September 17, 2017
In a game that lived up to its billing, Texas came up just short of an upset of No. 4 USC on Saturday.
Tom Herman dropped to 6-1 all-time against ranked opponents as the Longhorns fell, 27-24, in Los Angeles. While there were mistakes, there were numerous positives for Texas to take back to Austin. Here are 10 stats to take away from Saturday’s contest.
(Photo: Harry How, Getty)
3: The biggest loss on Saturday for Texas might have been left tackle Connor Williams, who went down with a knee injury early in the second quarter. Texas now has three offensive lineman on the shelf, including Williams, Patrick Hudson (torn ACL), who is out for the season and Elijah Rodriguez (ankle). Offensive line depth was already concern for Texas, but if Williams, who will undergo more evaluation when he gets back to Austin, is out for an extended period of times, things get worse for the Longhorns as conference play looms.
4: How does Texas follow up Chris Warren III’s 166-yard performance against San Jose State? By giving him just four carries, which he took for a total of 15 yards. After the game Herman said Warren suffered an eye laceration, but didn’t say if that’s what caused the limited carries. In all, the Longhorns ran the ball 35 times for a total of 68 yards, with Warren leading the way in yardage. However, freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger had the most attempts at 19 (10 yards, but, sacks are included). On the stat sheet, Texas stayed pretty balanced (35 runs vs. 40 passing attempts), but overall it was a game plan that lacked the strong running game with Warren that was seen against the Spartans.
4 (again): There were plenty of missed opportunities that hurt Texas, but among the most damaging were four turnovers, which either cost Texas points or stalled any sort of offensive momentum. Ehlinger finished with two interceptions while the Longhorns fumbled three times, losing two of them. One of those fumbles came on a bad snap from center Zach Shackelord, who had communication issues with Ehlinger all night. The other came at the goal line in Texas’ second overtime, when Ehlinger attempted for extra yardage. USC recovered and went on to hit it’s game-winning field goal.
5: After failing to record any non-offensive scores last season, the Longhorns have proved that won’t be much of a problem under Tom Herman and Co. this season. Texas added another interception returned for a score on Saturday, this time from defensive back DeShon Elliott, who finished with two interceptions., to put Texas at five non-offensive touchdowns this season. Elliott’s score came on a 38-yard return towards the end of the first half that gave the Longhorns some much-needed momentum, having failed to get much going on offense. Elliott’s contest against USC was one of his best since he’s been on campus and an encouraging sign for a secondary that struggled outside of Holton Hill through the first two games of the season.
9: The most promising part of Texas pushing No. 4 USC to double overtime may have been its defensive performance to get it there. The Longhorns finished with nine tackles for loss, including three sacks on quarterback Sam Darnold. To compare, Texas had just five tackles (two sacks) for loss in its first two games combined. USC also allowed just three sacks in its first two games. On the backs of Charles Omenihu and Poona Ford, Texas’ defensive line took a big step forward on Saturday and got pressure from all different angles on Darnold. Texas also stopped USC on all three of its fourth-down attempts, including a goal-line stand in the first quarter.
After the game the quarterback told FOX, “the defensive coordinator at Texas [Todd Orlando], he knows what he’s doing for sure.”
— Hookem Football (@hornsfootball) September 17, 2017
71: Adding to the impressive defensive performance was just the 71 rushing yards Texas gave up against USC. Through the first two contests, the Trojans tallied an average of 269.5 yards per game on the ground and last weekend against No. 14 Stanford, running backs Ronald Jones III and Stephen Carr both ran for over 100 yards. But against Texas, Jones (18 carries) had just 47 yards and Carr (nine carries) just 27.
73: After limiting its self-inflicting wounds last weekend, Texas hurt itself again, sometimes when it mattered most, against USC. The Longhorns finished with 10 penalties for 73 yards against the Trojans. It was the little things like a personal foul penalty over 30 yards off the line of scrimmage and a holding call that took back a first down on a fourth-down punt fake that added up for Texas. That’s also on top of several mental errors that pushed the Horns back.
130: Similar to Texas, USC’s defense was a large part of keeping the Trojans in contention mostly because the Longhorns continued to stifle Darnold for most of the night. In the first four quarters, Texas held USC to 130 yards under its two-game average this so far this season. Before overtime began, the Trojans had 442 yards of offense and a large part of that were several chunk plays towards the end of both halves.
191: If you were wondering where Collin Johnson has been for much of this season so far, he gave you an answer on Saturday. The 6-foot-6 receiver finished with 191 receiving yards on seven catches, which led both teams by a large number. Several of the catches were athletic, eye-popping grabs as well, including a fully extended diving catch that led to a field goal in the second half and one that went for 47 yards on Texas’ final drive of regulation. Johnson proved again he can come up big for the Longhorns when he’s given the ball and when he’s needed.
298: In his road debut, Ehlinger struggled at points, but he fought down the stretch. He finished with 298 passing yards, completing 21 of his 40 attempts and added two touchdowns. He also had 19 rushes for 10 yards. The true freshman looked rattled in front of a sell-out crowd in the first half, but settled in towards the end and even led Texas with several timely throws on a late drive that put them ahead (at least for the moment). It’s unclear who will be the starter going forward, but Ehlinger earned to have his name squarely in the mix.