Texas-USC preview: Ehlinger, Longhorns hope to flip script in rematch with No. 22 Trojans

By Will Leverett

In what will likely be a season-defining game for Texas football, Tom Herman’s Longhorns will face their toughest test yet at home against No. 22 USC.

The Trojans youthful squad, led by freshman quarterback JT Daniels, looked promising after a week 1 victory over UNLV. However, they struggled against No. 10 Stanford a week ago, losing 17-3 to Bryce Love and the Cardinal.

Here are three things the Longhorns will need to do in order to pick up the win on Saturday night.

Texas vs. USC details

Date: Sept. 15, 2018

Location: Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin

What channel is Texas vs. USC on?

Texas vs. USC will be broadcast on FOX. It can also be streamed live on Fox Sports Go.

How can I buy tickets to Texas vs. USC?

Click here to buy tickets to the Texas vs. USC game at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin.

Texas vs. USC preview

Bring the heat on JT Daniels

USC’s freshman phenom at quarterback made the most of his first start in week 1, throwing for 282 yards and a touchdown. But in week 2, Stanford brought him back down to earth.

Daniels completed just 47 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions in the final three minutes as he was harassed the entire night by the Cardinal front seven. After relentlessly being pressured on deep passing plays, Daniels rarely threw the ball downfield successfully, primarily relying on quick routes within five yards of the line of scrimmage. When he did drop back and remain in the pocket, the Stanford defense was all over, sacking him four times and forcing him to make several poor throws into traffic.

Texas has only recorded one sack in its first two games. The Longhorns will need to find ways to dial up some pressure and bring Daniels out of his comfort zone in front of 100,000 raucous fans at Darrell K. Royal Stadium.

Have faith in Sam Ehlinger

It’s not time to make the quarterback switch for junior Shane Buechele. It’s time for the coaching staff to allow Ehlinger to utilize his strengths to exploit a thin defense.

After a multitude of injuries in the preseason and week 1, USC only has three safeties in their rotation manning the defensive backfield. Tom Herman and the coaching staff has repeatedly praised Ehlinger’s improved ability to stand in the pocket and make passes downfield. Why not unleash it against this banged up secondary?

Ehlinger has had his best (and worst) moments when he’s able to drop back, go through his progressions and be creative with the football down the field. But when playing against a top-tier opponent like USC, it’s a risk they need to take. The Longhorns have enough playmaking skill position athletes that they will need to stop restricting the offense with conservative play calling in order to let Ehlinger do what he does best.

Four quarters of football

As it stands currently, Texas has played about 3.5 decent quarters of football through two games. If they want Tom Herman’s first win over a ranked opponent as a Longhorn, then they must play a complete game of football.

The Longhorn offense has yet to score on consecutive possessions this year, as they have been unable to establish a true rhythm with play calling and execution. For a good portion of scoring drives, it has relied on chunk plays for much of the yardage.

While Ehlinger put together some nice drives and found his stride throwing the ball against Tulsa, the offense’s inability to put away the game in the second half was worrisome. For this Longhorn team to pull off the victory, consistency will be key, especially late in the game.

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