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Texas passing game still finding footing vs. disciplined defense

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With the first Texas preseason scrimmage in the books, the passing game is far from a finished product, and a formidable defense isn’t making it easy.

Texas Spring Game Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The first scrimmage of preseason camp is in the books, and Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian had mixed reviews about what he saw on Saturday, depending on which position group was in question.

Of course, the quarterback competition is the most notable as the season nears, and it seems nothing happened on Saturday for either quarterback to separate themselves. In fact, Sarkisian was less than pleased from what he saw from junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card.

“I wanted to push the limit with them and look at the decision making,” Sarkisian said. “And quite frankly, I don’t think neither guy played up to the standard that I view as acceptable, and I think what they view as acceptable.”

Sarkisian noted that both Thompson and Card had a great week of practice, but that preparation didn’t translate and apply to Saturday’s scrimmage.

“The key to the drill is applying the preparation to the performance, and we were too inconsistent at doing that today.”

Of the two, the only turnover was an interception thrown by Thompson.

As far as their continued development throughout the remainder of fall camp, Sarkisian likened it to teaching a kid to ride a bike, and that they’re removing the training wheels now and will live the with growing pains instead of doing so during the season, when he’d rather them be learning to pedal faster.

To that end, the Texas receivers didn’t do Thompson and Card too many favors today, with Sarkisian noting that they were just a little off and lacked a sense of urgency he’d like to see.

“We need to be better. I didn’t think we played with the sense of urgency that we’re used to playing with,” Sarkisian said. “We were a little off. I expect more out of them. I’ve seen more out of them, that’s why I expect more out of them. There’s that combination of the quarterback and wide receivers — clearly that aspect of our game isn’t where it needs to be yet.”

As for a silver lining in a dark cloud, Sarkisian is confident in what Texas has at running back. Beyond having a star-caliber talent in Bijan Robinson and a workhorse backup in Roschon Johnson, Sarkisian likes the change of pace the speedy Keilan Robinson provides behind them, and said Texas is four-deep at the position to include Daniel Young.

The defense, on the other hand, looked “sound and disciplined” and didn’t allow any explosive plays or freebies. Furthermore, Sark had praise for all three units of Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense.

“I think we’ve got a deep group across that line of scrimmage. I think obviously now with the addition of [DeMarvion Overshown] at ‘backer, that front is very active, they’re disruptive,” Sarkisian said.

Beyond the trenches, he praised the linebacking corps and experience of transfers Ben Davis, who scrimmaged today after missing some time with a foot injury, Ray Thornton, Devin Richardson, and Ovie Oghoufo, who Sarkisian highlighted for being physical. More specifically, he said they’re experienced and having played a lot of football a a high level allows them to “cut it loose” and play with the kind of speed and physicality that the staff is looking for.

Meanwhile, the secondary continues to come along nicely.

“I feel good about what’s happening in the secondary,” Sarkisian said. “I think we’re finding the right mix of people.”

Sarkisian singled out Anthony Cook as someone who’s impressed him, saying he’s playing physical and sound football. Others of note were Chris Adimora, who’s contending with Cook for the starting nickel role, D’Shawn Jamison, and all three safeties — B.J. Foster, Brenden Schooler, and Jerrin Thompson.

At this point, the talent is in place, but with a wealth of options, Texas is still trying to find the right mix in the secondary.