AUSTIN — Texas coach Tom Herman got his first win as Longhorns coach with a convincing 56-0 victory over San Jose State today at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. Here’s my Five Quick Thoughts following UT’s first victory in the Herman era.
1. Texas ran the dang ball and looked good doing it. Heavy doses of Chris Warren ( 166 yards, 10 ypc, 2 TDs), Kyle Porter ( 73, 4.5 ypc, 1 TD), Jerrod Heard (39, 4.5 ypc, 2 TD), and San Ehlinger (48 yards) to the tune of 411 yards. You can throw in Toneil Carter (56 yards, 9.3 ypc, 1 TD) and that’s the ingredients for a successful day. Texas also went over 600 total yards for the 27th time in school history. UT also doubled San Jose State on time of possession, plus 6-of-6 scoring TDs in the red zone.
2. Despite early lapses, the Texas defense played stout on Saturday. They need to do two main things; stop the run and really stop the run. Mission accomplished. After yielding 482 yards to the Terrapins last Saturday, the defense held the Spartans to 171 total yards, and 3.4 yards per play. There were some mental lapses early. Blown coverages, poor tackling angles, and over pursuit. It helped that San Jose State shot itself in the foot in the first half. Two potential INTs, and two all-so-close TD grabs. Sometimes you need a little luck to win. Tackling was significantly better, at least along the front 7. Malik Jefferson led all tacklers with seven, Josh Thompson added six, while Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler had five a piece. Holton Hill’s pick-6 for the second consecutive game was refreshing. And newcomer Gary Johnson showed some flashes including a pair of tackles for loss.
When the Horns travel to USC next weekend, the mental lapses will have to be far and few between because the Trojans boast the future NFL signal-caller Sam Darnold. That’s a big test and I can’t wait to see.
3. The true freshman does his job. When Sam Ehlinger got the call he’d be the starter, he knew he had to execute the offense, play within his limits, and put his teammates in the best position to succeed. Another mission complete. The best part was seeing Sam’s instincts take over. He knows how long to sit in the pocket and wait for his receivers, and he knows when to tuck it and run. Him having a clean pocket helped him tremendously so kudos to Derek Warehime and his hogmollies. Sam finished 15 of 27 for 222 yards in the air, 48 on the ground, and 1 TD. Most importantly, no sacks, no turnovers. Notably, Ehlinger and the offense scored TDs on 3-of-the-last-4 drives to close out the first half, while avoiding any 3-and-outs. That was critical.
4. The Good, Bad, and Ugly. Let’s start with the ugly; Texas left SJSU receivers open and just avoided giving up big plays that could’ve turned this rout into a ballgame. Passes overthrown, turnovers, and missed INTs proved to costly to the 25-point underdog. The bad was the early nervousness of Ehlinger and some passes that weren’t so crisp. Honestly, they were mostly catchable balls, and even then, Texas still had multiple dropped passes. Sam’s anxiousness will slowly exit his mindset with more reps and experience. Now, the good. Holton Hill leads the Longhorns in TDs. Once a fringe player of sticking it out in Austin, Hill has made a major turnaround and seems to be in the right place at the right time. Let that sink in. They added another non-offensive score. Special teams punting and coverage looked better (not including the kicker), and the offensive line played well.
5. Who starts vs USC next weekend in Los Angeles? We know the incumbent Shane Buechele will continue to be evaluated this next week, but the longer he doesn’t throw the ball, the more likely Ehlinger gets the nod at the LA Coliseum. For the Horns, blowing out SJSU was a must for morale and confidence heading into the rematch of the 2005 National Championship.
Ultimately, Texas will have to play the guy that gives them the best chance of winning. I’ll let the fans decide that this week.