Steve Sarkisian opens the Texas QB off-season competition

For the second year in a row, the Texas Longhorns will hold an open quarterback competition during the offseason, head coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday, following recent struggles by Redshirt freshman starter Quinn Ewers that led to Redshirt sophomore backup Hudson Card a got a new chance.

“I think competition is healthy for all of us,” said Sarkisian. “I think anointing for the future probably wouldn’t be fair to the other guys in that room. And hey, Quinn has been making really good progress. I know there are opportunities that he would probably like to have back all year. I think Hudson has really improved. I thought he was very valuable to us at the beginning of the season when we needed him. I think Maalik Murphy is another guy who has a lot of advantages that I’ve seen develop in him.

Sarkisian views the league at quarterback as comparable to any other position and as part of his approach to recruiting, that same message remains once players arrive at the Forty Acres.

“So like every year we go into the off season and wipe the slate clean and let these guys compete and fight and see what it looks like because that’s what makes us better and ultimately if other guys work on their craft it should motivate us to want to keep improving our game,” said Sarkisian.

“And that wouldn’t be any different than any other position – we have to give everyone that opportunity or we don’t live by the idea of ​​being a development program and if you don’t give guys a chance to develop then show what they’re up to be able then I speak from both sides of my mouth and that’s not right I always try to be open and honest with our guys and that’s why competition is at the forefront of our program to go along with the development and so that position is not different.

While Sarkisian may make the same statement for every off-season, it sends several clear messages this season – that Ewers hasn’t done enough to solidify his place as a starter, that Card will have another chance to compete if he stays in Texas, and that the No. 1 recruit in the 2023, New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman’s Arch Manning, will have a chance to challenge for the starting role when he enlists, which will reportedly happen in January.

The first point is perhaps the most important in light of the ideal plan for the quarterback position that became apparent with Manning’s decision to commit to the Longhorns despite Ewers’ addition from the transfer portal nearly a year ago – Ewers is not currently lying on track to leave for the NFL after the 2023 season, unable to maintain the level of play, he flashed in the first quarter against Alabama for his shoulder injury and then on his Cotton Bowl return as he dominated Oklahoma.

After a solid performance in the narrow win over Iowa State in which Ewers threw three touchdown passes and completed 65.4 percent of his passes, he has fallen back into inefficient play even when the weather was not a factor, as in the loss to Oklahoma State and beats Kansas State and Kansas.

On a windy day in Stillwater, Ewers completed only 38.8 percent of his passes and threw three costly interceptions. In the Manhattan win, Ewers managed to throw two touchdown passes and avoid interceptions, but only averaged 6.4 yards per completion. As TCU came aggressively downhill at linebacker and safety to stop the Texas running game, Ewers was unable to make the Horned Frogs pay by not completing a single pass over the top, ultimately making 17 of 39 passes (43.6 percent) for 171 yards. (4.4 yards per attempt) and an interception.

So it was not surprising that Sarkisian put Ewers into full game management mode against Kansas, running the ball 57 times for 427 yards and six touchdowns, while Ewers attempted just 21 passes, 12 for 107 yards and a touchdown.

So since the Oklahoma game, Ewers has gone 83 of 166 passes (50 percent) for 966 yards (5.8 yards per attempt) with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Overall, his passer score of 128.24 is nearly 30 points behind Card and would rank eighth in the Big 12 of qualifying passers, only ahead of West Virginia’s JT Daniels.

The struggles forced Ewers to admit that he has become lazy with his footwork, including how he moves in the pocket, setting up an important offseason where he needs to fine-tune the basics of his delivery, emphasize moving more purposefully in the pocket, his accuracy on deep balls, and develop better study and preparation habits.

Meanwhile, Ewers’ recent struggles never saw Sarkisian make a change in favor of Card, who was efficient in the nearly four games he played after Ewers was injured, shooting 69.4 percent of his passes at 8.6 yards per attempt completed with six interceptions and one interception. Card has spoken out that he wants to graduate from Texas, a feat he will achieve in December, but after that it may be hard to stop him from exploring other options in the NCAA transfer portal — teams rarely carry five quarterbacks on scholarship in the preseason camp and Card played well enough to land Power Five opportunities.

A top-200 contender in the class of 2022, Murphy’s development was limited first by the ankle injury he sustained at the end of his high school career and then by an undisclosed injury early in the season. Sarkisian has expressed satisfaction with Murphy’s progress, but his true development trajectory is difficult to gauge at this point.

Redshirt freshman Charles Wright, the addition to the 2021 recruiting class when Jalen Milroe was fired, is the least likely quarterback with a scholarship to legitimately compete for the starting job, though he wasn’t far from landing that role against UTSA when Ewers injured his shoulder and Card injured his ankle.

That leaves Manning, who seemed ready to don a red shirt in 2023 when he committed, but could now play a bigger role in the quarterback league if he enrolls early and acclimatizes quickly to the huge increase in league level after an impressively higher season remaining. ongoing.

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