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Football on the 40: Longhorns Quarterback Decision

Column, Sports

Quinn Ewers named starting quarterback for the 2022 Longhorns team. | Image by Sports Illustrated

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Steve Sarkisian has named Quinn Ewers the starting quarterback for the 2022 Longhorns team.

This decision follows a quarterback battle that has gone on since Ewers arrived on campus and started practicing with the team this spring. The battle came down to Ewers and Hudson Card, a quarterback product out of Lake Travis in Austin. Card was named the starter for the 2021 season and played until he was benched for Casey Thompson in a challenging away-game early in the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Following Casey Thompson’s transfer to Nebraska after the 2021 season and the acquisition of Quinn Ewers from Ohio State, Texas fans anticipated this battle between Card and Ewers to be a serious one. Card’s strengths and advantages coming into this battle were his agility in the pocket, his dual threat abilities under center, and his familiarity with Sarkisian’s prolific offense.

Ewers’ advantages over Card come in the form of raw passing talent. As only the second quarterback to receive a perfect high school player ranking from 247 Sports, Ewers boasts an extremely strong arm. Ewers can change his arm angle while moving in the pocket, still hitting his receivers with high velocity. Ewers is also a tremendous downfield passer who will be able to stretch the field against opposing defenses, but he’s known to take risks downfield. Texas fans should expect some interceptions as he flexes his playmaking ability.

Sarkisian’s offensive scheme places high emphasis on proper reads of the defense and timely throws hitting wide receivers in-stride. It’s an offensive playbook that has proven to take significant time for quarterbacks to become accustomed to. In Sarkisian’s recent history at Alabama in 2020, he decided to play a more experienced Mac Jones over freshman Bryce Young who also was ranked very highly by recruiting analysts. Mac Jones commanded the Alabama offense despite the gap between his and Bryce’s raw talent.

During our Spring Game review on Football on the 40, we discussed whether Card’s greater knowledge of the playbook could give him the edge over Ewers to be named starter. Bowen, Jake, Andrew, and I each agreed generally that yes, Card’s playbook knowledge was advantageous but wouldn’t prevent Ewers from eventually being named starter.

When asked whether he anticipated having Card take meaningful snaps in early-season games, Sarkisian indicated that this would not be a two-quarterback system. Sarkisian did add that, “Hudson’s job is still to compete every day, and either to win the job eventually or make Quinn better” through competition. Sarkisian also said that the team would, “still need Hudson at points in the season to win a championship.”

Sarkisian indicated that despite Ewers’ young age, his practice and game planning experience at Ohio State makes him feel like a more seasoned athlete in Austin. Ewers graduated from high school early to join the Ohio State Buckeyes out of high school and is currently the age of a typical freshman play caller.

The decision to name Quinn Ewers at Texas in 2022 was expected due to his talent; however, given Texas’ offensive complexity, it may take Ewers time to adjust, to gain confidence, and to gain command of his offense.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for Texas, games prior to Big 12 play this year have a high likelihood of following expected outcomes. The Texas team appears to have some opportunity to comfortably begin the season with three games at DKR. In weeks one and three, the Longhorns will face Louisiana Monroe and UTSA respectively. With Alabama coming in week 2, many fans and analysts may not view this starting quarterback decision as the difference between a 2-1 start and a 3-0 start.

Texas fans should be elated at the opportunity Ewers has to take command of this team. We’re going to see some major highlights and Ewers will quickly show that his passing talent eclipses even that of Sam Ellinger and Casey Thompson early in their careers at Texas.

Let’s hope he’s comfortable checking down to Bijan now and again!

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Football on the 40 is a weekly Texas Football podcast hosted by several deeply passionate Longhorn football fans and longtime friends Kevin Mathis, Jake Robinson, Andrew Harris, and Bowen Cai. Football on the 40 profiles the highs and lows of the Texas fan experience and dives deep into upcoming Texas games, weekly betting odds, and picks across college football. New episodes are posted every Thursday during the college football season on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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