Sam Ehlinger is sneaking more into the Heisman conversation every week. The Longhorn quarterback is putting up some of the best stats in the Big 12 against some top opponents, moving his odds up every week.
The junior from Austin matches the archetype of lots of college football quarterbacks: big, fast and a rocket arm.
“I think he’s special, he’s a tough kid,” said West Virginia coach Neal Brown. “I think he’s improved his passing ability, he’s been extremely accurate thus far. He’s a tough tackle.”
Standing at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing around 230 pounds, Ehlinger physically resembles Missouri QB Kelly Bryant, who the Mountaineers struggled to tackle in week 2.
“I think Kelly Bryant moved a little bit better than [Ehlinger] does,” said linebacker Shea Campbell. “I know that Sam’s a great athlete, he’s physical, he’s tough, he’s smart. It’s gonna be a challenge this week, I think he provides more of a bigger body and I don’t think he’s afraid to put his head down.”
Ehlinger isn’t the most prolific of runners, but he can definitely showed that he can make a difference with his feet against Oklahoma State — his 29-yard dash in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for the Longhorns.
Not only can he move, but he can throw — and he has weapons who can catch. Senior Devin Duvernay leads the Big 12 in receptions by a wide margin, averaging 9.8 catches per game.
“He’s a player,” Brown said. “He’s got 39 receptions in 4 games, I mean, that’s difficult to do.”
Duvernay, along with guys like Brennan Eagles and Jake Smith, leads one of the formidable receiving corps in the country. They are able to diversify their passing attack, mixing deep shots to Eagles with quick hits like screens and RPOs to Duvernay, making it tough for defenses to defend.
On top of that, Texas is expecting Collin Johnson (985 receiving yards in 2018) to make his return to the field after going down in week 2 against LSU.
While Ehlinger can lead the passing attack and make plays on his feet, the Longhorns’ ground game is led by returning running back Keaontay Ingram. The sophomore has put up the eighth-most rushing yards in the Big 12, but struggled in 2018 against West Virginia.
The Mountaineer offense has the chance to make a splash against an inexperienced but skillful Longhorn defense. Although they have a lot of youth, Brown says they’re tough to prepare for due to their depth.
“They play a lot of different guys,” Brown said. “They’ve had some injuries there, but they’ve got a lot of depth — and I can’t tell a whole lot of difference between their ones and their twos. I think they’re really talented.”