Keys to the Game: vs. Texas Tech

Wills Layton

Don’t take the foot off the gas 

The Longhorns clinched bowl eligibility by virtue of their 28-14 win over West Virginia last week, and with that milestone hit, the team may be inclined to relax for the rest of the season. However, the team can still play for a guaranteed winning season, the first since Mack Brown’s last season in 2013.

Texas Tech has everything to play for in the season finale, as they sit on a 5–6 record after a loss to TCU last week. Given that playing Texas always seems to get the best out of the Tech players, any letting up on behalf of Texas would lead to a home loss that would spoil Thanksgiving for the Longhorn faithful.

While becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2014 is a promising step in the tenure of head coach Tom Herman, a winning season would be favorable for burnt orange fans. This will take a full effort from the Longhorns.

Start Sam Ehlinger

Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele was not playing poorly when he got pulled from the game versus West Virginia, but the offense needed a spark. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger came into the game and immediately galvanized the offense, throwing for two touchdowns and igniting the rushing attack.

It is important to remember that Ehlinger is still a true freshman, and every game he plays in gives vital experience to the quarterback. While he had several drive-saving plays, he also made several mistakes, including throwing a pick-six while being taken down with West Virginia defenders swarming. It was eerily similar to the game-killing interception he threw versus Oklahoma State.

As he gets more reps, Ehlinger will continue to improve. Therefore, the team must live with his mistakes and allow him to start the next game versus Tech.

Feed the run game

The rushing attack led by Ehlinger and freshman Daniel Young looked competent for what seems like the first time this season, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and accumulating more than 230 yards. Ehlinger’s ability to scramble keeps defenses on their toes, opening lanes for the running backs.

Against a Tech defense that just gave up over 200 yards and one touchdown to TCU, the running offense of the Longhorns has the chance to build momentum on its impressive performance.

If the Longhorns want to win the game versus the Red Raiders and guarantee themselves a winning season, the run attack must remain competent and open up passing lanes for Ehlinger.