October 11, 2017
AUSTIN – While the college football world waits to see who will start at quarterback for Texas in Saturday’s 112th edition of the AT&T Red River Showdown (2:30 p.m., ESPN) against No. 12 Oklahoma, Tim Beck didn’t tip his hand following Wednesday’s practice.
Asked if Sam Ehlinger, fresh off of tallying 487 yards of total offense in a 40-34 double-overtime win over Kansas State, is the guy given how he’s performed when on the field, the Texas offensive coordinator played things close to the vest.
“I think right now, Sam is the hot name,” Beck said. “I know all the media and fans and everybody feels that he’s the guy. Our job is to win football games with the best guy out there. Whoever that is, week to week, day to day, game to game is going to be the guy.
“Whoever moves the football is going to play.”
Ehlinger, who had a 30-for-50 passing performance with a pair of touchdowns against the Wildcats, moved the ball better against K-State than Buechele did against Iowa State. The 17-7 win in Ames two weeks ago saw the offense struggle to get anything going (four yards per play, 2.7 yards per rushing attempt) while Ehlinger’s third career start against what had been a stout K-State defense entering the contest saw the Longhorns move the ball to the tune of four-consecutive scoring drives at one point. That’s something the Longhorns haven’t done against a Power Five opponent since a win over Texas Tech last Nov. 5.
“We haven’t said anything to anybody yet about what we’re doing,” Beck said.
While the public stance of the Texas coaches carries a strong scent of gamesmanship with it, Beck maintained on Wednesday that Buechele is someone the staff still views as being a capable quarterback. Though Ehlinger’s ability to extend plays and create on the move seems to trump the experience and accuracy of Buechele based on the offensive line situation being less than desirable, Beck likes what he’s seen from Buechele through his two starts in 2017.
“I’m not down on Shane’s play,” Beck said. “I don’t think that Shane has played bad.”
Beck, however, had nothing but praise for what Ehlinger did against K-State.
“He played with a lot of passion, a lot of juice, he brings that to the offense and I really like that,” Beck said. “He made a decision and he lived with it whether he was right or wrong. He had some throws that he probably could’ve threw instead of running, but he played fast and he made plays. I don’t want to take that away from him. I want him to continue to do that.”
Beck is also fine with Ehlinger continuing to bowl over defensive backs at the end of runs the way he did against the Wildcats.
“I absolutely love that,” Beck said. “The toughest guy on your team has to be your quarterback because that’s the nature of your football team.
“When he can play like that and be a physical player and presence and play with a lot of juice and really fast, it means the offense is probably doing the same.”
Even though Beck and Herman won’t come out and say it, Texas (3-2, 2-0 in the Big 12) is two days of prep into the Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1) game and all signs are pointing to Ehlinger being in the saddle when the offense takes the field for the first time in the Cotton Bowl.