Buechele, who started all 13 games last season as a freshman and the season opener against Maryland, didn’t participate in practice last week and was sidelined against San Jose State after suffering a bruised shoulder against the Terrapins. In his place, freshman Sam Ehlinger orchestrated the offense, completing 15 of 27 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown en route to a 56-0 victory over the Spartans.
Days later, Buechele returned to practice and participated in live reps — albeit in a limited role — for the first time since the Maryland game. Now healthy, whether Buechele will return to his post as the starting gunslinger against USC remains to be seen and Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck is playing his cards close to vest.
“Who knows right now,” Beck said. “We’re just kind of waiting and seeing what happens. We’re plugging away as scheduled and working hard putting together our game plan and practicing. Obviously, as the week goes on we’ll have more information.”
While Buechele’s considerable edge in the experience department and acumen as a far more proven passer make him the more logical starter entering a hostile road meeting against an elite team, Beck did admit that he isn’t uneasy with the idea of playing Ehlinger.
“If I was uneasy I wouldn’t play him,” Beck said. “Probably the biggest strength of that kid is that. Probably the more you tell him he can’t the more he’s going to [try and do].”
Regardless of which direction the staff is going to go at quarterback, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an announcement on a starter delayed until just before kickoff. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Buechele and Ehlinger each see time at quarterback, along with Heard during situational packages.
It seems as if the idea from the Texas side may be to keep USC guessing as long as possible.