AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Texas Longhorns gear up for the Orange and White football game and the end of spring practices, head coach Steve Sarkisian had the players, “back in the lab,” Tuesday,

He said the scrimmage April 7 was “fast and physical,” and they “got a lot of situational work done,” and Tuesday was more of an attention-to-detail session and fine-tuning aspects of the game before another practice Thursday and the end of spring with Saturday’s showcase.

Sarkisian said the team dedicated a portion of practice to just 2-point plays and other “special situations,” where he was hoping to see how well the players communicated with each other when those situations arose. He said he liked what he saw,

“It was very specific with what we’re trying to do, and we try to break those things up in practice and then when we scrimmage, we try to let them happen as they come so we get to see how the guys react to them,” he said. “It takes a lot of communication because it’s one guy recognizing the situation and then giving reminders and alerts to the guys around him. That constant communication was what I was pleased with Friday. That is a big step in the right direction for the program.”

Newman School quarterback Arch Manning makes a Hook ’em Horns sign after he signed to attend and play at Texas, in New Orleans on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. (Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

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As it typically does, part of the conversation in the media availability session with Sarkisian focused on the team’s top three quarterbacks — sophomore returning starter Quinn Ewers, redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy and true freshman Arch Manning. Sarkisian said while the defense created some turnovers in practice Tuesday in the passing game, it’s part of the process and the guys have to continue learning.

“We’ve done really well, scrimmage-wise,” he said. “On Friday, we had one interception in the 2-minute period, but we’ve been good. Sometimes in the practice setting, the ball can get a little loose. That’s when we have to keep training the guys about situational awareness and what’s going on. We’ve got to clean that up Thursday, and the goal Saturday is for the guys to be clean.”

Texas quarterback Maalik Murphy at practice.
Texas quarterback Maalik Murphy at spring practice in March. (KXAN photo)

On the flip side, he wants the defense to create some chaos because those plays can change games, and if there are enough of those big plays, they can change a season. He didn’t feel last year’s defense, while it was much improved from the previous year, took advantage of big plays enough.

“There’s tipped balls and things that can happen to create turnovers, and that’s where we really impress upon the defense to take advantage of opportunities,” Sarkisian said. “I felt like we missed some opportunities for some big plays, whether it was interceptions off our hands or tipped balls we didn’t get.”

At this stage, all three quarterbacks are at different stages of development and understanding what they’ve got to do, Sarkisian said. He said he’s happy with where they are individually and that he, “has high expectations of that room.”

“I feel like we have three quality players,” Sarkisian said. “Quinn is naturally a step ahead of everybody because of his experience, and we’re now getting a full dose of Maalik and we feel good about him, and Arch is 13 practices into college football and is performing well. They aren’t finished products. They have work to do, and this will be a big summer for them, and ultimately a big fall camp to get themselves ready for the season.”