The Texas Longhorns came into this season with few expectations. Coming off a 7-6 season in 2017, the Longhorns are still searching for a breakaway to becoming a dominant top-ten ranked team again. After defeating two ranked teams in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2008, UT may finally be showing signs of returning to its old historic and successful form.
The Emergence of Sam Ehlinger
Ehlinger was named the starting quarterback shortly before the season began. Last year, as a true freshman, Ehlinger started six games and led the team in both passing and rushing yards, becoming the first since Colt McCoy (2008) to do so.
Ehlinger is off to a good start. In three of the four first games this season, he’s completed over 50 percent of his passes. In his last three games, he’s thrown two touchdowns and rushed for one, becoming the third quarterback in school history to toss two touchdowns and run in for one in three straight games. Ehlinger is fifth in the Big 12 in average passing yards per game with 245 and his 79 completions put him in third.
But despite Ehlinger’s early successes, having an effective running game is vital for a dominant offense as it helps alleviate pressure for the signal caller . The Texas running game has not been good so far, as not a single player has rushed for 100 yards. The team is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, putting them at ninth in the conference.
Ehlinger has been probably the team’s most effective runner at quarterback. They are a good team without a running game, but in order to compete with Oklahoma and West Virginia they need to be able to pound the rock. The last thing they need is to be trying to compete in a track meet with those teams.
The defense is finding its groove
Texas forced four turnovers against TCU. Prior to their bout with TCU, the Longhorns had only forced three. One of the lessons learned in their win against TCU is that the game is much easier when you have possession of the rock. Just look at Alabama during their dynasty run under Nick Saban.
Texas is second in the Big 12 in intercepted passes as well as in rushing defense. However, they’ve got a lot to work on as they’re second to last in sacks and they’re allowing an average of 245 passing yards per game.Generating some pressure up front will reduce that yardage and we should see more turnovers when a quarterback feels rushed. Texas might look to run more exotic blitz packages to compensate for that lack of a sack maestro.
Texas will play against the Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas. Texas has lost five straight to K-State on the road so they’re coming into yet another challenge. At 3-1, the Texas Longhorns are off to their best start since 2012 and they’re on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2014. It’s still way too early to be sure that Texas football is officially back, but they’re heading in the right direction.
This article was originally published here at Unfiltered Access.