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Texas QB Quinn Ewers stands out in first preseason practice

Steve Sarkisian said the second-year Longhorn had one of his best practices in burnt orange and white.

NCAA Football: Texas Longhorns Spring Practice Austin American-Statesman-USA TO

AUSTIN — In a media availability following the first preseason practice for the Texas Longhorns in preparation for the 2023 season, head coach Steve Sarkisian praised the performance of redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers.

“I thought Quinn played really, really well. One of the better practices he’s had since I’ve been here,” Sarkisian said.

Following an important offseason as Ewers eyes a potential entrance into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Texas starter showcased improvement in areas of emphasis during the offseason, including pocket movement and timing.

“I just think the ball was coming out timely. When we got a little off schedule, he moved really well in the pocket and kept his vision up downfield, was able to make throws kind of off platform on the move, which is something that we’ve really been working on in the offseason coming off of last year,” Sarkisian said.

“And when things weren’t there, he was finding completions, he was finding check downs. So inevitably, it was just a clean practice for him. There weren’t forced throws, he wasn’t throwing into coverage. He didn’t get stuck holding the ball because he didn’t know where to go with it. It just felt like he operated at a high level.”

Sarkisian then expanded on how the overall quickness from Ewers came in two important areas — his movement in the pocket thanks to offseason conditioning work and faster mental processing.

“Since we’ve had him this is the best shape we’ve seen him in and so the suddenness in the pocket, like I said the ability to make throws off platform on the move was there, but I think he was quicker mentally today, too, I would argue probably the quickest I’ve seen him mentally. The decision making was very clean for him.”

Other practice notes from Sarkisian:

  • The Longhorns are practicing during the day on Thursday and Monday and then in the evening on Friday and Saturday, but the emphasis is on working during the heat of the day in preparation for an afternoon kickoff in the opener against Rice on Sept. 2. The urgency in practicing during the day is in part because classes start in less than three weeks, at which point Texas will have to practice exclusively in the mornings.
  • While Sarkisian was pleased with the energy and intention during practice on Wednesday, he noted that some players still need to improve their conditioning as preseason camp progresses.
  • Redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy and freshman quarterback Arch Manning both made strides from spring practice, Sarkisian said.
  • The quarterbacks managed to avoid throwing interceptions, but Sarkisian said the defense was effective creating fumbles, a point of emphasis heading into the 2023 season.
  • Although evaluating physicality is difficult in helmets and shorts, Sarkisian thought the passing game was effective, as he believes it should be when the team isn’t in pads, and the communication was good.
  • With the team splitting the field and the ones and threes working close to Sarkisian, the Texas head coach liked the performances of junior running back Jonathon Brooks and senior running back Keilan Robinson. Freshman running back Tre Wisner, however, had some expected growing pains amongst more positive flashes.

“You see flashes of what made him such a good high school player — he is a versatile guy, he’s got one-cut ability and can get vertical with speed. But the nuances of the position in the scheme, that’s going to take some time,” Sarkisian said.

Freshman running back CJ Baxter is close to 220 pounds now, but still moves with fluidity and doesn’t look too heavy, according to Sarkisian, who said he doesn’t look like a true freshman.

  • Senior wide receiver Isaiah Neyor was wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired knee, but Sarkisian said he looked like the player Texas recruited from Wyoming.
  • Without the benefit of watching practice film, Sarkisian thought redshirt senior David Gbenda, junior Morice Blackwell, and freshman Anthony Hill all performed well at the Will position next to senior Jaylan Ford.

“Again, I may go turn on the tape and we could have a bunch of busts,” Sarkisian said. “I don’t know — I gotta figure that out. But just the feel of it, it felt right, we weren’t cutting guys loose, we weren’t just out of our zone and doing things of that nature, so that was a positive.”

  • Sarkisian also singled out sophomore cornerback Terrance Brooks and freshman safety Warren Roberson as players who had strong practices from the naked eye.
  • Vince Young was in attendance on Wednesday calling out the numbers of players who weren’t running when the team moved into the Bubble, prompting Sarkisian to joke that he might go back and watch practice film of Young at Texas to see if he hustled in those moments.
  • Author Jon Gordon, a speaker who emphasizes developing positive peoples, leaders, organizations, and teams, spoke with Texas for the second straight year.

“It’s just about how do you deal with your with your inner thoughts,” Sarkisian said. “How do you view the world, individually? Are you viewing the world from a from a negative standpoint, do you have fear? Do you have self doubt? Or are you looking at it from a positive standpoint of I can I will and this is the way I’m going about my business?”