Texas hasn’t run a quarterback sneak in two years. And still, the Texas offense runs the play every Thursday to work on short yardage efficiency.
The short yardage call simply asks the quarterback, which has been Sam Ehlinger all season, to line up under the center, take the snap and follow his offensive line. Backup quarterback Shane Buechele, who once led the Texas offense, before losing the job to Ehlinger, stood 15 yards behind the play.
He wasn’t there to spectate, though. Buechele lined up, put his hands under a make-believe center and took reps by himself.
Head coach Tom Herman took notice — that’s why he didn’t blink an eye when Buechele had to replace an injured Sam Ehlinger in the first quarter of Texas’ 23-17 win over Baylor.
“I don’t think there was any doubt in anybody’s mind how prepared he was because we watch him every day,” Herman said in the postgame press conference. “And what an unbelievable teammate he has been, especially considering, you know, what’s gone on other places in the country.”
Backup quarterbacks, or former starters who are later benched, have created buzz in college football all year. Most notable is the situation at Clemson. The powerhouse program received national attention when former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant announced his intention to transfer schools after getting benched by Dabo Swinney.
That hasn’t been an issue inside the Longhorn program.
“It’s just coming to light the kind of person he is because we see a lot of quarterbacks or any position around the nation that are in his position, and we see them transfer or move away from their team,” Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson said. “If they don’t agree with it, they just leave. We see Shane, he shows up to practice every day giving his best because that’s all he knows.”
In his first appearance since the Texas Bowl, Buechele finished with 20-for-34 for 184 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he helped the Texas offense put up 23 points, which proved to be just enough to secure the win.
After the game, Buechele was called up to talk in front of the team in the locker room.
“I want to say thank you to everybody in this room, man,” Buechele said in the locker room, in a video featured on the Longhorn Network. “Y’all having my back and trusting in me when stuff happens, I just love y’all. It was crazy, we never want that to happen. That’s a crazy, freak thing to happen but you had my back, and I appreciate every single one of y’all.”
After the game, Herman said Ehlinger sustained a sprained AC in his throwing shoulder. On Tuesday, Herman confirmed the sophomore quarterback is on schedule for his recovery.
Ehlinger is said to have received more range of motion in his shoulder. But for now, Shane Buechele is still taking snaps with the first team offense, and Herman seems to appreciate him more than ever.
“I cannot thank you enough, and I should thank you more, but I love the hell out of you,” Herman told Buechele in the locker room. “I will do whatever I can for you for the rest of your life because of how you’ve handled everything since I’ve been here.”