AUSTIN (KXAN) — Quarterbacks were a big topic of discussion Tuesday as Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian met with the media for the first time before fall camp opens Wednesday.
The two signal-callers vying for the starting job are both familiar with the program in their own ways — transfer Quinn Ewers and Lake Travis product Hudson Card — and Sarkisian said while Card has more familiarity with the offense, Ewers is learning the intricacies of it.
“It’s one thing to talk the offense in the meeting room, and it’s another thing to actually do it, and do it consistently on the field,” Sarkisian said of Ewers. “I give him a lot of credit, everything that we’ve asked of him to make a correction from one day to the next, he’s really worked at it and tried to do it.”
Ewers was a highly-touted recruit out of Southlake Carroll High School who was coveted by the Longhorns while Tom Herman was the head coach. Ewers initially said he’d be a Longhorn, but then changed his mind and went to Ohio State. His only playing time for the Buckeyes was making two handoffs in a 56-7 blowout win over Michigan State. He went into the transfer portal at the end of the season and came back to where he originally said he was going to go.
Card, meanwhile, split time with Casey Thompson last season. Card began the season as the starting quarterback, but ended up starting just two games while appearing in eight. He threw for 590 yards on 51-for-83 passing. This is his third year with the program.
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“A lot of it for Hud was, what does his comfort level really look like in our system now in year two,” Sarkisian said. “It’s not just about him, but how that exudes to his teammates, in his performance of everybody around him, not just himself.”
Whoever Sarkisian decides to go with September 3 against Louisiana-Monroe, expect the other one to be close by waiting for the right opportunity.
“I’m excited for both these guys,” Sarkisian said. “You know, both great teammates, both really coachable, both highly competitive, highly driven young men. Both would love the opportunity to take the field when the first team takes the field September 3.”
More than half the scholarships players are underclassmen
Sarkisian said 57 of the team’s 85 scholarship players are either freshmen or sophomores, and while that makes fall camp that much more important to get the younger players mentally prepared for games, he sees it as a great opportunity to develop roster depth.
“We’ve got a lot of growing up to do and we need to grow up quickly,” Sarkisian said. “We are talented and this is going to be a competitive camp. But I also think building our mental toughness is going to be critical as well throughout this training camp so that when adverse times present themselves in season, we’re prepared for the moment, and that we come out on the other side of those obstacles in a positive manner.”
With 35 scholarship players new to the program, another part of fall camp is how quickly can the team build chemistry and camaraderie, Sarkisian said. He mentioned the old cliche about building programs, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” but he had a different twist on it.
“Who says you can’t sprint a marathon?” he said. “From a cultural standpoint, from a team bonding standpoint, this is a great challenge for us with 35 new scholarship players of how close and how tight-knit can we make this team.”
After last year’s disappointing 5-7 season without a bowl game, Sarkisian said he looked at himself and how he could improve as a coach. Specifically, he said his team blew too many leads in the second half and didn’t respond to adversity very well — and that was on him.
“Where I need to be better is making sure that our players and our staff respond better to the adversity when it presents itself in-game,” he said. “I’m challenging myself on to make sure that we’re in a better frame of mind to do that when it presents itself.”
2022 Texas Longhorns season schedule
When fall camp concludes, it’s go-time. All three nonconference games are at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, including the showdown with powerhouse Alabama on Sept. 10. There are seven home games this season with Big 12 opponents West Virginia, Iowa State, TCU and Baylor all coming to Austin.
Sarkisian said he stressed to the team how important it is to use its home field advantage.
“We definitely want to take advantage of that,” he said. “We’ve got an awesome home-field advantage, and we need to make the most of that with every opportunity that we get.”
|Sat., Sept. 3||vs. Lousiana-Monroe||7 p.m. CT||LHN|
|Sat., Sept. 10||vs. Alabama||11 a.m. CT||FOX|
|Sat., Sept. 17||vs. UT-San Antonio||7 p.m. CT||LHN|
|Sat., Sept. 24||@ Texas Tech (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Oct. 1||vs. West Virginia (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Oct. 8||vs. Oklahoma (Big 12, Red River Showdown in Dallas)||TBA||ABC|
|Sat. Oct. 15||vs. Iowa State (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Oct. 22||@ Oklahoma State (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Nov. 5||@ Kansas State (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Nov. 12||vs. TCU (Big 12)||TBA||TBA|
|Sat., Nov. 19||@ Kansas||TBA||TBA|
|Fri., Nov. 25||vs. Baylor||TBA||ABC or ESPN|