In a game in which the Longhorns were pitted against their own teammates, Texas’ greatest struggle had nothing to do with game planning and everything to do with the physical conditions.
Wind gusts of over 20 mph left trash and scattered debris flying across the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with no regard for Sam Ehlinger’s throws or Cameron Dicker’s kicks.
The result made for a pair of largely ineffective offenses, with Team Orange scoring just three points and Team White scoring 10. But despite what the numbers showed on Saturday, Texas head coach Tom Herman doesn’t put much stock into the offensive struggles.
“I hope none of us are going to try to take anything away from any kind of offensive performance tonight,” Herman said. “Not only difficult, (it was) almost impossible to do much with the wind the way that it was.”
As Ehlinger struggled to find targets, so did backup quarterback Casey Thompson, who completed just over 45 percent of his throws.
But the most important aspect of Thompson’s first public showing as the program’s new number 2 was his ability to move outside the pocket. Thompson, who switched teams mid-game after Ehlinger was removed, kept his offenses on the field on multiple occasions with big gains on the ground. In all, Thompson rushed for 42 yards and scored the game’s lone touchdown.
“Casey … was very accurate throwing the ball,” Herman said. “He showed you what he can do with his feet, but I thought he threw the ball well, too.”
For a brief period from late December to mid-January, Thompson’s future at Texas was in question with his decision to enter the NCAA transfer database. But if the Spring Game is any indication of Thompson’s role at Texas, it’s clear the sophomore is next in line to be the man under center.
Thompson was frequently knocked around by opposing rushers, despite his black jersey indicating that defensive players weren’t allowed to tackle him. From the start, Thompson’s ability was tested as he rushed for the northwest corner of the endzone only to get driven into the turf by linebacker DeMarvion Overshown. The next play, he again went back to the run, this time for the score.
“It wasn’t just a one-sided affair with our defense,” defensive end Malcolm Roach said. “Our offense did a good job, Casey made some throws out there today.”
It’s not yet clear how close Thompson is to being ready to take over as Texas’ starting quarterback. And while Ehlinger isn’t going anywhere — at least for now — Herman’s trust in Thompson represents a good sign for the budding understudy.
“I think we all feel confident in the trajectory of Casey and the improvement and strides that he has made,” Herman said. “We’re happy. We think we’ve got as good of a situation as possible there with Casey Thompson.”