38-28 winners in ’99. The Sooners won 63-14 the following year, a score that Herman said, “It’s been embedded into my brain.”
All manner of personnel decisions were up for discussion on Monday.
The Longhorns have developed a curious habit of rotating running backs. Toniel Carter did get more playing time against Kansas State, as Herman promised. Carter would have one good run, then come off the field. Kyle Porter would play several snaps, then give way to Chris Warren III.
Carter had six carries for 32 yards. Warren (14 yards) and Porter (13 yards) both had seven carries each.
No single back got extended time on any one drive. Warren was front and center when it counted, though. The 250-pounder, with some help from his friends, scored from 2 yards out in double-overtime for the victory.
“One, nobody has separated themselves, so the only way to find out is to let the guys play,” Herman said. Some running backs do certain things better than others. In Herman’s world, pass protection is just as important as running with a low pad level.
Herman also said the coaches are “pulling our hair out” trying to find some carries for freshman Daniel Young.
“The biggest thing is that nobody’s just taken it and ran with it, no pun intended,” Herman said. “You’re going to continue to see that until somebody grabs a hold of it and goes.”
Herman also doted on the strength of the receiving corps. That became an issue over the weekend when Armanti Foreman’s father went off on social media. Armanti did not play on offense against K-State, and Derrick Foreman was critical of Herman on a Facebook post.
Herman said five receivers played at “a championship level” against the Wildcats. “You gotta practice better and play better than Jerrod (Heard) and Reggie (Hemphill-Mapps). Just like anywhere,” Herman said.
Otherwise, Monday’s press conference was a rather mundane event — other than it’s Texas-OU week. Just to be sure, KEYE-TV anchor Bob Ballou asked if there had been any quarterback updates “in the last 15 minutes?”
Herman busted out laughing and said, “No update.”
Interpret that however you wish.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post Will Sam Ehlinger start? If Tom Herman isn’t saying, it must be Texas-OU week appeared first on Hook ‘Em.
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