Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger will be Texas’ starting quarterback in the season opener against Maryland, head coach Tom Herman announced in a post-practice media availability Monday morning.
The announcement comes after a two-and-a-half week battle between Ehlinger and junior quarterback Shane Buechele.
“Sam took the bulk of the reps with the ones today,” Herman said. “... Barring any type of catastrophe between now and the Maryland game, that’s the way it’ll be.”
While Buechele, a third-year quarterback, has an upper-hand in experience, he will now have to watch Ehlinger start under center in the season opener.
“He (Buechele) was disappointed,” Herman said. “But he was mature about it. He said, ‘I’ll be ready.’”
The case for Ehlinger was simple: He has a higher ceiling and a lower basement. He has electrified the offense but has also costed Texas with game-ending turnovers.
So what exactly did Sam do to earn the job?
“He’s throwing the ball a lot better,” Herman said. “He’s sitting in the pocket much more comfortably. Let’s make no mistake, Shane Buechele had a great camp. He didn’t really do anything wrong. … It was just a matter of who do we feel gives you the best chance to win.”
While Ehlinger has earned the starting spot outright, Herman didn’t completely slam the door on the possibility of Buechele getting to see the field on Sept. 1 if Texas puts on a performance similar to last year’s loss in the season opener.
“It wouldn't be a rotation,” Herman said. “There is a scenario if things aren't going well then we can throw Shane in there for a spark but we’re certainly not going to guarantee that.”
Aside from the quarterbacks, there has also been a huge question mark surrounding the running backs. Herman previously said they will likely go with three running backs in the Maryland game, but after Monday’s media availability, there’s now a clear look at who those three backs will be.
“Right now there’s Daniel Young, Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram,” Herman said. “And right behind them is Kyle Porter and Toneil Carter and behind them is Kirk Johnson and Tristan Houston. I don’t know if that’s a pecking order or not, but in terms of reps that guys get in practice, that’ll be the percentage.”
The Longhorns were placed at No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason top-25 poll released Monday morning. Tom Herman and the No. 23 Longhorns are set to take on Maryland at FedEx Field on Sept. 1.