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Joey Kaufman | Orange County Register | September 13, 2017

Tom Herman's Longhorns bring surging offense to face No. 4 USC

  Freshman Sam Ehlinger led Texas to a home win vs. San Jose State.

Tom Herman arrived at Texas with much fanfare.

Herman, the former Houston coach and Ohio State offensive coordinator, replaced Charlie Strong last November following three consecutive seasons in which the Longhorns finished below .500.

The early returns?

Texas, which visits USC at the Coliseum on Saturday, split its first two home games but has shown little trouble on offense.

"I think Tom is one of the most brilliant offensive minds in college football," USC coach Clay Helton said. "He's done it at Ohio State, he's done at Houston, he's going to do it at Texas."

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The Longhorns have averaged 48 points per game through the first two weeks, ranking 12th in the FBS, and averaged 548 yards per game, 15th in the FBS, despite instability at quarterback.

Freshman Sam Ehlinger started in last Saturday's win over San Jose State, while sophomore Shane Buechele, who started in the season opener, was out with a sore shoulder. Herman has not revealed which passer will be behind center against the Trojans. Buechele, who also started last season, is not guaranteed to start even if healthy, Herman said.

Herman's reputation as a play-caller took off in 2014 when he helped Ohio State win the first College Football Playoff with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones starting the final three games. Herman, then the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator, took over at Houston after the season.

While at Houston, the Cougars ranked 41th in the FBS in total offense in 2016 and 20th in 2015. They were 22-4 overall under his watch.

Helton said Herman provides a "tremendous amount of trouble" because of his teams' running game and run-pass options used by quarterbacks.

Texas rushed for 406 yards against San Jose State after it was held to 98 yards in week one against Maryland.

College football: No. 6 USC defeats No. 14 Stanford, 42-24

"You could see they brought a physical mentality to the game," Helton said.

Another reason the Trojans might want to keep an eye on their unranked foe.

Last season, Herman guided Houston to a pair of high-profile upsets, defeating third-ranked Oklahoma in the season opener and fifth-ranked Louisville in late November.


Sam Darnold, the Trojans' quarterback, was named the Pac-12's offensive player of the week after he completed 21 of 26 passes for 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions against Stanford.

Darnold's completion percentage, of 81 percent, was a career best.

"You could tell he had his jaw set right," Helton said. "He was coming in there to win that game, and he had a mental focus that was truly special."

Since a loss at Utah in his first career start, Darnold has directed USC to wins over four ranked teams during its current 11-game winning streak.


USC's road opener at Cal on Sept. 23 will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, it was announced Monday. The Trojans visit Washington State on a Friday night six days later. ... Helton said USC was a "little handsy" against Stanford. The Trojans were penalized eight times for 90 yards.

This article is written by Joey Kaufman from Orange County Register and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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