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Denzel Okafor: Texas QB Casey Thompson taking most first-team reps

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The comment from the sixth-year lineman provides the first public insight into how Steve Sarkisian is dividing reps in the quarterback competition.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Texas vs Colorado Austin American Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

With the Orange-White game looming in less than 10 days to mark the end of spring practice for the Texas Longhorns, new head coach Steve Sarkisian has spoken mostly in general terms about the quarterback competition between junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card.

On Thursday, however, sixth-year offensive guard Denzel Okafor provided some of the deepest public insight yet into how Sarkisian and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Kyle Flood are distributing reps in practice, saying that Thompson is taking most of the first-team reps with Card rotating in “every now and then.”

“Both guys know how to throw the ball, have good vision. Casey is more of a dual-threat quarterback, but as of now Casey is getting most of the reps with the ones,” Okafor said.

Sarkisian hasn’t given any indications of when he thinks the quarterback competition will resolve itself with a clear-cut starter — the battle is likely to last into preseason camp and perhaps even into the season itself if the winner in camp happens to struggle between the lines on Saturdays.

But it does suggest that Thompson currently has at least a slight edge. His experience after sitting behind Sam Ehlinger as the No. 2 over the last two seasons and his noted preparation ability that paid off with his strong performance against Colorado in the Alamo Bowl are both advantages that he likely possesses over the younger Card, who is regarded as having better natural passing ability.

Thompson went 8-of-10 passing for 170 yards and four touchdowns against the Buffaloes, including a 73-yard pass to Kelvontay Dixon, after Ehlinger left the game with an injury. Card only attempted three passes as a true freshman.

The note on Thompson having the advantage in running ability is another mildly surprising development, as Card is a strong athlete who excelled at wide receiver during his sophomore season at Lake Travis, ran for 1,359 yards and 20 touchdowns in high school, and was classified as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

There’s also the question of whether that running ability is showing up in scramble situations as Thompson leaves the pocket or whether Sarkisian has backed off his stated dislike for using the quarterback in the run game. In a viral clip from practice that showed a long run by sophomore running back Bijan Robinson, Thompson fakes keeping the ball. Perhaps the fake was merely to keep defenses honest, but it’s possible that he was actually running a zone read.

Whatever the case, it sounds like Thompson currently has the advantage in the competition as the spring-ending scrimmage approaches.