On Friday, Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian informed the media — through Sports Information Director John Bianco — that redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers is now the starter for the Longhorns after emerging from the position battle with redshirt sophomore Hudson Card.
On Saturday, Texas will hold its second scrimmage of preseason camp, with the main emphasis on emerging more healthy than the team did last week when junior wide receiver Isaiah Neyor and redshirt senior offensive lineman Junior Angilau both suffered season-ending ACL injuries.
A host of other players also suffered minor injuries, and Sarkisian plans to hold them out, including senior running back Roschon Johnson, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Troy Omeire, freshman offensive lineman Cole Hutson, and junior nickel back Jahdae Barron.
“I don’t think I’m gonna play any of them Saturday, quite honestly, because I want them to get back and be really healthy heading into the two weeks before that ballgame. But I feel good about like the progress that they’re making,” Sarkisian said on Thursday.
With the most significant position battle resolved, the Texas head coach is looking at an overall body of work for remaining competitions, but the ability to sustain intensity and production over multiple plays in a row is unique in the scrimmage environment.
“I’m really evaluating all of it because I’m looking at conditioning, I’m looking at understanding of scheme, I’m looking at guys that can keep their fundamentals, their techniques, right? And then I’m looking at playmakers — at the end of the day, everybody can be right, but somebody has to make the play, right, whether it’s on offense or defense, and so I try to look for all those things,” Sarkisian said.
As game week looms after the coming week of practice, Saturday’s scrimmage represents a huge opportunity for the players trying to secure a spot on the two-deep depth chart.
Texas second scrimmage depth chart
|QB||Quinn Ewers||3||Hudson Card||1||Maalik Murphy||6||Charles Wright||12|
|RB||Bijan Robinson||5||Keilan Robinson||7||Jonathon Brooks||24||Jaydon Blue||23|
|WR||Tarique Milton||16||Brenen Thompson||11||17|
|WR||Jordan Whittington||4||Casey Cain||88|
|WR||Xavier Worthy||8||Savion Red||17|
|TE||Gunnar Helm --or--||85||Jaheel Billingsley --or--||9||Ja'Tavion Sanders||0||Juan Davis||81||Brayden Liebrock||89|
|LT||Kelvin Banks||78||Andrej Karic||69|
|LG||Hayden Conner||75||Malik Agbo||67|
|C||Jake Majors||65||Connor Robertson||62||Logan Parr||71|
|RG||DJ Campbell||52||Neto Umeozulu||72||Max Merril||79|
|RT||Christian Jones||70||Cameron Williams||56||Jaylen Garth||77|
|BUCK END||Ovie Oghoufo||18||Prince Dorbah||32||Derrick Harris Jr.||40||J'mond Tapp||17||Ethan Burke||91|
|NT||Byron Murphy||90||Keondre Coburn||99||T'Vondre Sweat||93||Aaron Bryant||53|
|DT||Vernon Broughton||45||Moro Ojomo||98||Jaray Bledsoe||94|
|JACK END||Barryn Sorrell||88||Justice Finkley||1||Kris Ross||97||Zac Swanson||86|
|SLB||DeMarvion Overshown||0||Jett Bush||43||Derrick Brown||9|
|MIKE||Jaylan Ford||41||Jett Bush||43||Devin Richardson||30|
|WILL||DeMarvion Overshown --or--||0||Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey||33||David Gbenda||33||Trevell Johnson||25|
|CB||D'Shawn Jamison||5||Jamier Johnson||31|
|FS||Jerrin Thompson||28||Kitan Crawford||21||JD Coffey III||27||Larry Turner-Gooden||3|
|BS||Anthony Cook||11||Morice Blackwell||37||Bryan Allen Jr.||7||X'avion Brice||14|
|CB||Ryan Watts||6||Terrance Brooks||8||Ishmael Ibraheem||19||Austin Jordan||4|
|STAR||Jaylon Guilbeau||13||MIchael Taaffe||36|
|PK||Bert Auburn||45||Will Stone||15||Gabriel Lozano||96|
|H||Hudson Card||1||Isaac Pearson||46|
|DS||Zach Edwards||43||Lance St. Louis|
|KR||D'Shawn Jamison||5||Roschon Johnson||2||Xavier Worthy||8||Keilan Robinson||7|
|PR||D'Shawn Jamison||5||Xavier Worthy||8|
|Injured||Limited or out||Suspended|
|RB Roshon Johnson||WR Jaden Alexis||WR Agiye Hall|
|WR Isaiah Neyor||WR Troy Omeire|
|OL Cole Hutson||LB Luke Brockermeyer|
|OL Junior Angilau|
|DT Alfred Collins|
|NB Jahdae Barron|
Depth chart notes:
- With Johnson out, junior Keilan Robinson and sophomore Jonathon Brooks, assuming he’s recovered from his illness, should get the majority of the carries as Sarkisian looks to protect junior starter Bijan Robinson, who is likely to only play a series or two.
