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True Tenacity

Why Sam Ehlinger deserves to start for the University of Texas

LJ Heider

Zach Dimmitt, Sports Writer

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The sold out Coliseum fell into a hushed roar, a roar that held emotion and intense anxiety all in that singular moment. The USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns had been at war for four quarters and an overtime, seeing themselves both stuck at 24 a piece. The Trojan’s freshman kicker Chase McGrath trotted onto the field to attempt a 49 yard field goal, which would seal the win for the Trojan’s and cement their place in the legendary ruins of Texas vs. USC, a matchup that had not been seen since Vince Young’s historic run into the right corner of the end zone in the 2006 National Championship.

“Clean snap, good hold…BALL GAME!” the colorful and ecstatic sports announcer Gus Johnson exclaimed as McGrath sprinted down the field with his teammates after hitting the game winning field goal in celebration of their 27-24 win over the Longhorns in double overtime

The play of the young Texas quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, was one of the major factors that helped keep the game close. His performance gave many Longhorn fans hope, as Ehlinger has proved that he deserves the starting job.

The amatuer side of Ehlinger did cause the game to lean in the Trojans favor. His fumble a few plays prior had set up the game winning field goal for USC. He was stripped at the Trojan’s 2 yard line, giving USC possession and allowing McGrath to drill the game winner. The true freshman had done all he could all game long, but he wasn’t able to power through the opposing front seven at the goal line.

In only his second career start, Ehlinger threw for nearly 300 yards and tossed 2 touchdowns against the number four team in the country. The inexperience of Ehlinger and the pass rush pressure by the Trojans did however force a few mistakes out of the Westlake High School product, which included 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles.

The box score displays an above average game with a fair amount of mistakes for Ehlinger. Yet, what was most impressive about the QB play of the 18 year old was something that won’t show up on the score sheet. Ehlinger displayed flat out toughness, with his ability to avoid the pass rush and fight for every inch when running the ball himself. He exhibited natural instincts when faced with pressure in the pocket, spinning away from Trojan defensive lineman, to free himself up and throw a bullet to an open receiver. The intangibles and unearthed skill that Ehlinger displayed might have proven that Texas has found a new starting quarterback that has the ability to compete against the best in the conference.

When Texas faced Maryland in Week 1, QB Shane Buechele had the starting job, but played average in a 51-41 loss. Buechele hurt his throwing shoulder in that game, opening up the door for Ehlinger to prove he was deserving of handling the reins of the offense. Buechele has never quite displayed the physical and mental toughness that Ehlinger has. Those intangibles alone are what can make an average quarterback into a special one.

Ehlinger deserves the starting job for the rest of the season, as his sneaky athleticism, raw talent, and tenacious toughness have the potential to get Texas over the slump, and become a legitimate contender in the Big 12 Conference again. As new head coach of the Texas Longhorns, Tom Herman now has a big decision on his hands.

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