Spring practice is officially underway and didn’t even make it one day before the aggregators pushed out Quinn Ewers/Arch Manning's clickbait material. If you missed the quote, Steve Sarkisian said that the starting QB position is open for competition. Do you take this as Arch has a legitimate shot to start or is Sark just pushing Quinn?
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - 100% pushing Quinn and holding his feet to the fire this spring. Folks just want something to write about so they can generate these clicks this off-season. Quinn needs to be pushed because he is in no position to get comfortable.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - Sark is a coach who learned under Nick Saban as he prepared to step back into the head coaching world. Saban is a master of talking to players through the media, which is what I’ve been Sark is doing. Ewers admitted to the media last year that he was being lazy with his footwork, so not letting him rest on his laurels is a must. Combine that with the multiple reports that the Manning family wants Arch to sit a year, I’d be shocked if Arch is the starter in week 1, save for an injury or something that makes Ewers unavailable.
Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) - It’s too early to completely rule out the possibility that Manning could win the job, but I think it’s extremely unlikely, for some of the reasons that I laid out earlier this week, including Sark’s decision to stick with Ewers last season through his struggles despite how well Hudson Card was playing. For Manning to win the job, Ewers would have to fail to develop this offseason and Manning would have to be well ahead of schedule. The latter is much more possible than the former, especially given Sark’s track record of developing quarterbacks. And Ewers's failure to develop and losing the job would make him one of the biggest busts at the position in the modern recruiting era. I think he’s too talented for that to happen.
Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) - I think it’s entirely to keep Ewers on his toes and focused on growth. It will take some time for Manning to adjust to the speed of the game, but it certainly can’t hurt Ewers to feel like he has to play better to maintain his spot. And I think that’s all Sark’s intent was – to push Ewers to not feel complacent.
Nik Patel (@NumberswithNik) - I feel like it’s more of a publicity thing as well. Sarkisian may have his mind made up in the first month, but it’s probably best for all parties to continue to work hard as if the position were a toss-up.
Which injury are you more concerned with: Xavier Worthy’s hand, Maalik Murphy’s ankle, or Isaiah Neyor’s ACL?
Daniel - Neyor’s ACL for me because I think when healthy he adds another element to the receiver group that they could really use. Adding AD Mitchell helps in that regard, but I was really excited about Neyor heading into camp last year after what we saw in the spring.
Gerald - Neyor’s ACL for sure. It seems like Sark wouldn’t have disclosed the hand issue if it wasn’t back to where it needed to be. The Texas WR room can be a huge strength for the team this year, but it needs to have the veterans healthy to do so.
Wescott - Worthy’s injury is in the past and while Murphy’s continued issues with his ankle some 14 or 15 months after the original is concerning, he’s not seriously in the mix to compete for the starting job at quarterback anyway, so the answer here is certainly. Landing AD Mitchell and adding signees like Johntay Cook and DeAndre Moore Jr. significantly reduces the pressure on Neyor to be the player that Texas thought they were getting last year, but he’s still a potentially huge piece of the wide receiver corps.
Cody - Neyor’s ACL. Save for injuries or blowouts, Murphy likely wasn’t going to play anyway, and Worthy’s hand is seemingly healthy enough for him to be at spring practice. But ACLs are a different kind of beast and how healthy Neyor actually is will impact the offense’s ceiling a fair amount.
Nik - Neyor’s ACL I believe is the most important. We saw some limitations last season when the wide receiver room really only consisted of Worthy and Whittington as substantial threats, and Worthy was sidelined for a couple of games as well. Making sure we really have a rotation of four solid guys to work with will definitely take the offense to new heights.
Both the Men’s and Women’s teams earned a first-round bye in this week’s Big 12 Conference Tournament. Will either one cut down the nets in Kansas City?
Daniel - If I had to pick one give me the ladies to take it home. Vic has his squad ready for March and I think they will be making another tourney run this year.
Gerald - I think the ladies, simply because of the Vic Schaefer factor. You won’t catch me betting against a Schaefer team in March.
Wescott - I think the injury issues are too much for the women to overcome, but I’ll take a risk here and say that the absence of Bill Self helps the men come away with the tournament title.
Cody - I’m going to say no, but if I had to choose one, I’d say the women’s club. Texas is fighting a Timmy Allen injury, and a Marcus Carr slump, and would still need to get through TCU and likely Kansas, which is a tall task.
Nik - The way the guys handled Oklahoma State in the first round and Kansas back at home, I would bet on them to win the conference tournament. However, the Longhorns won the regular season and have a far superior victory margin, averaging +16.9 points versus the men’s 10.3. Also with the way the bracket is set up, the ladies will only have to face one of their top three toughest opponents in Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Baylor. Meanwhile, the men’s team will have to figure out a way to beat TCU and most likely Kansas on the road.
After back-to-back losses on the road, Rodney Terry and the Horns righted the ship with a big-time victory over No. 3 Kansas to close out the regular season and held off Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals last night. Is that enough to quell any concerns?
Daniel - Definitely quells some of the pessimism, but you have to hope Timmy Allen won’t have to miss too much time after being held out against OSU. This team is ultimately going to be judged by how deep into the tournament they go.
Gerald - I am still concerned. We know that Texas is a completely different team when they are in the friendly confines of the Moody Center. There were moments early against Oklahoma State that definitely gave me pause.
Wescott - Texas says that Allen will be ready for the NCAA Tournament, so I’m going to trust that for now. But yes, as the upset by Abilene Christian proved two years ago, winning in the conference tournament doesn’t matter if success doesn’t follow in the Big Dance.
Cody - For me, no. They won’t have the Moody behind them again, and at a point when a single loss can end a season, I’m concerned about Allen’s health, Carr’s ability to return to form, and Texas’ typical inability to play a complete game from start to finish.
Nik - Unfortunately for Texas, the entirety of March Madness isn’t played in Moody. Texas has struggled with giving up these 0-6 runs here and there when on the road and they pile up quickly into deficits they cannot come back from. I believe they will have success in the conference tournament but my expectation when they go dancing is the Sweet 16 at most.
The Men’s team wasn’t the only basketball program to close out with a bang, with Vic Schaefer and the Horns blowing out Kansas State to capture their first regular-season conference championship since 2014 following comments made by Rori Harmon, Taylor Jones, and Coach Schaefer calling out the team’s effort and intensity. Was that the wake-up call the Horns needed to make a deep run in March or are bigger problems lurking ahead?
Daniel - Certainly looks like the ladies are looking ready for a big run this month. It’s hard to doubt Schaefer’s teams given what we’ve seen to date, so I won’t be starting now. I’m excited to see what they can do this time around.
Gerald - Having your team leaders publicly call out their teammates like that can go sideways in a hurry, but it speaks to the culture of that team. The word “culture” is overused a lot, but you can’t deny that this is a team that is bought into each other and bought into its coach.
Wescott - The comments from Schaefer and the players were certainly concerning. I suppose the outcome of the Big 12 Tournament will help determine whether they are lingering issues that could impact the team in the NCAA Tournament, but again, I just think this group is to beat up to make the type of run that has defined Schaefer’s career in recent years.
Cody - I haven’t followed that group much this season, so I’m going to sit this one out.
Nik - The first couple of weeks were definitely difficult for the team but I believe they have turned themselves around. They might not be a title contender but their trajectory in the past month has shown that they can compete seriously with the top ten teams in the nation.