Both Texas QBs to receive time in opener despite Card being named starter

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the August 31 flipbook. 

Steve Sarkisian took plenty of time — needing numerous scrimmages and an entire off-season — before finally announcing Texas’ starting quarterback to open the season.

The Texas head coach gave redshirt freshman Hudson Card the nod at the first of his weekly Monday press conferences. Sarkisian noted how tight the competition between him and junior Casey Thompson was and that the latter would also play in Saturday’s game against No. 23 Louisiana.

“We’ll continue to evaluate the situation from there, but that’s the direction we’re going to go this weekend,” Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian wouldn’t say how much or in what situations Thompson would see the field, or even whether or not there will be an ongoing battle between the two quarterbacks going forward.

“I think there’s got to be a feel for the game (in deciding when Thompson plays),” Sarkisian said. “Hudson’s earned the right to be the starter, but somewhere in this game Casey’s going to get his opportunities as well.”

Obviously, Texas fans know what Thompson is capable of. The dual-threat quarterback out of Oklahoma replaced an injured Sam Ehlinger in the 2020 Alamo Bowl and proceeded to tie a Texas bowl game record with four touchdown passes. His performance created plenty of buzz and excitement about the future of the position following Ehlinger’s decision to declare for the NFL Draft.

While Texas fans haven’t seen as much on-field action from Card, he’s proved to be no slouch either. Local Austinites might remember him from his days at Lake Travis High School, where he led the Cavaliers to the 6A Division 1 state semifinals in 2019. It’s no surprise the highly touted recruit found his way into a heated competition for the QB1 spot.

As Sarkisian has said throughout the off-season, having two quarterbacks on the roster that can play at an elite level is a luxury not many teams have. Ensuring that Thompson will see the field and get legitimate, non-garbage playing time would provide peace of mind in case something were to happen to Card or vice versa.

“We’re going to need both quarterbacks as the season goes on,” Sarkisian said. “I don’t think we’re taking a step back offensively.”

As far as why Card ultimately got the nod over Thompson, Sarkisian noted his arm talent and work ethic while being careful to emphasize how that’s not a knock on Thompson. Sarkisian focused mainly on what the quarterback can do for the team in a couple key areas: consistently moving the ball down the field, understanding situational football and preventing unnecessary turnovers.

“It was a tough call,” Sarkisian said. “In general, we try to make the best decision for the program at that time. But again, that’s why I think Casey’s going to play in this game, (and) we’ll reevaluate after one game.”

As Sarkisian also noted, neither quarterback has started a game in their college careers yet. Whatever fans think they know heading into the season might completely flip once the real games start.

What Sarkisian really wants to see from his quarterback is consistent play. The minute a quarterback goes out on the field trying to be extraordinary is when bad things happen, he said.

“I think both guys understand that,” Sarkisian said. “Now, when they get their opportunities, it’s not trying to win the job on one play. We’re not trying to have a starting quarterback just because he wows the crowd.”