The Texas Longhorns face significant questions at the quarterback positions heading into Friday’s regular-season finale against the Kansas State Wildcats in Austin with even more pressing questions surrounding the position’s future set to surface during the offseason.
On Monday, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said that junior quarterback Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card are both day to day. Thompson aggravated his thumb injury against West Virginia, while Card suffered an ankle injury on a late hit in the fourth quarter.
“Quite frankly, it’s not the ideal scenario,” said Sarkisian. “I would say today, Casey would start the game, just make sure we monitor his health throughout the week. We obviously need to monitor Hudson’s health throughout the week and make sure that they’re physically able to play come Friday and then also that they’re in the right frame of mind to do so. It’s a tough thing to do as a quarterback when you’re not practicing all the time throughout the week to have yourself ready to play, so we’ve got to do a good job on that front. But I would suspect it to be Casey on Friday.”
The third-string quarterback is walk-on Ben Ballard, who recently beat out freshman Charles Wright for a spot on the depth chart.
Even before Thompson aggravated his thumb injury, he struggled mightily for the second time in three games, going 4-for-14 passing for 29 yards and an interception. Thompson’s lack of accuracy and three dropped passes contributed significantly to the early offensive struggles for Texas that included four straight three and outs to start the game.
Card turned in one of his better performances since the season opener he started against Louisiana, finishing 10-of-16 passing for 123 yards and an impressive 52-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy, arguably the best throw of his young Texas career.
In assessing the season overall, it’s clear that neither quarterback has played well enough to stake a claim to the starting job next season.
Once the Kansas State game ends, Sarkisian’s focus at the position will turn to recruiting both players to stay, as well as trying to wrap up the 2022 recruiting class — Texas holds a commitment from California standout Maalik Murphy and hosted USC commit Devin Brown for the Kansas game. The nation’s No. 5 quarterback, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Brown is a top-60 player nationally.
“Clearly the situation we’re in right now, we don’t have the depth at that position that’s needed moving forward, which is tough to do in this age of college football because it’s easy to leave and every guy wants to play, but there’s only one ball, there’s only one quarterback,” said Sarkisian.
Regardless of whether Sarkisian is able to convince Brown to join the class, Texas will open up the competition at the quarterback position throughout the offseason.
“We’re gonna tear this thing all the way down and we’re gonna start back at square one, come winter conditioning and then into spring ball,” said Sarkisian.
If one or both of Thompson and Card return, the focus for them will be on retention as Sarkisian tries to help the entire position group understand the “whys” of his offense.
“Why we’re doing this, why we’re running that play, why we’re in this formation, and rather than just running the play, really dig down to the whys and hopefully, with a year of experience, we can get to that point,” said Sarkisian.
Achieving that progress may help address the biggest problem at quarterback during Sarkisian’s first season on the Forty Acres — the overall struggles and, specifically, the variability in play from week to week.
“Ultimately, across the board we need to play better and more consistently at that position if we want to be the team that we think we’re capable of being next fall,” said Sarkisian.