- In 11 personnel, junior wide receiver Jordan Whittington will likely play outside, allowing Iowa State super senior transfer Tarique Milton to work in the slot. After a rough start to Tuesday’s practice and a strong finish, freshman Brenen Thompson would benefit from a more consistent performance and with so many players out or limited at the position, there’s opportunity for fellow freshman Savion Red and redshirt freshman Casey Cain make their case for the six-man rotation.
- As Sarkisian tries to determine the ideal base personnel group, the versatility at the tight end position could play a role. “I’ve said this all along, that’s probably one of our most improved position groups,” Sarkisian said. “I think JT Sanders is a fantastic player. I know we talked about the in-line blocking, but really his strength coming into our program was his ability to be flexed out, to do that. I think Juan Davis is another guy who is a natural receiver, ball skills, can really run. Jahleel Billingsley. So I just hate to say one guy because I think all three of those guys have that skill set, that natural skill set to do those types of things.”
- The scrimmage also represents a key test for freshman left tackle Kelvin Banks and freshman right guard DJ Campbell. “I think that with Banks, he’s a very mature young man. He’s very steady and consistent in his style of play, but his demeanor I think helps him at left tackle — he’s very calm, yet he has a physical nature about him and he finishes people,” Sarkisian said. “Campbell, physically gifted, long arms, will strike you, tough. It’s all about the consistency in his game that we’re working on right now, the fundamentals and techniques, all those types of things, but he’s an impact [player].” Sarkisian also mentioned freshman right tackle Cam Williams as an impressive freshman. In Tuesday’s practice, the second-team line featured four freshmen, along with redshirt sophomore Andrej Karic at left tackle, so all the reps for that young group will be important as they continue to push past some older players.
- Sophomore nose tackle Byron Murphy and junior defensive tackle Vernon Broughton continued to receive praise from Sarkisian and also from senior nose tackle Keondre Coburn on Friday with Coburn calling Murphy the best player on the entire defense and noting Broughton’s quickness into the backfield. At the Buck and Jack end positions, there should be strong competition for the backup spots.
- Sarkisian believes that inside linebacker has become a strong position group for the Longhorns with the addition of James Madison super senior transfer Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey and the emergence of senior Jett Bush after his move from the defensive line.
- At nickel, freshman Jaylon Guilbeau has been pushing Barron. “I think Guilbeau, he’s a very confident player. He’s a gym rat. He’s a football junkie. He loves the game and you see his instincts. We saw that at corner and then when you slide him into the star position, you see his instincts there as well and he’s been a playmaker,” Sarkisian said. Guilbeau had an interception in practice on Thursday and has been playing well enough that Sarkisian called the two players “interchangeable.”
- Count sophomore cornerback Jamier Johnson as an improved player likely to make the two deep behind senior D’Shawn Jamison at the field position. “Jamier Johnson is another guy who has kind of emerged and is getting more comfortable. It’s like anything, we’re all concerned about these guys in year one. Here’s this four star from California. Why is he not playing as a true freshman? That’s the product of development, I think is what we’ve been trying to preach to these guys. And Jamier, he’s a prime example of that and I think he’s played with a lot more confidence, is a lot more comfortable, and it’s created really good competition back there.”
- Redshirt freshman Bert Auburn looks to be ahead of freshman Will Stone in the competition to win the kickoff and place-kicking battles, so the live reps they take on Saturday will be some of the most important on the team.