The Texas Longhorns are riding high right now. They are coming off a huge 37-14 home win against a ranked USC Trojans football team. The Longhorns are 2-1 for the season and have their sights set on a Big 12 Championship trophy. Expect the stands to be packed and the crowd to be rowdy, Saturday, when the slightly favored TCU Horned Frogs roll into town. TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson has been talking about the Longhorns X-factor.
What is an X-factor? A variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.
Wow! The X-factor is obviously a big deal. Let’s take a closer look at the player that Patterson believes could have the most significant impact for the Longhorns football team.
QB Sam Ehlinger
The 6’3″, 235 pound sophomore is from Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. He was a four star recruit in the class of 2017. He played his high school football under head coach, Todd Dodge. Teammates and coaches say Ehlinger is mature way beyond his years and call him an old soul. Ehlinger knows personal tragedy first hand and had to grow up fast. His father died, while competing in San Francisco’s Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, in 2013, Sam was in eighth grade.
Last year, Ehlinger played in nine games with six starts as a freshman. He became the first Longhorn since, Colt McCoy in 2008, to lead the program in both passing and rushing yards in a season. He completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He had 368 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground.
This season, Ehlinger has completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 723 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. He has 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground.
Here is the “X-factor” beating the Trojans with his feet.
Some people in Longhorn Nation were slightly offended that Patterson called Ehlinger a running back playing quarterback. It was surely meant as a compliment to his running ability and not a slight to his throwing ability. But apparently not everyone took it that way.
Lets look at the “X-factor” throwing the football.
Ehlinger had a rough outing in the first week of the season against Maryland. His completion percentage was barely over 50% and he threw two costly fourth quarter interceptions. A lot of fans were calling for Ehlinger to be benched for former starter and junior, Shane Beuchele. Head Coach, Tom Herman, refused to bench Ehlinger, stating they need stability at the QB position. He has played much better since.
Ehlinger has a few dangerous weapons in the passing attack. Let’s take a look at the two most lethal.
WR Lil ‘Jordan Humphrey
Don’t let the name fool you. He is not little. The third year wide receiver, out of Southlake Carroll, is 6’4″ and 222 pounds. He was named honorable mention All-Big 12 last year. So far, this year, he has 17 catches for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Watch him take this one to the house against the Trojans.
WR Collin Johnson
This guy is gigantic. He is a 6’6″, 220 pound junior out of San Jose, California. His father is, college football hall of fame member and 10 year NFL player, Johnnie Johnson. His brother, Kirk, is a running back on the team. Collin was named third team preseason All-Big 12. He has 13 catches for 175 yards and one touchdown this season.
Current ESPN analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who played linebacker for the Longhorns, wants this guy to get the ball 24-7.
This may be why. Check out this grab.
These two guys account for 30 of Ehlinger’s 57 completions as well as three of his six touchdown passes.
The Longhorns have not yet faced a defense nearly as nasty as the 2018 Flying Frogs defense. This one will be fun to watch.
If you need a ride to the game, check out the KillerFrogs.com bus trip extravaganza.