The first week of the college football season was a dark day for the sport in Texas. Three of the most respected historic teams lost as Baylor, Texas, and Texas A&M in spectacular fashion.
Week 2 was better but still left just as many questions as answers.
The Longhorns had the best performance, dominating San Jose State 56-0 at home. The Aggies needed to score the final 10 points of the game to pull away from FCS foe Nicholls State 24-14, and Baylor dropped to 0-2 after a 17-10 loss to UTSA.
For the two of the three teams that won, quarterbacks from Central Texas stepped in and helped lead them back to the win column. By no means can one player turn around an entire season, but sometimes a fresh face is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Baylor should join the Longhorns and Aggies and lean on its Central Texas quarterback, too.
Here’s a game-by-game break down of how each quarterback affected each game:
Texas Longhorns - Sam Ehlinger, 15-of-27 for 222 yards, 1 touchdown
Making his first collegiate start after graduating from Westlake, the true freshman looked fantastic when hew as thrust into the role. Week 1 starter Shane Buchele missed the game due to a bruised shoulder.
The first three passes of his college career were incomplete, but as the Texas offense started finding its rhythm, so to did Ehlinger, completing five of his next six passes.
Texas coach Tom Herman was noncommittal as to who would start on the road against No. 6 USC, and if Buchele has healed by then, I expect it to be him to give the Longhorns a little more experience against a Heisman Trophy contender.
“For that being his first collegiate start he was good,” Herman said. “He was very poised in the pocket. There were times when he wasn’t seeing the coverages well and held onto it too long. At least he made up for it by scrambling around and getting some positive yardage.”
Buchele has made steady progress every day according to Herman, but why mess up what worked?
Let’s be honest, based on what we saw from both USC and Texas over the last two weeks, the Longhorns face an uphill battle when they head to Los Angeles. They’re going to rely on the running game anyway with the big running backs they have so keep Ehlinger under center and let him grow into the role.
Texas A&M Aggies - Jake Hubenak, 12-of-15 for 93 yards
If the Longhorns are going through a youth movement, the Aggies proved on Saturday that experience wins out.
Hubenak, a Georgetown grad, came in during the second half and the Aggies scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to rebound from their opening-season collapse at UCLA.
Kellen Mond started the game and had a good start, completing 10 of his 12 passes for nearly 100 yards and a score. But after the first quarter, he completed just two of nine attempts and was sacked twice, which led to the halftime change.
Hubenak has been around. He walked on at Oklahoma State as a freshman in 2013 and transferred to Binn Junior College in 2014 and threw for more than 4,000 yards and 47 touchdowns, the most in the NJCAA.
Since he came to A&M in 2015, he has made 14 appearances, including the one on Saturday.
“Everything is an ongoing evaluation,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “The head coach and quarterback get way too much credit when we win and we get all the blame when we lose. We get that. There are other people on the field too.”
He’s stable and you know exactly what you’re going to get with him. With conference play just a week away and the Aggies in a perpetual win now mode, there really isn’t time for a freshman that was inconsistent against an FCS opponent to get his feet under him.
Hubenak should be the guy.
Baylor - Charlie Brewer
This is where things get hairy.
The Bears have not started well, losing to Liberty to start the season and falling to UTSA on Saturday.
Senior grad transfer Anu Solomon won the job out of camp over sophomore Zach Smith, but Smith saw time in the loss to the Roadrunners on Saturday. As much as I’d love to see my namesake under center, I’d argue that a further change is in order.
Brewer was one of the most accurate passers in high school football as a senior at Lake Travis, leading the Cavaliers to their sixth state title and completing a whopping 77 percent of his passes in the process.
Head coach Matt Rhule has already shown he’s willing to put freshmen in big situations. Four more true freshmen played in the loss to UTSA, adding to the 10 that saw the field against Liberty to open the season.
It’s going to be a long road back for Baylor and the switch to Brewer would go a long way towards investing in the future of the program.