Texas coach Tom Herman said Thursday that quarterback Shane Buechele will start against Baylor. Trying to determine who the Longhorns will use as a backup is far more problematic.
Freshman Sam Ehlinger was still going through concussion protocol and has not practiced this week. The Longhorns have receiver Jerrod Heard as a potential candidate, something Herman once dubbed the “nuclear option.”
“(Buechele’s) going to start. Le’s not be silly here,” Herman said after practice. “The issue is going to be if he breaks a shoelace or sprains his ankle, who can we jog in the game? Is Sam cleared to go jog into the game and do that or is it going to have to be Jerrod?”
Buechele bounced back from a shoulder injury suffered against Maryland in the season opener. He suffered an ankle injury against Iowa State in the Big 12 opener on Sept. 28. Ehlinger has started the last three weeks but taken massive hits in back-to-back games.
Asked about Buechele’s mobility, Herman said, “Good enough. He was never going to run away from anybody.
“I think he can move around enough to not be a sitting duck, certainly,” the coach added. “But we’re not going to ask him to run the football. I don’t think that’s prudent when we have one trained quarterback to go into the game with.”
Herman has praised Buechele’s ability to handle the pressure surrounding the quarterback rotation. “He’s excited,” Herman said. “The kid just wants to win. He wants to do his part to help his team win.”
Also on Thursday, Herman said versatile lineman Terrell Cuney will start at center for the injured Zach Shackelford (concussion protocol). Jake McMillon, who is recovering from a hand injury, is expected to be back at right guard. Receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (knee) has also been cleared and should play against the winless Bears (0-7, 0-4 Big 12).
Herman did joke that UT fans shouldn’t expect any shadow boxing this time around. DeShon Elliott became an internet sensation in 2015 during a tense moment between the Longhorns and Bears. TV cameras caught Elliott removing his helmet and pretending to box Baylor.
“He won’t be doing that,” Herman said with a stern look but a smile. “Nobody on our team will be doing that. It’s a long walk from Waco to Austin.”
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