When Texas meets USC, throw out the record book. Literally. The Trojans sure have.
In this week’s press notes, USC claims its all-time record against UT is 5-0. Something seems amiss. The Trojans at least noted, “not including one loss vacated due to NCAA penalty.”
Meanwhile, Texas’ press notes were diplomatic. The UT sports information office wrote that Saturday’s game at Royal-Memorial Stadium is the seventh all-time meeting and that USC holds a 5-1 series record.
“Perhaps the biggest matchup between the two schools came in the 2006 Rose Bowl,” UT’s press office said, “when the Longhorns defeated No. 1 USC, 41-38, to win the 2005 BCS National Championship.”
To USC’s credit, the school does offer a full explanation about its NCAA penalties. Reggie Bush lateraled it to page 3.
“So, yes, USC lost the game,” the notes state, “but it can’t list it that way in its records, per the NCAA.”
Speaking of games and players USC would like to forget, it was announced Monday that Vince Young was named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame class of 2018.
Texas coach Tom Herman would love to vacate some losses, too. Two against Maryland and a double-overtime heartbreaker in the Coliseum for starters. The Longhorns (1-1) finally get their chance to get even with the 22nd-ranked Trojans this weekend on the back end of a home-and-home contract.
“You’re going to see a team hopefully that’s continually improving, a team that’s excited to play USC at home,” Herman said Monday. “You’re going to see a team that hopefully is, like I said, improving on the things that we need to improve on all three sides of the football.”
Herman stressed his team needs to show constant improvement. “And you’re going to see a team that’s excited and having fun,” he said.
Herman began his press conference with news that’s no fun at all.
Running back Keaontay Ingram is doubtful for this week’s matchup with a knee injury. Tests showed there was no ligament damage, so trainers are calling it a strained medial collateral ligament. “A pretty good bone bruise,” Herman said. But Ingram should be fine for the Big 12 opener against TCU on Sept. 22.
Cornerback Kris Boyd woke up with neck pain on Sunday but should be cleared. Fellow corner Davante Davis should return this week, too. Center Zach Shackelford will miss the game, Herman said, and is likely out for several weeks. That means guard Elijah Rodriguez will continue to play center, Derek Kerstetter will play right guard and Samuel Cosmi will go at right tackle.
“There’s some different creatures that USC is going to be throwing at him,” Herman said of Cosmi, a redshirt freshman, “but I think we all feel comfortable that you can win with him.”
Last season, Herman was the one breaking in a new quarterback in then-freshman Sam Ehlinger. This time around, USC coach Clay Helton is working with freshman JT Daniels, the second Trojan ever to graduate a full year early from high school.
Daniels, the Gatorade national player of the year, had three turnovers in last Saturday’s 17-3 loss to Stanford. It’s a far cry from Sam Darnold, who threw for 7,229 career yards and 57 touchdowns. The 21-year-old Darnold was expected to be starting quarterback for the New York Jets on Monday night.
Ehlinger is now 3-5 as a starter with the Longhorns. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 237 yards and threw two touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Tulsa.
In the season-opening loss against Maryland, he stayed in the pocket and didn’t run as much as he normally does. Against the Golden Hurricane, he had 12 carries for 51 yards and ran one touchdown in from 1 yard out.
Ehlinger also went 7 for 7 on a 13-play drive that helped the Horns take a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. His only serious miscue was a fumble in the third quarter. On the surface, one turnover against Tulsa isn’t a big deal. But Ehlinger has now committed three turnovers in two games.
Ehlinger threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns last season against USC. He also fumbled on the goal line in double overtime as USC escaped with a 27-24 win.
“He handled the tempo well, he handled the uniqueness of Tulsa’s defense well,” Herman said. “We have seen him play well as a true freshman against USC, so I’m excited for him to continue growing and this weekend being one of the steps in his growth process, certainly.”
During a rather dull day inside Bellmont Hall, Herman was asked about the perception among some fans that he’s arrogant.
“I love our fans,” Herman responded. “The expectations that are put on us from the outside are never going to meet or exceed the expectations that we put on ourselves. And so yeah, I love our fans, absolutely love them and I hope they continue to stay as passionate about Texas football as they have been.”
Fans will come early, be loud and stay late on Saturday against USC. The school announced that country group Reckless Kelly will be the pre-game concert performers at Longhorn City Limits.
Of course, it’s easy to get jacked up this week. It’s USC, a perennial power. As Herman said, “I think you tell them watch the video. I mean, this is a very, very talented, talented USC team.”
Maybe it’ll get recorded in the history books, too. Or not.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.