“[Sports Information Director John] Bianco promised you would name a quarterback today. Is that true?” a reporter asked Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian on Thursday.
“I can name all five,” Sarkisian joked.
The Texas head coach didn’t end up naming all five quarterbacks and declined to publicly name a starter during his media availability, but he did reveal that he has “a pretty good idea” of which quarterback he’ll name the starter between redshirt sophomore Hudson Card and redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers.
“I want to give these guys an opportunity to compete, so that’s what we’ll do,” Sarkisian said with Saturday’s second scrimmage looming.
When Sarkisian does make his decision, he plans to give the starting quarterback all the reps with the first team indefinitely without any discussion of playing Card and Ewers in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe, though it certainly profiles as a game where Texas should create enough separation for the backup to see some action.
That’s a potential change from last season when Sarkisian publicly detailed his plan to use both quarterbacks in the opener, which eventually helped Casey Thompson beat out Card after Card started against Louisiana and Arkansas.
But the key difference this year is that Card has experience in Sarkisian’s offense.
“Last year was difficult in having two players that were new to the [offensive] system, and that’s always hard, especially when one of them isn’t a returning starter who had really been in the fire,” Sarkisian told ESPN this week. “This year, even though they’re new, Hudson’s got a little experience, and Quinn is coming in from another program. The reality is Quinn should really be a freshman in college. He reclassified after preseason camp had started. It was kind of a wash of a season for him.”
The discussion of Card’s experience, along with Card taking the first reps with the first team during Tuesday’s open practice, indicates that the Lake Travis product is likely to win the starting job when Sarkisian decides to officially end the competition to start the opener. The experience matters, and despite Card’s poor decision-making on Tuesday that led to numerous interceptions, he’s generally regarded as the better game manager at this point in Ewers’ career.
Of course, the competition isn’t over, Ewers should improve more quickly during the season given his youth, and if Card wins the job but hasn’t improved his pocket presence and eye discipline since last year, Sarkisian may have to turn to his backup once again.