Keys to the Game: vs. Oklahoma

Wills Layton

Get the run game going

While the team rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns in the double overtime win over Kansas State last weekend, those numbers overstate the effectiveness of the run game. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger ran for the lion’s share of the yards, tallying 107 yards on 20 attempts, compared to the Texas running backs’ 59 combined yards.

The scrambling heroics of Ehlinger saved the porous offensive line from all kinds of defensive pressure, but he can’t run forever. With a young and injury-riddled offensive line still learning how to play cohesively, the running backs must pick up the slack.

Despite being upset by Iowa State last weekend, No. 12 Oklahoma has given up a paltry 141 combined yards to Iowa State and Baylor in the last two weeks. If the Longhorns hope to pull off the upset against the Sooners, they’ll need a much improved rushing attack.

Continue to develop Ehlinger

Ehlinger has impressed many during the first three starts of his collegiate career. His notable outing against then-No. 4 USC in Week 3 captivated the hearts of the Longhorn faithful, but perhaps the biggest challenge of his young
career will be his upcoming matchup with Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma’s Heisman candidate quarterback, this weekend.

Overall, Ehlinger delivered a strong performance against Kansas State last weekend, but still made freshman mistakes. During the first play of the game, he misfired a deep ball that ended up being intercepted.

As a true freshman, Ehlinger still has much to learn about the ins and outs of playing at the collegiate level. A strong performance against the Sooners could accelerate the learning process for the young quarterback.

Make every field goal

Junior kicker Joshua Rowland continues to struggle this season, making only four of his nine kicks this year. Rowland missed two kicks against Kansas State — a 27-yard attempt to tie the game and a 45-yard attempt that would’ve won the game in regulation. While Texas went on to win in double overtime, Rowland had multiple opportunities to end the game earlier.

The Red River Rivalry is important to both sides of the contest. Texas hopes to remain undefeated in Big 12 play, while the Sooners hope to right the ship on their season. The difference between hope and reality could lie in the hands of Rowland this weekend.