Ehlinger Says Horns Down No Motivation: Texas Quotes
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is perhaps more elusive off the field than on.
Following a home loss to West Virginia last year, Ehlinger expressed his displeasure with several Mountaineers who flashed “Horns Down” signs.
“I remember every single team/player that disrespects the rich tradition of the University of Texas by putting Horns down,” Ehlinger wrote in a tweet. “Do not think it will be forgotten in the future.”
Ehlinger eventually deleted the tweet, and it didn’t seem to ring any bells with him after leading the No. 11 Longhorns to a 42-31 win over WVU at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday.
The home crowd did its best with “Horns Down” gestures throughout the game but the jeers could not overcome a four-interception performance by WVU quarterback Austin Kendall, an uninspired running game and two missed field goals as Texas recroded a 42-31 win.
For his part, Ehlinger accounted for four of the Longhorns’ touchdowns, throwing for two and rushing for two as he finished 18-of-33 passing for 211 yards and added 45 yards rushing on five carries. His 13-yard scamper with 3:28 left in the second quarter gave the Horns a 21-14 halftime lead that they never relinquished.
But getting to flash the “Horns Up” was not his inspiration.
“I don’t think any of it was motivation, honestly,” he said. “We’re just trying to be the best that we can be.”
In fact, after the scoring run, he showed a “Guns Up” signal close to Texas Tech’s celebration, not Texas’ had sig.
Coach Tom Herman further deflected any bad blood between the programs, telling reporters he didn’t consider the Mountaineers a rival. But give it about 50 years, as the teams have only been meeting annually since WVU became a member of the Big 12 in 2012.
“I define rivals a little bit differently,” he said, “they’ve got to have some semblance of history to it. When you play somebody 60-70 times, to me, that’s a rivalry.
“The team we play next week, that’s a rivalry, but that doesn’t mean we play any less hard against West Virginia or any other team in this conference.”
Herman is referring to Texas’ annual clash with Oklahoma, also know as the Red River Rivalry, which takes place Oct. 19.
But Herman said he and his team were so engrossed in preparing for WVU that he had to be reminded that the Sooners were next on the schedule after the Mountaineers.
It’s part of what Herman calls a “1-0 culture” that he has brought to his program. His players have apparently bought in.
“Our mindset is always to go 1-0 and focus on the task at hand don’t look behind and don’t look forward,” Ehlinger said.
Texas started slowly Saturday, twice trailing by a touchdown in the first half.
WVU got on the board first on a 44-yard bomb from Kendall to Sam James on its first drive of the game.
Ayodele Adeoye snared Texas’ first pick of the day and two plays later, Ehlinger connected with Malcolm Epps on a 22-yard TD pass to tie the score with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers took their last lead with 14:12 left in the half when Kendall’s 44-yard pass to T.J. Simmons triggered a five-play 60-yard drive that ended with Kendall’s 1-yard touchdown run.
The Longhorns tied the game on Ehlinger’s 13-yard toss to John Burt and took the lead on Ehlinger’s 13-yard run.
“We didn’t run the ball very well in the first half but we ran a lot of plays,” Herman said. “It felt like we could wear them down in the run game a little bit. That was a very complex defensive scheme that took us awhile to get used to. Obviously, with two weeks to prepare, there were a lot of different things.”
Texas Head Coach Tom Herman Quotes
“That was a heck of a college football game. We knew this was going to be a really tough environment. I want to give hats off to the West
Virginia team, the organization, the fans. It was a hell of an atmosphere to play college football, and they played their tails off. Coach (Neal)
Brown has something really good going there. I thought we held the team to under 100 yards rushing and got four turnovers. We played great defense in the second half when the offense kind of sputtered around in those first couple drives, but we had the lead at halftime and never gave it up. I thought our guys responded well to some early adversity. (We had) a bit of a slow start.
(I have) an injury update. (Junior defensive back) Chris Brown had a pretty significant thigh contusion. He didn’t return, but in my experience,I’m not a doctor, but I think those things heal pretty quickly. (Sophomore defensive back) BJ (Foster) had a stinger, he returned. (Sophomore running back) Keaontay Ingram had a stinger, he returned, but we were pretty cautious with him. (Sophomore tight end) Reese Leitao had a stinger, he returned. Then, (junior tight end) Cade Brewer had a helmet-to-helmet deal, and we’re going to evaluate him more tomorrow.
On the team’s performance in the fourth quarter
We didn’t run the ball very well in the first half, but we ran a lot of plays. I think we ran 41 plays, or something like that, in the first half. It felt like we could wear them down in the run game a little bit. That was a very complex defensive scheme that took us awhile to get used to.
Obviously, with two weeks to prepare, there were a lot of different things. I thought our offensive line adjusted well, as did the offensive staff
in terms of what we kind of started majoring in. I felt like our training and conditioning kind of took over in the fourth quarter. We were
playing really fast and really hard in a game that was very hard-fought. I credit our strength staff and really the leaders on the team for
picking it up when we needed to.
On the turnovers the team was able to force
Like you said, you never want to give up 463 yards and 367 in the air, but when you have an 18-point lead at one point, you make them one-
dimensional. We were doing a great job against the run. Obviously, we have to figure out how to do both, but I thought the turnovers were
great. We were flying to the football. (Junior defensive back) Chris Brown went out early, which was certainly not very advantageous in the
back end. I thought that the troops rallied well, at least from my vantage point. I thought the corners played pretty well. We have to sure up
some issues in our zone coverage, but I thought for the most part, they certainly provided some sparks for the entire team.
On the way the defense is playing in the red zone
Elite. I think we take a lot of pride in that. I think that’s a testament to our 1-0 culture. You never want them to get down there, but good
offenses, especially in the Big 12, are going to get down there. We have to bow our backs and hold them to a field goal attempt. They missed
two and made one. Those are huge, especially after the turnover. That could have been a huge momentum swing if we’d let them score a
touchdown, but we held them to a field goal. That was a really important stop in the game.