Player Spotlight: Sam Ehlinger - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Monday, October 9, 2017

Player Spotlight: Sam Ehlinger

Player Spotlight:  Sam Ehlinger
by:  B.R. Battle
Photo: Tim Warner, 2017 Getty Images

It’s official. This Texas team should be led by true freshman, Sam Ehlinger, for the remainder of the season. Whether or not Coach Herman states this in his Monday press conference will be something to watch, but after viewing Ehlinger play this Saturday, it’s apparent that the team responds favorably to him when he’s in the lineup.

In Ehlinger’s third start of the season, he accomplished something that only 2 other Longhorn quarterbacks were able to achieve. He passed for at least 300 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in a single game. Ehlinger’s 387 total yards on Saturday was a jolt of quarterback productivity desperately needed for the Longhorns. No disrespect to Shane Buechele; however, Ehlinger just looks much more comfortable in Tom Herman’s offense. His willingness to run the ball without hesitation is this offense's missing piece. Ehlinger’s ability to extend plays with his legs immensely assisted in his very efficient quarterback play.

Speaking on efficiency, Ehlinger composed an individual success rate (SR) of 57%. With a NCAA average offensive SR of 40%, Ehlinger’s success rate is outstanding, especially considering he is a true freshmen with only 2 starts under his belt prior to this game. In regards to the passing game, he posted a SR of 58%. This high passing efficiency was aided in Ehlinger’s uncanny ability to run the ball, where he compiled 107 yards rushing with a 55% SR. Overall, Ehlinger was in complete control of the game and rarely made huge mistakes, resulting in him consistently keeping his team in a position to be successful.
In regards to his passing efficiency, Ehlinger was highly successful for the bulk of his passing attempts. On first downs, Ehlinger had a 70% success rate, meaning he gained at least 5 yards or more. In fact, Ehlinger averaged 13 yards per completion on his successful first down plays. On 2nd down, Ehlinger posted a success rate of 56%, with an average of 12.3 yards per 2nd down completion. Ehlinger’s 3rd down SR dropped to a slightly below average total of 38%; however, the Longhorns were able to offset this percentage with an 80% SR for 3rd down rushing plays from players not named Sam Ehlinger. That 80% success rate resulted in 2 touchdowns and an additional 2 first downs.

Ehlinger was also highly efficient with his legs throughout the game. On 1st and 2nd downs, he compiled success rates of 63% and 56% respectively. As with his passing 3rd down success rate, Ehlinger was a bit off; however, he only had three 3rd down rushing attempts, with 1 of those 3 attempts being successful, landing him a SR of 33% on 3rd down. That one successful attempt was a crucial 3rd and 3 play, where Ehlinger was able to gain 9 yards for a first down, eventually leading to a Ehlinger passing touchdown 2 plays later to bring the Longhorns within 3 points of Kansas St at 17-14. If the Longhorns do not score on this possession, Kansas St would have seized momentum and possibly taken a large lead into halftime.
Sam Ehlinger might not be the dynamic runners, such as Greg Ward or Braxton Miller, that Coach Herman is used to having in his offense. However, he’s a much tougher runner who is not afraid to dip his shoulder into a defender and let him feel the presence of number 11. His ability to effectively and instinctively run the ball is exactly what this offense has been missing. With the influx of new players along the offensive line, Ehlinger’s ability to improvise and adjust helps the offensive line when plays break down. With Ehlinger manning the quarterback position, the Texas offensive line is not put in a situation to have to block in a traditional passing game offense. Ehlinger’s legs brings about an added dimension to this offense that, not only creates favorable situations for himself, but also aids in the success of all other offensive players on the team. His success has provided the Texas offense to dominate the number of plays performed throughout the game, resulting in Texas having 92 offensive plays, compared to the Wildcat’s 61 offensive plays. Dominating this metric kept the Texas defense fresh, while tiring out the Kansas St defense.

Sam Ehlinger has certainly looked and played the part of a legit Division I quarterback. If he continues to play with this moxie and enthusiasm, Texas will be in contention to have an opportunity to win every remaining game on their schedule. Buckle up and get ready for the Red River Showdown this upcoming Saturday. This should be a good one….2 Austin high school quarterbacks squaring off for the prized Golden Hat.

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