It’s been an up-and-down season for freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers. Are we being too critical of him?
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - It’s fair to criticize but you also have to take into account that he’s played seven games, coming off a shoulder injury, and is playing with an equally young offensive line and receiving core. But his footwork needs to be cleaned up, not overhauled and needs to get some help from his wideouts and his play-caller. How many times do you think Ewers has started off a game 0-for-7? Probably never. That has to derail his confidence just a bit. You face the 118th and 68th passing defenses to end the season…it would be nice to see some signs of life.
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - Expectations were understandably high for a kid who had one of the highest recruiting ratings ever. With that said, he has people worried about how hard he has hit the freshman wall at this point in the season and how off he has been over the past few games. We expected a good amount of rust to have to be shaken off of Ewers this year and for him to have to be acclimated to Steve Sarkisian’s system, but the flashes he showed early on in the season had everyone thinking he was on his way to meeting the expectations ahead of schedule.
Overall, I think some of the criticism may be a little harsh because I think some fans are forgetting where exactly he is in his development, but I share the concern most have when I am not seeing even a flicker of the lightbulb at times when he is throwing the ball. Ewers is going to have to be able to function as a passer in these next two games and if he can’t it could cost Texas a chance to show some real growth in the win/loss column this year.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - I know asking for nuance in conversations about Texas football is a big ask, but follow me here. Quinn Ewers’ transfer recruitment was one of the biggest stories of the summer and Texas seemingly pulled out all of the stops to land him. Coming out of high school, he was the highest-rated quarterback since Trevor Lawrence, who came in as a true freshman and was able to unseat the current starter and played relatively lights-out in his first year on campus. The expectations were very understandably high for him, especially seeing as missing out on him was one of the first dominoes to fall in the eventual separation from Tom Herman.
That being said, Vince Young and Colt McCoy both had some stinkers in their first snaps as the starters at Texas and both of them had the benefit of better offensive lines and more support at wide receiver. I think it’s very fair to be critical and frustrated, especially with what seems like a regression from him, but the growing pains – outside of some edge cases – are part of starting a 19-year-old quarterback.
Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) - Ehh, I wouldn’t say so. Expectations after Alabama and OU were probably a bit too high for a kid who is essentially a true freshman, but he’s also regressed to a 49% completion percentage (71-145) over the past four games with four interceptions to his seven scores, and he’s clearly playing with no sort of confidence. He’s playing like a kid without much experience, and that’s a bit to be expected, so if there’s criticism, it should be towards Sark for leaving him out there as the poor performances keep snowballing.
While the offense may have not shown up, PK’s defense did, limiting TCU to three points in the 1st half and nearly 30 points less (17) than their season average (45). Was it enough for the visiting recruits (Anthony Hill, Javien Toviano, and others) to be confident in the direction of the program?
Cameron - While the fans and the media may get worked up over every single individual win and loss, I think recruits are much more level-headed which is surprising considering they’re high schoolers. Even in the loss, Texas held a team that averages 45 points per game to just 17. Add in how great Jaylan Ford has looked (ahem Anthony Hill) and Jahdae Barron (ahem Javien Toviano) and I think’s a recipe for success.
Daniel - I definitely think they impressed targets on the defensive side of the ball and I think you would be hard pressed to find folks who are still looking to try to fire PK with the growth we have seen this year. Some folks will try to water down how much success is attributable to PK by talking about the presence of Gary Patterson, but ultimately this is still PK’s defense and he is still running the show on that side of the ball. From front to back you have seen jumps made from guys who have been in the program for a while to guys who just arrived earlier in the spring. More times than none the defense has found a way to make plays and has done enough to help Texas win games.
Gerald - I was impressed and I think the performance of guys like Jaylon Ford and Terrance Brooks, one showing off development and one showing off young contributors, should hopefully speak to them too. I think it’s easy to see the direction of the defense developing and I hope that it speaks to the kids that can take this defense from good to great.
