Heck of a football game and a heck of a win for Tom Herman and his Longhorns tonight in Austin. Texas is 2-0 in conference and is riding a nice confidence streak as it heads into its rivalry game against Oklahoma in Dallas. Here are some of my thoughts from tonight’s big win over the Wildcats.
Sam Ehlinger is the man at quarterback
This debate is officially settled. 486 total yards of offense from the true freshman against a defense that is usually tough year in and out. He did it with his arm and he did it with his wheels, and he did time after time. Ehlinger played as well as he could have played aside from the early interception and I barely even remember it because of how many positive plays he made throughout the game. This is Sam’s team now and Texas has a damn good one under center.
The offensive line kept Ehlinger clean
While Ehlinger’s wheels bailed his line out on some plays, this group played a pretty well considering they are down several starters. That includes starting two underclassmen at tackle and a center who has never taken starter snaps in his entire college career. Ehlinger had a good pocket to work with most of the night and most importantly, he was never sacked. Anytime your big boys turn in a clean sheet like that they deserve some love, and considering I played offensive line in college, they are dang sure getting some love from me tonight. Well done, fellas.
Have yourself a night, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps
Remember how good Hemphill-Mapps looked early on and then did a disappearing act for a bit? Well, he was back on the scene tonight and took it to the Kansas State defense to the tune of 121 yards on 12 catches. He gets open, he’s a reliable pass catcher, he’s elusive and gets you yards after the catch. He needs to be a staple in the game plan going forward.
Toneil Carter still needs more touches
It seemed like Carter was going to be involved early and often tonight and he looked good early on. After that, he disappeared for awhile and was only on the field here and there. He ended the night with only 6 carries for 32 yards. I said before that Ehlinger shouldn’t be the primary ball carrier considering how thin the quarterback position is. We’ve seen Carter in flashes and need to see him more going forward to limit the wear and tear on QB1.
Field goals are going to be an adventure all year long
Texas fans are going to be holding their breath every time Josh Rowland lines up for a field goal this year. While we know he doesn’t have a huge leg, if he is going to start spraying kicks left and right that are within his range, then it’s going to make for some interesting in game decisions. He missed a chip shot that should have tied it (and could have cost Texas the game) and also missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation. He could improve as the season progresses, but the confidence level for trotting him out there can’t be very high right now.
The most important part about tonight is that Texas found a way to win instead of finding a way to lose. That in itself is a big step forward for this team as it heads into a the Red River Shootout next weekend in Dallas. I feel like the defense took a bit a of a step back tonight overall, but they stepped up and made some plays at some big moments late in the ball game, including DeShon Elliott’s fifth interception of the season. That guy just seems to find the football.
Next week should be fun. Oklahoma is coming off an embarrassing lose against Iowa State at home, and Texas is coming off its best win of the year against Kansas State. The eyes of Texas will be upon the Cotton Bowl.