When it comes to quarterback Sam Ehlinger, there is only some much coach Tom Herman can do to bridle emotions on game day.
That’s especially true in a primetime matchup with Southern Cal in Austin on Saturday night.
“I think you always have to tame a guy like Sam a little bit,” Herman said Monday. “He gets pretty lathered up on game days and so again that’s a good thing. But using previous mistakes as motivation, I don’t see that in him, I think he wants to beat USC to beat USC. He doesn’t want to beat them to exact any kind of revenge or a tone for any kind of since or anything like that, I think he wants to beat them just because he wants to go 1-0 this week.”
Ehlinger had the ball stripped as he attempted to reach the endzone in double overtime in 2017 at USC.
Ehlinger was a freshman playing in a marquee matchup, and redemption is a natural goal.
But much has changed on the other side — including the Trojans’ quarterback. Last year’s starter, Sam Darnold, was drafted third overall and starts his first NFL game Monday for the New York Jets.
Freshman JT Daniels tops the Trojans’ depth chart and comes to Austin after a loss to Stanford last week. He was dinged up with what coach Clay Helton termed a hand bruise. Texas is preparing for Daniels to start.
“This is a very, very talented, talented USC team,” Herman said. “They have got a young quarterback that, he can really, really throw the football and they did lose the Top-5 pick in Sam Darnold and a really, really talented running back. But it’s USC, they’re going to reload and they have got talent all over the field, they have got a ton of speed on defense.”
Herman said one immediate upgrade will be vital for the Texas defense.
“We got to get more pressure on the quarterback. And we have had a lot of discussion of that over the last 48 hours or 36 hours … our four-man pass rush has to be better, we got to improve. We have also got to contain the quarterback better,” Herman said. “We gave up some big plays, some big third- and fourth-down conversions on quarterback scrambles too. … When you’re as young as we are in the secondary too of the easiest way to pressure a quarterback is to blitz, but you’re also leaving a young secondary maybe susceptible to some big plays there. So it’s a balancing act.”
–Field Level Media