With game one officially in the books for Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns, the team focus turns to preparation for LSU. While season openers reveal very little about what a team will look like mid-season, they typically manifest “nuggets” that show coaches and fans where player strengths lie. Last night’s performance under the lights at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was no exception, with veterans and newcomers making their presence known. With a 45-14 drumming of Louisiana Tech, I have five game balls I’d like to hand out to five players that had noteworthy performances.
WR Brennan Eagles – Much of the anticipation for the first game of the season at the wide receiver position involved the return of speedster senior John Burt. Burt started at flanker, but it was Eagles that stole the show, catching two touchdown passes for 28 and 25 yards respectively. What’s more impressive is Eagles had elbow surgery just two weeks ago.
Tom Herman praised the sophomore for his development and selfless attitude on the field.
“I swear he’s made the most strides. I think it’s just the speed of the game and the knowledge of his assignment. I mean, this is a 228, 230-pound young man that can run 21 miles an hour and he’s 6’3″.”
QB Sam Ehlinger – The offensive game plan for Ehlinger was to throw the ball first and run second. This played out against the Bulldogs with Ehlinger passing for 276 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 34 yards on the ground. Louisiana Tech brought the blitz most of the night, but the maturity from the junior quarterback continues to show in the form of read-runs and throwaways. Sam wasn’t spectacular against the Bulldogs but he was efficient and did enough to prove he deserves to be in the Heisman conversation.
Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz had this to say about Ehlinger’s performance against the Bulldogs.
“I think he’s the difference in their team. I think he’s a Top-10 quarterback. I think he definitely is a Top-10 quarterback. I was really impressed with the way that he ran the system that they asked him to run tonight.”
WR Devin Duvernay – The first drive of the football game featured a heavy dose of Devin Duvernay, and the senior continued to impress throughout the night. Duvernay’s 36-yard kick return to open the game was the longest of his career. He capped the opening Texas drive with a 4-yard touchdown reception from Sam Ehlinger. Duvernay finished the night with nine receptions for 55 yards. Herman and the offensive staff will utilize him as a weapon in the slot all season long, as teams continue to stack the box.
LB Joseph Ossai – Ossai was recruited by the Longhorns and a myriad of other top programs to wreak havoc on offenses. The sophomore Linebacker showed what he is capable of in Saturday’s win, finishing with 5 solo tackles and one tackle for loss. He also notched his first career interception and forced a fumble. Additionally, he had an 82-yard interception for a touchdown which was negated by a roughing the passer penalty on safety Brandon Jones. Ossai is coming into his own and will pay dividends for Todd Orlando as the season progresses.
DB Chris Brown – Chris Brown started in place of Caden Sterns, and dished out an impressive performance in just his third start for the Longhorns. The junior recorded 5 solo tackles, including one for a loss. Brown’s most notable play came in the 3rd quarter when Louisiana Tech faced a 4th & 1 at the Texas 26-yard line. Brown hit and wrapped up Tech fullback Bobby Holly at the line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover on downs. The defensive back position could be a work in progress for Texas, and Chris Brown showed how he could help speed things along.
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