AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns remain undefeated after winning the highest-scoring game in program history on Saturday at Texas Tech.
The Longhorns are ranked No. 9 in the latest national polls after the 63-56 overtime win over the Red Raiders. Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger willed the offense to a win, throwing three touchdowns in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime. For his efforts, Ehlinger has been named the Big 12 co-offensive player of the week.
Next, the Longhorns host TCU at home. Kickoff against the Horned Frogs will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. TCU lost its season opener 37-34 to Iowa State on Saturday.
Longhorns head coach Tom Herman met with the media on Monday to break down the match-up with TCU.
“Excited to not have an off week and get back to work in preparation for TCU. Glad to get out of Lubbock with a win. I know our guys were excited about practicing yesterday.”
RB Bijan Robinson – (back strain) didn’t practice on Sunday
WR Jake Smith – practiced at full speed and should be available against TCU
Was tackling as bad as you thought?
“Yes, it was as bad as I thought it was. I don’t know if it’s an adjustment. It comes from repetition. This is one of the drawbacks of no spring practice. We’ve got to put our heads together how in the world we can continue to drill this. We’re certainly not going to scrimmage our no. 1 offense every day…that’s not smart. The biggest improvement we’ll be something as simple as realizing the speed of the game. When you have no spring ball, scrimmage of any kind, and training camp when you’re careful of the live reps and your opening game is against a non-power five opponent. The speed of the game snuck up on us. Give Texas Tech credit they’ve got some great athletes.”
Moving on from Tech victory
“I don’t think you flush it just because you’re 2-0. Every game you better flush by the time you hit the sack Sunday night. Whether you win, the game you want to learn from the mistakes. There’s always something to improve upon. It does help when you learn some hard lessons in a win. Our players on defense, they’re embarrassed. They watched the same film as everybody else. It wasn’t really missed assignments or out of position…we just didn’t make plays. They won the game, they’re happy we won the game, but they understand we can’t accomplish our goals playing like that.”
Difficulty of playing TCU
“I don’t know that I was tremendously frustrated two years ago. You always want to score more points and hold them to less points. It gets frustrating sometimes…Gary, to his credit, they don’t do a whole lot. His players play really hard, he puts them in the right position and they’re extremely fundamentally sound. You have some false sense of confidence because other defenses…half the battle is figuring out where they’re blitzing or the schemes. Can we play more fundamentally sound than them? Can we play harder than them? It’s about making those opportunities count. They just do it so well that it’s extremely challenging.”
On tackling vs. Tech
“Tackling is huge. If we’d tackled every receiver near or where they caught the pass. When a team throws it 40 times, they’re going to complete passes. We’ve got to get them on the ground much better than we did. Some of those 50/50 balls we’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball out. People are going to complete passes. We’ve got to make sure to get them to the ground when they do.”
Grade for the secondary
“We teach wrapping up. Chris Ash is one of the foremost experts in the country in terms of teaching tackling. The teaching is not something I’m worried about…it’s the translation of that teaching into gameday. We’ve got to get better at that.
Probably a C or C-minus. We were assignment sound, didn’t have real coverage busts per say, we’ve just got to do a better job tackling and on 50/50 balls we’ve got to make some plays on them.”
How was Herman feeling in the final minutes of game?
“I don’t know what the TV cameras caught. I was with our quarterback. We had 3:13 left and we knew we could play better offensively even though we’d played pretty good for the most part. That third quarter was bizarro world…with two special teams scores for both sides and up until 54 seconds left in the third quater…our defense had given their offense 21 points and then they kind of flipped the script on us. When Sam said ‘coach, we’re going to tie this thung up and win it’. I wasn’t real stressed. I smiled with the athletic director who was on the sideline. We were very relaxed group even when adversity was hitting us from every side. Credit to our players. It was fairly easy to stay calm and confident because I saw the demeanor of our players. As long as they still believe, we’ve got a chance.”
On the offense and the team’s overall response
“I was pleased with the receivers. Those last three drives I thought they played really well. I was happy with the fact that we were able to run the ball for over 200 yards. Team-wide sense, I do feel like these guys have a different togetherness. Those guys were playing for each other. There were no excuses, no finger-pointing or blaming. It was all hands on deck to right the ship. I just enjoyed being around the players and infused confidence in everybody on the sideline.”
On the uniqueness of that game
“There’s a lot of things that happen in that game that I’ve never been around. To be part of the highest-scoring game in Texas football history and have neither team have over 500 yards of offense is mind-boggling to me that there could be that many points scored without the ridiculously gaudy numbers. Short answer, I’ve never been part of anything like that.”
Evaluation of offensive line and penalties
“We turn in questionable calls each week and there was about three or four of them that the head of officials agreed shouldn’t have been called. Some of these are early season…these are 2020 issues where we’re still learning and growing and we have a lot of growing left to do. I thought we opened up holes in the run game better than I thought. We could still handle some movement and pressure up front better than we did.”
On Saturday’s blocked punt
“No, it was not a schematic issue. It’s the same scheme we’ve been running for four years and we missed a block on the one we got blocked.”
On TCU quarterback Max Duggan
“He is dangerous with his legs and whether it’s designed runs or zone read type runs and just scrambles. We’ve got to be very disciplined in our rush lanes when they do drop back to pass and we’ve got to be disciplined when they’re trying to read a defender. Definitely presents a new challenge when it comes to making plays with his feet.”
On WR Brenden Schooler
“You should see the guy and how he prepares. It’s a testament to grad transfers on both sides of the ball. This guy has a tremendous feel for the game. He goes so hard and he makes up for a lot of small mistakes by his effort. If you’re a young receiver trying to earn the trust of your quarterback go watch Brenden Schooler. You want to earn the trust of your quarterback go out and play really hard. You do the little things right and you go really hard…quarterbacks tend to gravitate to players like that. We’re really glad we have them.”
Comparing Ehlinger to other quarterbacks
“There’s a lot in this country that would’ve checked it in. The dramatics of it. You have this guy bottled up. You just had to punt because a penalty and he runs right by you. His reaction, I would argue, is pretty unique. It’s not fake. I think that’s the beauty of it. Some quarterbacks know what they’re supposed to say and they say it. I think with Sam all of it’s real. You’d be surprised with how many quarterbacks would’ve checked it in
On scary moment for RB Bijan Robinson
I don’t know medically how he is OK. Probably a testament to his athleticism and fluidity. Everything is a first when you’re a true freshman. His first time trying to hurdle a guy in college. Lesson learned, he gets it. He chuckles about it. There’s going to be other hard learned lessons in the future but the best way to learn is to experience them.”
On TCU safeties
“It’ll help a lot. Two of the best, if not the best duo in the country. I don’t know we’re three hours into it still pulling our hair out. Being as close to full strength on offense is what we need.”
On rotating players in the secondary
“We were tired. It’s not an excuse for our lack of play. We were tired and hot. It was really warm down there. Tried to roll through as many guys we could to throw fresh bodies at their offense but they did a good job keeping the tempo high. I was pleased with the two’s that got in and gave us some serviceable work to rest our starters as best we could.”