Image via Getty Images (Tim Warner)
What can I say, Texas likes to keep everyone on their toes. In their second double OT game of the season they beat Kansas State and improve to 3-2 on the season. There were a lot things to like about this game for Texas, but the clear #1 thing was QB Sam Ehlinger. Here are some of my thoughts from Texas’ 40-34 double OT win.
– Ehlinger’s Team? QB Sam Ehlinger did it all last night for Texas. He finshed 30-50 for 380 yards 2 TD’s and 1 INT plus 107 yards on 20 carries on the ground. There’s no way in my mind you could go back to Shane Buechele after last night, and I don’t think Texas will. Tom Herman might not name Ehlinger the starting QB on Monday, just to keep the possible thought in the back of OU’s mind about seeing Shane Buechele. Though I’m sure they know it’ll be Ehlinger. Outside of Ehlinger’s first throw of the day on the INT, he was really good in the passing game. He did a really good job of using the short passing game over the middle to negate a lot of blitzes Kansas State threw at him. And he’s a physical runner that is fun to watch from a QB in this offense. The Texas offense accounted for 546 yards of total offense, and Ehlinger was in on 487 of them.
– Texas Defense: The biggest key for the Texas defense was to stop the Kansas State run game. Todd Orlando and his defense did a really good job of doing that in the first half. It was clear Jesse Ertz wasn’t at 100% and looked like a better passer than runner. Ertz only carried the ball 9 times for 4 yards. But the backup QB in Alex Delton entered the game in the second half and is a much more elusive runner than Ertz, and he gave the Texas D some issues. He finished the game with 79 yards and 2 TD’s on 12 carries. In the second half the Texas defense struggled vs the run, but they did enough to get the win. And this will be the last time in the regular season that Texas faces an offense like Kansas State’s. As the real air-raid offenses of the Big 12 are next on Texas’ schedule.
– Big 3 WR’s: After watching the game, in my mind it looks like there are 3 WR’s that have or are separating themselves from the pack for Texas. The main two are Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, the other is Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Hemphill-Mapps finished the night with 12 catches for 121 yards, Johnson had 7 catches for 92 yards, and Humphrey caught 4 passes for 60 yards. Armanti Foreman was nowhere to be found last night, I’m not sure if he’s in the doghouse right now or something else. Jerrod Heard caught a big TD in OT but hasn’t been a consistant target in 2017. Johnson/Hemphill/Humphrey is a really nice trio to build around with Sam Ehlinger.
– New OL: Denzel Okafor got his first start at LT last night, Terrell Cuney got his first start at C, and true freshman Derek Kerstetter started his 2nd game at RT last night. They all had quiet nights, which was good news. There were no holding calls, Ehlinger had to evade pressure at times but they did a solid job overall. I can’t see Denzel Okafor losing the LT job to anyone but Connor Williams unless he’s injured or just has a terrible week of practice. Kerstetter seems to have the RT job locked down right now, and Cuney likely won’t start if Zach Shackelford returns this week but he showed he can hold his own when his name is a called upon. A challenge awaits as they’re going to have to face some really good pass rushers next week vs OU.
– PJ Locke: One guy I noticed that really had some struggles last night was DB PJ Locke. K-State WR Dalton Schoen caught 5 passes for 128 yards and 2 TD’s. Locke wasn’t covering him on every play but he was when Schoen caught an 82 and a 12 yard TD. He also struggled vs the run when Alex Delton came in and bounced a few runs on the outside.
– Give Tim Beck some credit: There has been a lot of negative comments made about OC Tim Beck in 2017, but he called a really solid game last night. Part of the reason is because I feel the offense Beck wants to run fits Sam Ehlinger’s game much more than it does Shane Buechele’s. And no matter what people say, coaches want to coach what they know best. And Herman/Beck have had the most success in their careers with a QB that can run the ball. Beck’s call on the 33-yard TD pass from Ehlinger to Chris Warren to cut K-State’s lead to 3 late in the first half was a perfect call. Also using the quick passing game over the middle the negate some of Kansas State’s blitzing late in the game was huge.
– QUICK HITTERS: How big was Chris Warren’s fumble recovery on Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s knee-fumble on his attempted hurdle? Later that drive Josh Rowland hit a 34-yard FG to tie the game late in the 4th quarter. If Warren doesn’t recover that fumble, Texas likely loses.
Chris Warren also deserves a lot of credit for his effort on the game winning TD in the 2nd OT, but RT Derek Kerstetter and TE Kendall Moore also deserve some as well. They were the first two players to start pushing the pile to help get Warren into the endzone.
Texas overcomes another tough night from K Josh Rowland.
Texas is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2013. That’s crazy to think about, and now they play arguably two of the Top three teams in the Big 12 over the next two weeks in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Being able to at least split those two games would be huge for Texas. Beating a scrappy Kansas State team was the first big hurdle, and Texas did that.