The Texas Longhorns put up a valiant effort, but came up short as they fell to the USC Trojans 27-24 in a thrilling double-overtime game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliesum Saturday night. The game lived up to the hype in many ways and we learned more about the Longhorns on a perfect night in Southern California.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday night’s game.
Little Mistakes Cost Texas Big
Reggie Hemphill-Mapps fielding the punt at the 1-yard line. Two fumbled snaps. Ill-timed penalties. As hard as the Longhorns played and as clutch as they were late, there were several what-if moments that could have changed the tide of the game.
Anytime you head on the road to play a significant favorite, the onus is on the underdog to make fewer mistakes to come out on top. At the end of the day, Ehlinger and the Longhorns weren’t as clean when it really mattered.
Defense Puts Up Strong Effort
Simply put, the biggest reason the Longhorns were in this game in the first place was because of the defense. Up front, they made life difficult for Ronald Jones and the USC running game that never really got going. They also came up with one of the biggest plays late in the first half thanks to a pick-six from DeShon Elliott, who had a monster game.
Tip of the hat to Malik Jefferson and Holton Hill for putting up strong individual efforts as well. Even when they looked gassed towards the end, the Longhorns effort on the defensive side of the ball was strong. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando had a great game plan on the night and he should be encouraged by what he saw tonight.
Breakout game for Collin Johnson
If you’re looking for one breakout star from this Texas-USC game not named Sam Ehlinger, most people would suggest the 6-6 receiver from San Jose, California. Johnson came up with several huge catches on the night and showed what a valuable target he can be.
The sophomore finished with seven catches for 191 yards and was a constant mismatch all night for the USC secondary. If he can improve his consistency and build off what he did tonight at the L.A. Coliseum, the future looks very bright.
Sam Ehlinger Steps Up
For most of the game, Sam Ehlinger looked like a true freshman making his first career start on the road. But, in the fourth quarter and in the first overtime, whenever he needed to make a play, the former Austin Westlake star did exactly that. First, he found Armanti Foreman for what looked to be the go-ahead touchdown and then later found Cade Brewer for a score in the first overtime.
Unfortunately, Ehlinger had a rough finish to his night after being stripped of the football near the goal line in the second overtime that would eventually be capped off by the Casey McGrath game winner for USC. He’ll have a lot to learn but he certainly made a compelling case to be the starter moving forward depending on the health of Shane Buechele.
Bonus Down: Moving Forward
Following Saturday night’s game, head coach Tom Herman told reporters that he doesn’t count moral victories but felt his team has come a long way.
Tom Herman: "There are no moral victories in college football… but to be in a position to win the game says a lot at how much we've grown"
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 17, 2017
In a lot of respects, you can make the argument that they have. This was a game that many people thought the Longhorns had no chance to win and yet pushed a Top-5 team down to the wire.
It wasn’t a win, but the Longhorns look to have some hope moving forward.
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