After a 48-45 win over the Oklahoma Sooners to advance to 5-1 on the season, it’s easy to see that the Texas Longhorns are playing the best football they have in recent memory.
Outside of the late-game letdown against the Sooners on both sides of the ball, the offense is playing at an efficient clip and the defense continues to play at a high level. Trends continue to emerge and give insight into how Texas has managed its most successful start since the 2009 National Championship run.
Sam Ehlinger: 24-35, 314 yards, 2 TDs; 19 rush, 72 yards, 3 TD
This feature is on the verge of becoming the Sam Ehlinger report, but the sophomore quarterback’s performance has not only been integral to the offensive success for the Longhorns, but statistically, he’s putting himself among some of the greatest quarterbacks in school history.
His 314 passing yards against the Sooners give him 1,499 for the season, one yard shy of a 3,000-yard pace for the season. If he ends the next six games with just 200 yards per contest, he would finish with 2,699 yards for the season, good enough to tie for No. 9 on the top seasons of all time at Texas. If he doubles his production from the first half of the season, he’ll sit at No. 7 all time, right behind Vince Young’s season as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
His ability as a rusher has never been in doubt, but was a key to Texas’s success against Oklahoma. His three rushing touchdowns put his name next to Young and Tyrone Swoopes as the only three quarterbacks in school history to rush for three touchdowns in a Big 12 game.
In addition to his numerical production, the sophomore signal caller continues to do an incredible job of taking care of the football. After his two interceptions against Maryland, Ehlinger has thrown 163 consecutive passes without an interception, passing Major Applewhite for the longest streak in school history.
Ehlinger’s performance gives him his 12th 200-yard passing game, again tying him with Young for No. 7 on the school’s all-time list. Starting the season with six straight 200-yard games means he now joins Applewhite, Colt McCoy, and Peter Gardere as the only players with six such games in a row.
He’s also solidified himself as arguably the most prolific Texas quarterback in the history of Red River Showdown — Ehlinger now holds two of the four passing games of 300 or more yards and the top two performances in terms of total offense. Last season, he set the Texas record with 388 total yards and then surpassed that total on Saturday with 394 yards.
Charles Omenihu: Three tackles (two tackles for loss, one sack)
This may seem like a modest statline to highlight, but Omenihu asserting himself as a force in opponent’s backfields is been key to the defensive success in the last two weeks.
Through the first three games of the year, Texas managed just one sack — from defensive back Kris Boyd. Against the USC Trojans, it seemed like the Longhorns played the whole game in their opponent’s backfield and totaled three sacks for 26 yards, putting their four-game total at four sacks for 35 yards. Over the last two games, Texas has five sacks for 39 yards — including three from Omenihu for 23 yards.
But it’s not the fact that he has recorded the sacks, but when Omenihu gets sacks, Texas turns it into points. It was easy to see against Kansas State, as Omenihu’s back-to-back sacks of K-State’s Alex Delton led to a safety, but his havoc against Oklahoma led to points.
His second-quarter sack of Kyler Murray put the Sooners in a 2nd and 20, and on the next play he brought Murray down on a designed run for a loss of one. The Sooners went three and out and Texas got the ball back.
On the ensuing possession, the Longhorns then went eight plays for 75 yards and a touchdown to go up 24-10 on the Sooners.
Texas: +3 Turnover Margin
We’ve already highlighted Ehlinger’s ability to take care of the ball, but the team as a whole has been doing an incredible job holding the football while forcing opponents into turnovers.
In the six contests this year, Texas has forced 10 turnovers, while only turning the ball over five times for a +5 turnover on the season — good enough for No. 18 in the country. From those 10 turnovers, the Longhorns have scored 34 points or 3.4 points per turnover.
Not only that, but the Texas defense has been impressive in their ability to handle the quick-change situations that result from turnovers. Opponents failed to score on any Texas turnover, but specifically Texas has forced two three-and-outs, a turnover on downs, and a blocked field goal for a score on four of the five drives that have followed a Texas turnover.
All of that action happened in the first three games of the season. In its three conference games, Texas has not surrendered the ball to opponents, which is the longest streak of games without turnovers in school history.
With the win over the Sooners, the Longhorns now control their own destiny as the team continues through the final six weeks of the season. If Texas can win out, it will head into a conference championship game for the first time since the 2009 season.