The AT&T Red River Showdown seems to be coming at the right time for Texas. Coming off a 40-34 double-overtime victory over Kansas State and a 17-7 win over Iowa State, the Longhorns now look much more confident than they appeared in their season-opening loss on Sept. 2.
The Longhorns (3–2, 2–0 Big 12) now sit atop the Big 12 standings tied with No. 6 TCU heading into Saturday’s battle with No. 12 Oklahoma. Two days removed from Texas’ double-overtime victory. Here’s what head coach Tom Herman said in his press conference Monday afternoon.
No starter announced despite Ehlinger’s strong effort
Although freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger put together an impressive performance on Saturday night, during which he threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns in Texas’ double-overtime victory, Herman is not ready to name him the starter for the Red River Showdown on Saturday. And he has more than one reason.
“(Ehlinger) made a lot of mistakes,” Herman said. “There’s no doubt he also played really tough and well and physical, but I don’t know what good it tells me to tell Mike Stoops and Lincoln Riley what I feel about my quarterback situation.”
Herman said if sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele is not 100 percent, Ehlinger will most likely have the job for Saturday. He also said that if Buechele shows some improvement in practice, then both quarterbacks will be evaluated before a decision is made.
Texas’ struggles in kicking game continue
Texas, we have a problem – the Longhorn kicking game. Junior kicker Joshua Rowland missed two field goals Saturday night, missing from 27 and 45 yards, respectively. The latter try came with 0:02 left in regulation, costing Texas a walkoff win in regulation. That would come two overtimes later.
“I’m still trying to figure out the whole kicking thing,” Herman said. “We kicked (with Rowland) last night. He was 15 for 15 with six made from beyond 50 yards. Tomorrow we’re gonna put more pressure, have the whole team stand around him screaming and yelling, but that’s not 100,000 people with the game on the line.”
Herman said if Rowland and the kicking game becomes problematic, they will “not repeatedly perform the same act and expect different results.” However, the coaching staff will exhaust all possible avenues to prepare Rowland for any game-winning situations.
If Rowland doesn’t show some signs of improvement in Dallas, look for a kicking change in the near future. However, don’t expect too many field goal attempts. Herman has repeatedly expressed his distaste for field goals, specifically short attempts. That was obvious when the Longhorns opted to go for it on fourth and goal early in the game and failed.
“I hate 20-yard field goals, man,” Herman said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me in terms of cost benefit. I think faced with the same situation again, you’re gonna see us go for it again.”
Despite questions surrounding both quarterbacks and the lack of a kicking game, Texas has plenty of reason for confidence after starting 2–0 in Big 12 play. However, keep an eye on both positions throughout the week as the Longhorns prepare for the Red River Rivalry.