Training camp notebook: Longhorn QBs impress as offense wins second scrimmage

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FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2021, file photo, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian watches players run drills during an NCAA college football practice in Austin, Texas. Texas gave Sarkisian, a former head coach at Washington and Southern California, a guaranteed six-year, $34 million contract that should take him into the eventual move to the SEC planned for 2025, if it doesn’t happen sooner. (Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It was a welcome role reversal on Saturday compared to a week earlier, with the QBs playing well and leading the offense to a win over the defense in the Longhorns’ second scrimmage of training camp.

“I thought the offense played pretty well today,” Steve Sarkisian said. “I thought they did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage. We ran the football well. I thought the quarterbacks had a nice day. I thought they were efficient with the ball, took advantage of opportunities down the field when they were there. In the end, I thought they kinda controlled the tempo. All in all, I loved the improvement from the offense.”

The scrimmage was about 100 plays and split into two halves, according to Sarkisian. He had said before the start of camp that the team would have two scrimmages, with a third serving more as a full walkthrough for the game day routine.

Sarkisian was rather effusive in his praise for both Hudson Card and Casey Thompson, especially compared to last week. While he talked both of them up, he didn’t single either one out, instead talking about quarterback play as a group, not individually.

“I would say they played winning football today, and that’s the standard,” Sarkisian said. “First of all, that starts with taking care of the ball. The second aspect of that is managing the offense. The third thing, I thought they took advantage of the opportunities when they were there.”

Saturday’s play was a culmination of what Sarkisian thought was a “really good” week of practice for Card and Thompson.

“We challenged them after that first scrimmage, and I thought they had a really good first three days coming off the scrimmage,” Sarkisian said. “They both went out and performed pretty well from the naked eye today. I thought our tempo was better offensively, which is a lot on them of controlling that tempo. And I thought they got completions. Half of the key to the drill in our system is getting completions.”

Now when it comes to naming a starter, Sarkisian doesn’t have a timeline set for when he’d like to do that, and even if he does, there’s no guarantee he’d announce it ahead of the season opener.

“It’s on my mind,” Sarkisian said about naming a starter. “I don’t wanna act like I’m neglecting it. The ideal world is you know sooner rather than later. If I can put my head down on the pillow tonight and know who that starter is, that’s great. That doesn’t mean I have to tell you guys and announce it, but I may know. But that would be ideal. But the reality is … these guys have made it difficult because outside of last Saturday when we just didn’t play great at quarterback, they’re performing pretty good. They’re playing good and they’re making it hard.”

Injury update

Receiver Troy Omeire left Wednesday’s open practice with a knee injury and was held out of Saturday’s scrimmage. According to Sarkisian, he has a “subtle strain.”

“He’s in the rehab process,” Sarkisian said. “I don’t wanna call it day-to-day, but I also don’t wanna think it’s months, either. I think the reality of this thing with him could be a week, maybe two. We’ll see.”

Jaden Alexis was the only player who didn’t finish the scrimmage because of injury. He suffered a knee injury, but Sarkisian didn’t have an update beyond that.

There were also some players that were held out for “bumps and bruises.” While Sarkisian didn’t say how many or who they were, he didn’t seem concerned about their status.

The best of the rest

While the quarterbacks dominate the conversation, however good the eventual starter is can be entirely negated by poor play from the offensive line. Fortunately for Card and Thompson, Sarkisian was happy with what he saw from that unit on Saturday.

“I feel better about us up front, offensively, this week than I did last week,” Sarkisian said. “I thought the guys played well. I thought the tight ends played well. That was a positive.”

Their success also means good things for the running backs – a position that Sarkisian’s been high on all of camp.

“I think we’ve got really good depth at running back,” Sarkisian said. “I know I talk a lot about Bijan [Robinson], and he’s a special player, a very versatile guy. But having Roschon [Johnson] there, having the addition of Keilan Robinson and then the emergence of Jonathan Brooks, that’s a pretty good luxury for us at that position.”

On the other side of the ball, he’s happy with the depth on the defensive line. And the third phase of the game is also standing out to Sarkisian.

“I feel good about our special teams,” Sarkisian said. “I think that we’ve got depth, we’ve got really good returners, I think our kicking game is really sound. That aspect of it is good.”

What’s next?

The Longhorns are heading into the home stretch of the preseason. The team is off on Sunday, and the coaches will use that time to build a true two-deep. After that, they’ll start preparing for the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette while the schedule shifts to the game-week routine with practices in the morning and class starting on Wednesday.

On Monday, the team will move back into the south endzone, which has been under construction for two years.

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