Texas players met with the media on Tuesday after practice to discuss Saturday’s AT&T Red River Showdown against No. 12 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Here are two notes from Tuesday’s media availability.
Ehlinger takes charge on offense
Just five games into his Texas career, freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger has already started three times for the Longhorns at quarterback as sophomore Shane Buechele has been forced to miss time due to injuries. And after Ehlinger’s performance last Saturday against Kansas State, the true freshman just might have done enough to win the starting job.
On Monday, head coach Tom Herman refused to name a starter and said he wants to wait and see how healthy Buechele is before making a decision. Buechele is still nursing a sprained ankle from the Iowa State game on Sept. 28.
But the talk from Texas players on Tuesday was about how Ehlinger has seemingly taken control of the reins from behind center.
“(Ehlinger) just wants it,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “I think he’s a guy that has a lot of poise. He believes in himself.”
Jefferson, as well as a few other Texas players, watched from the sideline when state power Katy High School played against Ehlinger and Westlake High School last year in Austin. Ehlinger led the Chaparrals to a thrilling 32-29 victory on that night, and Jefferson had a front row seat to witness what Ehlinger could do.
“I could tell what type of player he was,” Jefferson said. “I didn’t need to ask any questions. I just sat back and watched him play.”
Mayfield’s comment adds to Saturday’s storylines
On Monday, senior Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield stirred the pot when he took a shot at Ehlinger. Mayfield, an Austin native who starred at Westlake’s rival, Lake Travis High School, was asked what he knew about Ehlinger. Mayfield couldn’t help but sneak in a quick dig.
“He went to Westlake and he’s never beaten Lake Travis,” Mayfield said.
The dig was a true statement, nonetheless. Westlake went 0–3 against Lake Travis when Ehlinger played for the Chaparrals.
Coincidentally, Westlake and Lake Travis play each other on Friday night in Austin, a day before the two schools’ former quarterbacks will meet at the Red River Showdown in Dallas.
If Ehlinger is indeed called upon again to lead the Longhorns, he’ll do so in Texas’ biggest game on the schedule in front of over 92,000 fans at the Cotton Bowl.
“I just tell him, ‘It’s a big game — you can’t shy away from that,’” sophomore wide receiver Collin Johnson said. “Let’s just go about it the same way we went about all the other games that we played.”