Cody - You’d sure hope so. The overall direction of the program will probably matter more, but I think Sark’s overall body of work should inspire confidence that he can turn things around offensively to complement a surging defense under PK.
If Sark and the Horns win out to finish the regular season 8-4, would you deem the season successful?
Cameron - Yes. Anything less would be disappointing. On paper, Texas is a better team than Kansas and Baylor.
Daniel - I had them going 8-4 preseason with 9-3 being the best case scenario, so I would absolutely call that a success in my book with how things played out last year. If they can right the ship and head to a bowl game with a chance for a 9th win I think things are heading in the right direction.
If they are able to pull that off I am going to be shaking my head a lot in the offseason because the chance to win even more than that has been there this year.
Gerald - From a macro level, yes. I had Texas at 9-3 or 8-4 before Junior Angilau and Isaiah Neyor were injured, so Texas hitting that level in spite of key preseason injuries feels good to me. I also think it’s fair from the micro level to look at those four losses and be frustrated with the fact that all of them were infinitely winnable games that Texas couldn’t close on.
Cody - I would, yes. That was the common expectation entering the year, and it would mark three wins in the final four games with the only loss being to a playoff-caliber TCU squad. Go win the bowl game and end on a really high note.
Does Texas continue its revenge tour with a victory against the Jayhawks?
Cameron - Yes. Cold weather plus Lawrence might make this game a little weird but I think Texas finds a way and holds on. Texas 42, Kansas 24
Daniel - I am going to say Texas gets the win because I don’t want to think what the Longhorn interwebs will look like if Texas finds a way to lose to Kansas in back-to-back years. I think Texas has the stronger run game and that will benefit them on Saturday, but obviously, Ewers will have to be considerably better so that KU can’t load the box all game. Texas 38 Kansas 24
Gerald - I hate this game and this feeling. Honestly, I think with the way the weather is going to be, I could see this as a relatively low-scoring affair with Texas leaning on Bijan and Roschon in this one. 28-21 Texas.
Cody - Yes, but given the weather factors and Ewers’ recent struggles, I think it’s close. Texas 27, Kansas 17.
Let’s end on a positive note and that is the 94-73 shellacking the No. 11 Longhorns gave No. 2 Gonzaga on Wednesday to “bless the Mood” in the words of the MoC Matthew McConaughey. How big of a cup are you drinking out of the Chris Beard burnt orange kool-aid?
Cameron - You know those QT or Bucees Xtra-large fountain drinks? Yeah, that size. First off, Texas has a homecourt advantage in basketball for the first since…ever? Beard also has one of the best backcourts in recent Longhorn memory. Hunter and Carr are proving to be everything we thought they could combine to be. Dynamic scorers but also hounds on defense that made the Zags look like they were overrated. Maybe they are, but Mark Few’s Bulldogs don’t lose games like that. Ever.
Daniel - That was as stout of a performance by a Longhorn basketball team that I can remember in recent memory. They controlled that game from dang near start to finish and they absolutely finished it with authority by turning their new arena into Lob City. We know Chris Beard can recruit and get his teams to play good defense. If the offense can play as well as they did against Gonzaga then this team is going to be a ton of fun to watch.
Gerald - I won’t say we’ve pulled up a chair to the fountain, but we’re getting close I think. I think we’ve seen what the ceiling of this team can be with the performance of Gonzaga, so I want to see what the floor is with this team before I’m ready to fully go Brent Venables on the Kool-Aid. What’s it like on a random Christmas break weekday game when the crowd isn’t as loud and the lights aren’t as bright? That’s my one unanswered question.
Cody - I really liked this group entering the year largely because of the general talent, depth, and experience it poses. I’m pretty comfortable saying Texas will have a damn good season, but I’d also like to see some consistency offensively before I say they’ll be great. Was Texas just on fire that day, or is that a glimpse of what this team is becoming? If it’s the latter, well, I’d expect a second weekend appearance in the big dance.