What a difference a year makes, at least when it comes to Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and his experience level in big games and his knowledge of the Longhorns’ offense.
Ehlinger made his college debut as a true freshman last season when the Longhorns lost to Southern California 27-24 in double overtime.
There has been plenty of water under the bridge since then, and more than a fair share of ups and downs for both Ehlinger and the Longhorns, but the Texas signal-caller is ready to show how he has improved when the two teams battle on Saturday night in Austin.
Ehlinger’s job in the Texas system is to look deep first, and last year his first instinct was to pull the ball down and run if that first option was not available. Now, he’s patient enough to move through his progressions and get the ball to his checkdowns. When he’s throwing the ball at accurately as he’s been, everybody feels good about things.
“It was one of his best overall all-around operations playing the position,” Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck said of Ehlinger’s performance against Tulsa last week. “When Sam plays within the confines like he did, plays within himself, he can be very effective.
Ehlinger is quick to credit the Texas offensive line, the Longhorns’ running game and his talented stable of receivers for his improvement.
“It’s really easy to play quarterback when your offensive line is giving you time as well as pushing dudes around in the run game,” Ehlinger said. “That was a huge step for me, and it made me feel comfortable back in the pocket.
“There are some things available in the checkdowns instead of forcing it, so that’s when we are just taking the easy ones, and that helped as well. Overall, our offense is moving in the right direction.”
–Steve Habel (@SteveHabel), Field Level Media