Louisiana Tech Texas Football

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11), shown during last week's 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech, will take aim at LSU's deep and talented group of defensive backs in Saturday night's clash of Top 10 teams in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — Maybe you've heard of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger.

He's the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Heisman candidate who, much like LSU's Joe Burrow, provided stability to his football program's revolving door of quarterbacks and helped bring the school back to national prominence.

He's the player who stood on the post-game stage after a 28-21 victory over Georgia in last year's Sugar Bowl and declared into a stadium microphone that Texas was back.

Well, Saturday's showdown in Austin between No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Texas will be another test of whether or not the Longhorns program is actually back to competing on the national stage.

And on Tuesday afternoon, Ehlinger spoke to a gaggle of reporters on topics that ranged from facing LSU's secondary to his thoughts on Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow.

Below are questions and answers from his interview:

Will you have to run more this week?

“I don’t know.”

How many designed runs did you have last week?

“I said zero post-game (after Louisiana Tech). But there was one.”

Will there be more this week?

“I’m not sure. We’ll see what the coaches have game-planned this week.”

In your two-plus years, I can’t think of another defense that has two potential first-rounders in the secondary like these guys. What have you seen early on, and is it fair to say this is the best secondary you may have gone against yet?

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll see on Saturday. I know that they’re an incredibly talented backfield. They recruit extremely well. And the guys that play for them, they’re always extremely talented. So I’m looking forward to the challenge. I guess we’ll see on Saturday.”

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What would you think if the game plan called for you to throw 50 passes or more in the game Saturday?

“What would I think?”

Yeah. Would you enjoy that?

“I would love that. That’d be a great challenge. We’d have to win in the secondary, and I love throwing the football. So yeah, that would be great.”

The way LSU moves their secondary around—almost position-less—it may kind of resemble what you do. As a quarterback, when you read, how do you approach a secondary that does that?

“Yeah, it’s difficult. You definitely can’t fall asleep back in the pocket, because they’re going to move guys around. Guys will flip sides. Be on the line. Be in the post. You definitely can’t fall asleep, because if you do, they’re going to take advantage of that. You just have to stay focused on—it’s more like birds on a fence as opposed to individual guys and what they’re traditionally playing. Understanding where they’re at on a specific play as opposed to their position on the roster.”

In their pass rush, it seems like they’re going to come after you. As a guy who’s mobile, how do you approach a defense that’s gonna come after you like that?

“Continue to trust the guys up front. Obviously, they have incredible players, incredible pass rushers. Great schemes. An incredible defensive coordinator. So, it’s going to be a challenge, and we love that. So I guess we’re going to have to come out and play extremely well in order to stop that and play well.”

Dave Aranda was Tom Herman’s roommate in college. Is he giving the inside scoop on what his good buddy, what his tendencies are?

“No, I’ll have to ask. I’ll have to ask him.”

You mentioned this is something you live for. How do you get a sense of the magnitude? Is it something you wake up and feel? How do you, in a week like this, how does it manifest for you?

“I would say just understanding the talent that you’re going against and understanding the program and the prestige of their program. When you play prestigious programs like LSU, like USC, Oklahoma—it’s fun. You grow up watching those schools, and you grow up knowing how good they are. So just to understand that you’re playing against that program adds some motivation in itself.”

As a quarterback, facing a team that proclaims itself as 'DBU,' is that meaningful to you?

“I wouldn’t say the label means anything. Obviously, they have incredible DBs. So it’s going to be a challenge for sure. We know that much. But I wouldn’t say necessarily the DBU thing matters.”

Have you met Joe Burrow?

“I haven’t, no.”

Do you even look at his tape just out of curiosity?

“Uh, I remember watching him a little bit last year. Never really turned on his tape. I know his story coming from Ohio State. And I’ve heard tremendous things about him. Extremely hard worker and everything that I’ve seen. He loves the game of football, and being able to watch him last year, he did a great job of coming into a new program and doing a great job. So much respect to him.”

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.