Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson has been on the Forty Acres since January 2018.
Before the second half of the 2020 Alamo Bowl, he’d hardly done so much as take a meaningful snap, and those he’s since taken against Louisiana and Arkansas weren’t exactly the most meaningful either, beyond development and gaining in-game experience.
But the fact remains that in those opportunities, however meaningful you consider them to be, Thompson has made the absolute most of them.
Since stepping in for Sam Ehlinger to begin the second half of the Alamo Bowl, Thompson has taken the field for 10 drives. Nine of those appearances ended with points:
Save for the lone punt against Louisiana, which ended with consecutive runs as Texas tried to kill clock late in the fourth quarter, Thompson’s 10 drives in the past three games have produced 55 points.
“The results are the results,” Steve Sarkisian said of Thompson on Thursday. “When he’s played, the ball’s moved down the field and we’ve scored points.”
The results weren’t purely by chance, either.
Against Colorado, Thompson’s first pitch was a pinpoint pitch to Joshua Moore on a slant for six points.
Casey Thompson at the helm.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) December 30, 2020
Casey Thompson to Joshua Moore.
Joshua Moore with the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/dAj0mVt29X
Soon thereafter, maybe his most impressive play of the game came on third down, as he shifted in the pocket to elude pressure and delivered a perfect toss to Cade Brewer to move the chains. Three plays later, he found Moore on another deep post, this time from 25 yards out.
If you ever get the chance to sack Casey, at least he makes you earn it. The composure & athleticism >>> pic.twitter.com/SjcVUxELai— David Allen (@Doc_Texas) September 14, 2021
Thompson completed 4-of-5 attempts, with the last two each going for touchdowns — first, a 23-yard throwback screen to Bijan Robinson, and more notably, a 73-yard bomb to Kelvontay Dixon to cap a sensational showing in less than a full half.
Five drives. Five scores for 31 points. 187 total yards.
The next time out, Thompson was still a backup, only this time to redshirt freshman Hudson Card as Texas kicked off the 2021 season against Louisiana. Similar situation, similar efficient productivity, as led the Longhorns to 10 points on his first two drives, which featured a flash of his elusiveness and composure in the pocket, evading pressure and keeping his eyes downfield to deliver a 16-yard strike to Jordan Whittington on 3rd and 9.
You have to really find luck sacking Casey, he’s that elusive. Eyes down field, extending the play. Throw away the practice reports pic.twitter.com/i1G4K04Xbf— David Allen (@Doc_Texas) September 12, 2021
Three plays later, he found Whittington on a bubble screen, and Whittington did the rest, taking it 14 yards to the end zone.
Three drives. Two scores for 10 points.
His next time out, Thompson again saw his first action when the game was effectively decided, though this time around, it was with Texas on the unfortunate end of a blowout, trailing Arkansas 33-7. Prior to this point, Texas’ 10 drives produced a mere 114 total yards — good, well, bad for just 11.4 yards per drive — and a single touchdown that came courtesy of a short field following a BJ Foster interception.
Thompson’s first drive? 10 plays, 75 yards, and he capped Texas’ best drive of the evening with a five-yard rush on 1st and Goal.
Casey Thompson takes it himself for the TD pic.twitter.com/pn3SyKlY8l— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) September 12, 2021
On Thompson’s second and final series on the night... well, he likely captured the starting role in those moments.
Faced with a quick 3rd and 4, he stepped into the pocket and delivered a 15-yard strike to an open Whittington. Thompson nearly gained another first down on the next play, scrambling for nine yards when the pocket broke down. After Keilan Robinson was stuffed for a loss, Thompson converted again, connecting with Xavier Worthy for 16 yards on 3rd and 2. Then, again not waiting until it was too late, Thompson tucked and ran to pick up nine more yards on first down. Three plays later, he found Dixon for another 15 yards to place Texas at the goal line.
Three straight rushes with Keilan Robinson from that position failed and when they did Thompson did his best Sam Ehlinger impression and simply willed his way into the end zone, taking on five Razorbacks in the process.
Two drives. Two scores for 14 points. 101 total yards, and more importantly, 150 yards for the Longhorns offense.
However meaningful Thompson’s 10 opportunities throughout his past three games were, he’s undoubtedly made the most of them, completing 82.6 percent of his passes (19/23) and averaging 11.7 yards per attempt, en route to the aforementioned nine scores for 55 points.
“No matter what happens, I’m going to be ready to play, and I’m going to take this thing over when the opportunity presents itself,” Thompson said.
Well, making the most of his limited opportunities have, at long last, opened the door for the opportunity he’s been waiting and preparing for since January 2018 — to lead the Longhorns as QB1.
It’s here, and it’s up to him to make the most of this one, because it will mean a little more.