Sam Ehlinger threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns during Texas’ home opener against UT-El Paso Sept. 12, but after the game, the senior quarterback said he wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
"To tell you the truth, I'm actually pretty disappointed,” Ehlinger said. “I left a lot of throws out there that I should have made. I can't wait for the bye week to continue to get better, but I left a lot out there and I've got to get better."
Texas offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said in a Wednesday teleconference that even the best performances have room for improvement, whether that is correcting footwork, timing of throws or other details. Yurcich said he sometimes gives players space to progress on their own, so that they can build confidence and not overthink.
“As a coach, you have to be careful, especially when you’re dealing with a player as talented as we have,” Yurcich said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get out of their way, and that’s the balance of coaching and coaching too much.”
Ehlinger was upfront about his feelings on his opening performance, and this kind of transparency is crucial to playing quarterback, Yurcich said. He also said honest teams and players are ones that win games.
“You have to own it. You have to own everything that you do, you have to own every mistake,” Yurcich said.
Texas held UTEP to a mere three points, but defensive coordinator Chris Ash said the defense is not a finished product.
However, experienced players on the defensive side of the ball helps the team inch closer toward its goals, he said.
“They’ve got really good football IQ,” Ash said in a Wednesday teleconference. “They’ve picked up on things well. Even if we were asking them to do something completely different from the past, they understood it and they were able to take it from the media room to the practice field, and last Saturday to the game field for the most part. That’s definitely helped.”
The defense will face a Big 12 offense and a solid quarterback in Texas Tech’s Alan Bowman, so it may be more of a challenge to keep the Red Raiders off the board.
The Big 12 — known for its poor defensive play — is different from the leagues Ash has grown accustomed to in the last decade, such as the Big Ten. He left the conference in 2009 after serving as an assistant coach at Iowa State.
Ash said he hopes to change this narrative, and Texas has the players and coaches to do it.
“I’m excited to go through this league,” Ash said. “I’ve studied the league. I know what it’s been about in the past. I know the challenges that lie ahead this Saturday, specifically in Lubbock. They’re really big ones, but you know, I’m excited to prepare our players and our defense to go out and do something that people think can’t be done in the Big 12, and that’s play really good defense.”