Following a 29-24 loss to Oklahoma, let’s take a took a look at how the Texas offense performed:
The stat line does not fully reflect the type of day Sam Ehlinger had. Despite poor offensive line play and zero running game (outside of himself), the true freshman still had the Longhorns in position to win a big game. Ehlinger finished the day 19 of 39 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown. He also added 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. He has basically become the running game for Texas and he has embraced the role. If there was any doubt about whether Ehlinger would be the starter going forward, it was erased on Saturday.
It was a far from perfect performance by #11, though. He still needs to improve his touch on the deep ball and his overall accuracy. Even his long completion to Devin Duvernay could have been a touchdown with slightly better ball placement. Ehlinger already has an excellent feel for the pocket, but there are still times where he will leave the pocket when the offensive line is actually holding up, and it benefits rushers.
Texas has basically hitched their entire offensive identity to Ehlinger, and while he still has a lot to improve on, he is showing the heart and swagger a Longhorn quarterback hasn’t possessed in quite some time. There are a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball, but quarterback is not one of them.
Kyle Porter, Chris Warren and Toneil Carter combined for 14 carries for 17 yards. They simply had no room to run and were not able to create anything, with Porter owning the longest carry of the day for 5 yards. The running game has disappeared in every game other than against San Jose State, and there is no reason to believe that it will be different the second half the season. I am giving the running backs an incomplete in the the run game because it is unfair to try to give a grade with how poorly the offensive line played and how early Texas abandoned the use of running backs in the run game.
Luckily, Texas was able to find ample success using the running backs in the passing game out of the backfield. Kyle Porter was used in the screen game twice and totaled 31 yards receiving, including a 16 yard touchdown. Chris Warren gathered in 4 catches for 56 yards, and showed excellent hands and balance out of the backfield. It is encouraging to see an emphasis being placed on including the running backs in the passing game because Texas has 3 backs who are more than capable as receivers. Toneil Carter did not record a reception, which is surprising because he is widely considered to be the most electric of the 3. Overall, the running backs did a good job of what they were asked to do, which was help help out the offensive line in pass protection and contribute in the passing game.
Run grade: Incomplete
Grade for everything else: B
Wide Receiver/Tight End
It was another good game from a receiving unit that is getting big plays from a variety of players. Top receiver Collin Johnson was held in check, catching 2 passes for 26 yards, and that was maybe the biggest disappointment of the game besides the offensive line. Reggie Hemphill Mapps had another great game, hauling in 4 passes for 42 yards, including several impressive catches in the second half. Fellow slot receiver Lil’ Jordan Humphrey lead the team in receiving with 4 catches for 56 yards. Devin Duvernay got his second reception of the season on a huge 42 yard pass.
Texas was able to get by with a quiet game from Collin Johnson because of the play making abilities of Humphrey and Hemphill-Mapps. The shiftiness and physicality of Humphrey made him a huge matchup problem, and Hemphill Mapps benefited greatly from the use of the short and intermediate passing game. Overall, the receivers had another good day and it seems that Ehlinger is beginning to build a good rapport with his favorite targets.
Cade Brewer has taken over as the primary tight end and played very well in his first Red River Showdown. Brewer had 2 catches for 27 yards and showed good run after the catch ability. With Texas continuing to use a lot of 10 personnel groupings, Brewer saw time flexed out as a wideout. Kendall Moore saw some snaps, but has been regulated to strictly blocking duties and struggled with that.
It’s hard to sugarcoat what happened to the offensive line on Saturday. Obo Okoronkwo lived in the Texas backfield the entire game and could not be stopped by any lineman. Denzel Okafor and Derek Kerstetter both struggled with a lot of outside pressure the Sooners were bringing. Terrell Cuney was not as effective at guard as he was at Center, and Patrick Vahe again struggled when he was asked to pass block as many times as he was. Zach Shackelford finally fixed some of the snap issues he was having, but otherwise struggled similarly to his 4 fellow lineman.
Oklahoma routinely got to Sam Ehlinger with 3 and 4 man rushes. Texas could not run the ball at all, with the only success coming off scrambles from Sam Ehlinger and quarterback keepers where Ehlinger used nothing but pure grit to pick up yardage. In pass protection, the coaches had to often ask a running back to stay in to block so Ehlinger would have longer than 1 second to throw the ball. In a game like this, it is known that winning the trenches most likely means winning the game, and the offensive line failed badly at giving Texas any type of advantage up front.
Run Block Grade: F
Pass Block Grade: F