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Inside the Numbers: The Longhorns’ offense has found another gear

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The Longhorns are moving the ball better than they ever have under Tim Beck and Tom Herman.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Texas v Rice Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A concern for the Texas Longhorns heading into the Week 3 matchup against the Rice Owls was if the combination of a letdown from the LSU Tigers loss and the looming matchup against the Oklahoma State Cowboys would factor into their focus.

The Longhorns quickly answered that it would not be and rolled to a 38-0 lead before pulling most of the first-team in the waning minutes of the third quarter. The Texas offense picked up where it left off against LSU, with quarterback Sam Ehlinger building his resume as one of the top quarterbacks in the country.

Texas Offense: 509 total yards on 70 plays (7.27 yards per play)

Coming into the season, most knew that the offense would be a strength for the Longhorns, but they have been nothing short of spectacular in the last two games.

Texas eclipsed the 500-yard for the second time this season, something that had happened just three times in the previous under Tom Herman. The performance against Rice also marks the fifth time since 2009 that Texas has turned in consecutive 500-yard performances. Texas did it in three-straight times in 2016, in 2011 against the Kansas Jayhawks and Texas Tech Red Raiders, and Colt McCoy’s 2009 Longhorns did it in the first two games, as well as the final two games of the regular season.

What is even more impressive about Texas’ performance against Rice is just how efficient they were in the performance, reaching 509 yards on just 70 plays. The 7.27 yards per play marks the highest yards-per-play mark under Herman and just the second time Texas has gone over seven yards per play since 2017.

It’s perhaps even more impressive that Texas was managing a huge 7.88 yards per play in the third quarter when they pulled the offensive starters.

Sam Ehlinger: 23-27, 279 yards, 3 TD. 5 rush 27 yards.

A huge part of Texas’ success on offense is the development of quarterback Sam Ehlinger as a passer, as he transforms from simply one of the nation’s top player-makers to an elite quarterback.

Through three games, Ehlinger is responsible for 1,077 total yards, passing Colt McCoy for the best start in school history, while his 11 touchdowns simply ties McCoy for the most in the first three games of a season.

But Ehlinger isn’t simply putting up big numbers for Texas; he’s also taking care of the ball better than nearly anyone in the country. He is one of just three quarterbacks in the country who has passed for 10 or more touchdowns without an interception, alongside Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama and Justin Herbert from Oregon. In fact, Ehlinger has attempted 139 consecutive passes without an interception, dating back to the Sugar Bowl win over the Georgia Bulldogs, giving him two of the three longest steaks in school history

Cameron Dicker: 2-2 FG (57-yard field goal)

A week ago, eyebrows raised as Dicker trotted onto the field for a 58-yard field goal. A week later against Rice the sophomore drilled a 57-yarder and proved himself to be a legitimate offensive weapon for Texas.

Dicker’s 57-yarder makes him one of just 14 players in the history of the program with multiple field goals longer than 50 yards. His 57-yarder is a distance that just two others have managed to hit in Texas history.

Jeff Ward managed to hit from 57 in 1985, the last time a player made a field goal from that distance, while legendary kicker Russell Erxleben managed 57 yards and longer eight times.

The Longhorns will need to be at the top of their game as they open conference play against the high-powered Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys boast the No. 12 offense in the country, averaging 547 yards per game, including an incredible 285.3 yards on the ground.