Revisiting our four pregame questions Wednesday that were facing the Longhorns:
Here’s how they played out:
1. Who’s Texas’ quarterback heading into the offseason?
The freshman shined, taking over for a banged-up Shane Buechele by taking all the snaps in the second half. Ehlinger, whose late-game mistakes cost Texas wins against USC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech this season, was clutch Wednesday night, directing two clock-eating drives in the fourth quarter and laying down a big lead block on Armanti Foreman’s touchdown run. But this offseason will be an interesting one on the quarterback front; Buechele started the bowl game well and will be in his third season, Ehlinger certainly produced a lot of positive plays — and his share of negative ones, too — in his first season, and 4-star recruits Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson will enroll early and be in the mix.
2. Are there more questions or answers on the offensive line?
But that’s simple reality, not a statement on the reconfigured line’s performance against Missouri. The Tigers had only two sacks and Daniel Young was sprung for a handful of nice gains. Elijah Rodriguez, who was expected to start at right tackle but ended up missing 12 games after getting hurt in August, returned and manned Connor Williams’ left tackle spot. But Texas started nine different line combinations this season and how guys like Zach Shackelford, Derek Kerstetter, Denzel Okafor and Rodriguez continue to develop will be one of the keys to 2018. How will Texas replace its NFL-bound left tackle? Is Patrick Vahe the guy to anchor the group? Where is Kerstetter’s best spot? Will the Longhorns develop depth up front? Questions, questions.
3. Which senior shined in his final game?
With twin brother D’Onta watching, the senior wide receiver made two big plays: An 18-yard touchdown run off the left side that put the game away and a 16-yard screen pass gain on third-and-15 as the Longhorns tried to milk the clock midway through the fourth quarter. He caught every one of his four targets.
4. Did Tom Herman’s first season end on a high note?
A 7-6 record gives Texas its first winning season since Mack Brown’s second-to-last season, when the Longhorns went 8-5 in 2013. That’s important for perception — to the country, to the fan base, to the media, to recruits, and to the locker room. Texas signed 19 players in the early signing period last week and its 2018 recruiting class is ranked third in the country heading into the second signing day in February. Several of those signees will enroll early and take part in spring football. Texas won its first bowl game since 2012, beat an SEC school, is working on a top signing class and came close to knocking off USC, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
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