After the most well-timed bye week of all time, No. 6 Texas is back on the practice field to prepare for a trip to Oklahoma State on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger left the team’s previous outing, a 23-17 win over Baylor, during the first drive with what was later diagnosed as a Grade 1 AC sprain in his throwing shoulder.
Ehlinger began throwing again over the weekend, and Texas head coach Tom Herman on Monday outlined the club’s plan to work its starting quarterback back into the lineup.
“I think he’s scheduled to do 25 or 30 (throws) with a regular football today,” Herman said. “He was out there at practice yesterday, doing everything in the run game, all the handoffs and run game checks and reads. Being very cautious with how we accelerate his throwing. There’s a protocol, if you will, for overhead throwers with AC sprains that we want to make sure we adhere to as aggressively as possible while making sure we don’t have any major setbacks that could be lingering.”
Texas does not practice on Mondays, so any real update as to Ehlinger’s availability for Saturday will have to wait until Tuesday. Ehlinger will throw 25 full-padded throws on Tuesday with the aim of “ratcheting” it up to 50 later in the week, Herman said. A normal practice day calls for 75 to 80 throws.
“Barring any setbacks from (a) pain standpoint or if we see something mechanically that’s just not right, we’ve got to make some decisions,” Herman said. “Probably won’t know anything as far as game status until Thursday, I would imagine.”
Herman said if Ehlinger feels healthy, he will start.
If Ehlinger does not start, Texas will go with backup Shane Buechele. A junior, Buechele is among the most experienced backups in the country. He started all 12 games as a true freshman in 2016 and threw for 1,405 yards and seven touchdowns in on-again/off-again duty last season. Against Baylor, his only action thus far this season, Buechele completed 20-of-34 throws for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
In six games plus one drive, Ehlinger is completing 65.7 percent of his throws for 1,534 yards (7.4 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. His ongoing streak of 168 passes without an interception is a school record. Crucially, Ehlinger has also run 76 times for 230 yards and six touchdowns, including 72 yards and three scores against No. 8 Oklahoma on Oct. 6. Herman said Ehlinger’s health and willingness to be a factor in the run game will be a data point in Texas’s decision this week.