Injuries have forced Texas to rotate quarterbacks throughout the season, and it’s given us a chance to get a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Using our advanced stats, let’s take a look at what each quarterback brings to the table for the Longhorns.
Sam Ehlinger is a serious running threat, but Shane Buechele isn’t bad either
Unlike the NCAA’s official stats, we don’t treat sacks as rushing yards, which allows us to get a better idea of just how strong Ehlinger has been in the run game.
Despite only playing in five games, Ehlinger leads the Longhorns in rushing yards with 361 (4.9 per attempt), narrowly edging out Chris Warren for the team lead. He’s also been tough to bring down, forcing 12 missed tackles—second only to Warren’s 19.
Texas lists Ehlinger 25 pounds heavier than Buechele, making him better suited to take the pounding of a running quarterback. But Buchele has held his own as a runner as well.
On 30 carries, Buechele has picked up 161 yards, which gives him a team-best 5.4 yards per rush.
Buechele is the better passer
Ehlinger holds the edge in the running game, but Buechele is clearly the better passer at this stage of his career.
On passes thrown at least five yards downfield, Buechele is completing 61 percent of his throws. That isn’t necessarily an elite number, but it is an encouraging rate from the true sophomore.
Ehlinger, however, continues to struggle throwing the more complex passes downfield and is completing just 48.7% of his attempts on throws at least five yards downfield. Obviously Ehlinger makes up for that rate, to an extent, with his work on the ground. But in certain scenarios, he will be a liability when Texas needs to throw the ball.
Ehlinger is elusive in the pocket
Ehlinger isn’t just a better runner on designed runs, but he appears to be better avoiding pressure in the pocket.
Buechele has been sacked on 29 percent of dropbacks when he faces pressure, a substantially worse rate than Ehlinger’s 8.7 percent.
When Buechele is able to get off the pass, he handles pressure reasonably well—he has a completion percentage of 47.6 percent, compared to 40 percent for Ehlinger—but it’s difficult to trust him when he’s taking sacks at such a higher rate.