Orange-White Spring Game gives fans first opportunity to see Sarkisian’s program in action

Carter Yates

The west end of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was packed nearly shoulder to shoulder Saturday afternoon as eager Longhorns fans waited anxiously for their questions about the new-look Texas football team to be answered.

But in a glorified practice with the 2021 season still over four months away, this year’s edition of the Orange-White Spring Game proved that this Texas team has a lot of work to do.

Both offenses, pioneered by junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card, struggled to put points up on the board, with the final score being 20-12 in favor of the White team, quarterbacked by Card. Critical mistakes in the red zone, whether it be taking multiple sacks or throwing an interception, helped put a damper on an overall solid outing by both quarterbacks.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian said Thompson’s interception in the waning moments of the half, which was returned for a 92-yard touchdown by senior cornerback D’Shawn Jamison, was a crucial error.

“It’s funny how football comes back to the ball and scoring in the red area,” Sarkisian said. “I thought that showed up today with a critical turnover at the end of the first half, returning it for a touchdown.”

Jamison said he and the rest of the members of the Texas defense turned the intensity up a notch today in the red zone, even though it was only a scrimmage.

“We all came together in the huddle and we told each other, ‘We got to make sure they don’t get in the end zone,’” Jamison said. “We got to make sure we do our job and do it fast because when the offense is in the red zone, the ball comes out fast.”

In the latest installment of the quest to replace four-year starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger, neither quarterback pulled away from the competition. Aside from the costly interception in the red zone, Thompson showed flashes of brilliance in an overall solid outing. The junior completed 23-of-42 passes for 242 yards, with highlight plays like his 23-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Whittington as he rolled out right and dropped it between two defenders.

Card overcame a slow start marred by multiple drops from his receivers to catch fire in the third quarter. The redshirt freshman finished 15-of-25 for 168 yards and a touchdown, with 79 of those yards going to junior wide receiver Kai Money.

“I thought both guys were a bit jittery at times in the pocket and lost (their) eyes, but that’s understandable in a spring game,” Sarkisian said. “I thought there were some other really good throws that were made … but again, overall efficiency, not bad.”

Both the Orange team and White team defenses combined on the day for nine total sacks, as players such as junior defensive lineman Moro Ojomo and senior defensive lineman Jacoby Jones stood out for their relentless effort in pursuing the quarterback over a patchwork offensive line on both sides.

Junior defensive lineman Keondre Coburn credited the group for calmly regrouping after Thompson and the Orange team offense got off to a fast start.

“(The) first drive, it was kind of shaky, offense got off to a fast start,” Coburn said. “After that, we regrouped. I had a bunch of pressures, Moro (Ojomo) had three sacks, Jacoby (Jones) was getting TFLs and sacks. … It just took us a little time to get back to football shape.”

Now that spring practice is officially over and the players have a couple weeks off before summer workouts begin, Coburn said he and the rest of the players are starting to buy into Sarkisian’s mantra of “All Gas, No Brakes.”

“When they first got here and said that, I was like, ‘Man, what is all gas, no brakes?’” Coburn said. “A couple of weeks before spring ball, they put it on us on that Friday, all gas no brakes, and we were like, ‘This is real. They’re not playing with us.’”