Inside Texas’ quarterback battle

Matthew Caldwell, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 15, 2022 flipbook.

Several weeks into spring practices, the Texas coaching staff has gotten a chance to look at most of the players. While there are battles for starting spots at almost every position, for the second year in a row, the most intriguing battle for Texas football comes down to the quarterback position.

One of the contenders in the battle is a familiar face: sophomore Hudson Card, the man who initially won last year’s quarterback battle, is no stranger to battling for his position. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks before the 2021 season that Card was named the starter over Casey Thompson, who transferred from Texas to Nebraska this year.

Last year started off well for Card. The Longhorn’s first game was against a strong Louisiana team, ranked No. 23 at the time. The Ragin’ Cajuns only lost one game during the season, and it was to the Longhorns. Against Louisiana, Card went 14-for-21 and completed two touchdowns in a blowout before being pulled to give Thompson a go.

But Texas’ second game of the season went awry for the sophomore signal caller. A sold-out Saturday night game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with an electric opposing crowd, got to Card. He looked rattled by the loud fans and the suffocating defense of the Razorbacks. Card went 8-for-15, throwing for 61 yards while taking two sacks.

His performance against Arkansas would all but wrap up Card’s season as starting quarterback. Thompson jumpstarted Texas’ offense, leading the Longhorns on three touchdown-scoring drives.

While Thompson transferred, Card stayed at Texas and is in the running for the starting job again. His competition is now the high-school phenom, redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers. He was a 5-star recruit, one of five players since 2000 with a perfect rating, who originally committed to Texas, but decommitted and attended Ohio State for a season, where he logged only two snaps. Then, it was back to Texas for Ewers.

Ewers is best known for his precision and arm strength, something his future targets have already spoken about. “Quinn puts some zip on that thing,” sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy said.

Card showed flashes of elite play in his first game against Louisiana last season, but didn’t have many good chances to show his biggest strength. 

“He is a really good athlete,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Hudson’s legs are a weapon for him.” Sarkisian said Ewers has been a good sport about the competition, which has given him a chance to learn the offensive systems at Texas.

“The guy that gives our team the best chance to be successful will play,” Sarkisian said. “One throw isn’t going to define who the starter is. We’ve been rotating those guys pretty fairly, and we probably will throughout spring. We owe both of these guys an opportunity.”

Whoever wins the starting job at quarterback will be set up for success. The Longhorns offense boasts some of the nation’s elite playmakers. Junior running back Bijan Robinson is coming off a 15-touchdown season, Worthy showed all the makings of a star wideout and junior Jordan Whittington is finally healthy again.

“I would say he’s been the highlight of what we’ve got going,” Sarkisian said about Whittington.

All eyes will be on this quarterback battle ahead of Texas’ first game against ULM on Sep. 3, where either the returning Card will start for the second consecutive season or newcomer Ewers will call the shots for the Longhorns.