Quarterback position up in the air for No. 21 Texas entering UTSA matchup

Hunter Dworacyzk, Senior Sports Reporter

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian did little to clear uncertainty about who will start at quarterback against UTSA during his weekly press conference Monday, declining to reveal who took the first-team snaps during practice.

Sarkisian said both redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers and sophomore Hudson Card are “day-to-day” in regards to the injuries the two quarterbacks suffered Saturday against Alabama. With Ewers’ sternoclavicular joint sprain and Card’s ankle injury, there’s a chance that someone deeper on the depth chart will have an opportunity to start at quarterback when the Roadrunners visit Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. 

If neither Ewers nor Card can suit up Saturday, Sarkisian may have to turn to redshirt freshman Charles Wright. An Austin High School graduate, Wright has been listed as the third quarterback behind Ewers and Card in both games this season. 

The former three-star recruit has appeared in two games for the Longhorns, making his debut last season against Texas Tech and taking garbage time snaps during this season’s opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Despite playing in two games at Texas, Wright has yet to record a pass attempt. Still, Sarkisian said he likes what he’s seen from the third-string quarterback. 

“He has made leaps and bounds from a year ago as a true freshman to where he is today,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got a good grasp of our offense and a good understanding of managing things. He’s thrown the ball much more accurately. He’s a lot more confident, which is needed at that position.”

Another option was freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy, but Sarkisian said Monday that he is “not healthy,” effectively eliminating him as an option against the Roadrunners. 

A four-star quarterback out of California, Murphy possesses the physicality that could make him dangerous to opposing defenses. Listed at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, Murphy has a gifted arm and is a threat with his legs. Nevertheless, the Longhorns will have to make do without him, should Ewers and Card not be ready to go Saturday.

Texas found itself in a similar situation last year during the final game of the season. With both Card and former Longhorn quarterback Casey Thompson battling injuries, Sarkisian largely turned to current senior running back Roschon Johnson in that game, utilizing the wildcat formation with Johnson acting as a de facto quarterback.

Johnson was recruited to Texas as a four-star quarterback, but he converted to running back his freshman season out of necessity with a lack of depth at the position. While Sarkisian said on Monday that his team does not “major” in the wildcat formation, he said Roschon’s ability to play out of the wildcat helps.

“Naturally, that role is comfortable to him, being a high school quarterback,” Sarkisian said. “(Roschon) is a unique person. I speak very highly of him as a person, and he’s very dedicated to this program. Anything we ask him to do, he does it.”

Regardless of what Sarkisian decides to do with the quarterback position against UTSA, he can significantly help his team by creating a game plan that complements whoever is under center. With the UTSA coaching staff left in the dark about who to prepare for at the quarterback position, an effective offensive strategy from Sarkisian and his staff could give the Longhorns a leg up against their next opponent, regardless of who takes the snaps.

“We’ve got good coaches on offense,” Sarkisian said. “We will put together a plan that is conducive to the guys that we may have available to give them the best opportunity to be successful.”