Georgia Football

Sam Ehlinger To Bring A Level of Physicality Georgia Hasn't Seen in a Quarterback

December 30, 2018
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NEW ORLEANS - Sam Ehlinger had the look of an eventual Division-I quarterback in his sophomore year of high school in Austin, Texas.

 

Good size, great arm, mobile, accurate. The biggest issue that he had at the time was his refusal to slide. If he had the ball, the play was not ending until he was thrown to the ground. It was effective against high school competition. But it seemed like something that would fade as he moved up to the Big 12.

 

It’s been four years, dozens of games and hundreds of carries since then. Nothing has changed.

 

“It’s just something I can’t really control when I’m inside the white lines,” Ehlinger said. “It’s just the competitor in me, and it’s always been that way.”

 

When you watch Texas and Ehlinger play and run the football, it’s—and no Georgia fan wants to hear this—reminicent of Tim Tebow. Now, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner is a different type of animal. But the downhill, tough-nosed, between-the-tackles running from Ehlinger is eerily familiar to the old Florida quarterback.

 

But the production from that style gets results. Ehlinger has 13 touchdowns on the ground this season - that’s ten more than any of his teammates. When Texas is in a short-yardage situation, it’s almost a guarantee that Ehlinger is going to come at you like a bowling ball.

 

His style comes with a harder-to-see benefit as well: it’s an adrenaline shot for the Horns. When his teammates see him try to run over a defender it pumps them up and gives them a little extra motivation.

 

“As an offensive lineman, every single play you have to be really physical,” said Texas right guard Elijah Rodriguez. “Then you have your quarterback who comes behind you and is willing to do the exact same thing. Not only does it make you want to strain harder, but it also makes us feel a sense of pride in our offensive unity”

 

Georgia has taken note of the style. To the Dawgs - it’s a challenge - a testament to their physicality. Most quarterbacks they go against slide or step out of bounds before contact. Ehlinger isn’t going to give them that break, which is something Georgia knows and welcomes.

 

“I’m good with it. I’m not shying away from any contact. Salute to him,” Jonathan Ledbetter said. “But we’re going fight out there. We’re going to be some dogs, and if he wants to run the ball then we’re going to stop the run.”

 

Georgia sees a certain “hunger”, Ledbetter called it, in Ehlinger. It’s an element that makes the game tougher for the defense, but it’s a quality that they feel they must tip their hats to.

 

“I love that,” Ledbetter said. “Quarterbacks who are not afraid to go get something… He’s a competitor, and you don’t want to be in a game not playing against a competitor. It’s just not fun.”

 

Tae Crowder is in the same boat. He’s hoping that Ehlinger won’t change much up in this game.

 

“I want him to stay inbounds,” Crowder said with a smile. “We all like contact, and we all like being physical.”

 

As a fellow quarterback, it’s almost a little inspirational to Jake Fromm. He sees the bruteness that Ehlinger runs with and fancies the idea that maybe he’s capable of that, too. Although Fromm doesn’t let his mind drift far from the situation.

 

“I would love to think that I can do it, too,” Fromm said. “But in our conference, doing that for 12 games is probably not the best thing to do.”

 

Chances are that Fromm won’t be trucking any guys on New Year’s Day. Ehlinger, well that’s different. Georgia will have to focus on its main defensive goal of stopping the run. The only thing is, most big-bodied backs the Bulldogs have faced can’t throw the ball, too.

 
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