Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) passes the ball against UTEP in Austin on Sept. 12, 2020. Texas and Oklahoma, the two favorites in the Big 12, each opened the season with wins. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas’ notable number: Sam Ehlinger’s shot at Colt McCoy’s records — and the number 4

Posted September 25th, 2020

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Each week this fall, we’re looking at a specific number that’s tied to Texas football.

This week’s notable number is 4 — the jersey number assigned to receiver Jordan Whittington and defensive back Xavion Alford. Walk-on receiver Kai Money had four receptions in UT’s season-opening rout of UTEP. And since the Doak Walker Award was first handed out in 1990, the four trophies won by Texas running backs trail only Wisconsin’s five .

Four also accounts for the amount of significant second-place showings for Sam Ehlinger on UT’s all-time lists.

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Even though he has much of his senior year ahead of him, Ehlinger ranks second among Texas quarterbacks in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts. Ahead of him in each of those categories? Colt McCoy, who started 53 games between the 2006 and 2009 seasons.

To be clear, a lot will have to go right in order for Ehlinger to overtake McCoy during this shortened season. It isn’t impossible in some cases, though. Based on three different scenarios, we did the math on what Ehlinger needs to average to pass McCoy.

  • Scenario A: Ehlinger and Texas play 10 more games (nine regular-season and one bowl game).
  • Scenario B: Ehlinger and Texas play 11 more games (nine regular-season, the Big 12 title game and a bowl game).
  • Scenario C: Ehlinger and Texas play 12 more games (nine regular-season, the Big 12 title game and two CFP games).
Former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has his jersey retired ahead of a game against Baylor at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Oct. 30, 2010. McCoy still owns most of the Longhorns’ significant passing records. (Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Career passing yards

McCoy threw for 13,253 career yards. Ehlinger is 3,957 yards behind him, at 9,296 yards. He’s coming off a career-high 426-yard performance against UTEP. He has surpassed 300 yards in 10 of his 37 career games.

  • A: Ehlinger needs to average 395.8 yards per game.
  • B: Ehlinger needs to average 359.8 yards.
  • C: Ehlinger needs to average 329.8 yards.

Career touchdown passes

Ehlinger has thrown 73 touchdowns in his career. That easily bests the third-place total in the record books, Major Applewhite’s 60. Still, Ehlinger has a ways to go to catch McCoy. During his time at Texas, McCoy tossed 112 touchdowns.

  • A: Ehlinger needs to average 4.0 touchdown passes per game.
  • B: Ehlinger needs to average 3.6 touchdowns.
  • C: Ehlinger needs to average 3.3 touchdowns.

Career attempts

Thus far, Ehlinger has attempted 1,187 passes. That’s 458 fewer throws than McCoy. It might not be realistic to expect him to catch McCoy in this category. On only eight occasions has he attempted 40 passes. His career-high total of 50 attempts was established as a freshman.

  • A: Ehlinger needs to average 45.9 attempts per game.
  • B: Ehlinger needs to average 41.7 attempts.
  • C: Ehlinger needs to average 38.3 attempts.

Career completions

Don’t bet on Ehlinger for this record. McCoy completed 1,157 passes and Ehlinger has 754. That 403-completion gap may not seem like a huge number, but the math tells a different story. Over the past four seasons, only five quarterbacks — Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, Gardner Minshew and Luke Falk, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Cal’s Davis Webb — have averaged 30 completions over a season that included at least 10 appearances. Ehlinger has three 30-completion games in his career.

  • A: Ehlinger needs to average 40.4 completions per game.
  • B: Ehlinger needs to average 36.7 completions.
  • C: Ehlinger needs to average 33.7 completions.

In addition to being neighbors in the UT record books, Ehlinger and McCoy share a personal tie. An Austin native, Ehlinger participated in McCoy’s youth football camp. Ehlinger told reporters this week that he has also formed a relationship with McCoy, now with the New York Giants.

Ehlinger called McCoy an “incredible mentor.” The two met for dinner and throwing sessions during this past offseason.

“He’s always made himself available to me, whether that be football stuff or off-the-field stuff,” Ehlinger said. “Obviously there’s not many people who are better to lean on and ask advice because he’s an incredible football player as well as a great man, family man.”

Ehlinger continued: “It’s been an absolute blessing to have him in my life and know I can lean on him with whatever question that may be. Anything that I’m going through, he’s been in the exact spot and he’s handled it extremely well. Whatever I can get from him, I try to get from him.”

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