Texas, Oklahoma face quarterback questions ahead of Red River Rivalry game

Hunter Dworaczyk, Senior Sports Reporter

Redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers may see the field this Saturday against Oklahoma for the first time since the starting quarterback went down with an injury against Alabama on Sept. 10.

When asked for an injury update on the quarterback room during his weekly press conference on Monday, head coach Steve Sarkisian implied that Ewers is healthy enough to compete against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl Stadium on Saturday.

“We’re healthier than we’ve ever been since the start of the season, and that’s a positive,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll see how the week goes.”

Assuming Ewers is indeed healthy enough to start against the Sooners, the recent performance of sophomore quarterback Hudson Card complicates Sarkisian’s decision. Card posted the best statline of his career this past weekend against West Virginia, throwing for over 300 yards with three touchdowns.

With Card’s quarterback rating improving with each start, it appears that he just might be the hot hand. Sarkisian will have to choose whether naming Ewers the winner of this season’s quarterback battle still holds true or if Card has done enough to keep the spot for now.

“My philosophy is pretty simple,” Sarkisian said. “Play the guy that I think gives us the best chance to be successful.”

If Ewers winds up getting the nod for the quarterback position, Oklahoma does not appear to possess an overwhelmingly intimidating defense for the gunslinger to knock the rust off against. The Sooners allowed a combined 1,177 total yards in consecutive losses against Kansas State and TCU.

Nevertheless, both sides of the Red River Rivalry seem to always throw their best punches when it comes time to match up against one another. The last eight games at the Cotton Bowl have been decided by a one-possession score or less.

Despite the rivalry game’s ability to bring the best out of the Longhorns and Sooners, Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables said on Tuesday that he wants his team to always play with passion, regardless of the opponent.

“Hopefully we’re not more excited to play this one than somebody else,” Venables said. “That’s a wrong state of mind in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is dealing with quarterback uncertainty of its own. Starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel appeared to suffer a head injury in the loss to TCU this Saturday. Prior to exiting against the Horned Frogs, Gabriel had thrown for 230 yards or more in each of Oklahoma’s prior games this season.

While it’s not impossible that Gabriel will start against Texas, Venables not providing an update on Gabriel’s status suggests a decent chance the redshirt junior will be unavailable.

Replacing Gabriel on Saturday was redshirt junior Davis Beville, who completed seven of his 16 passes for 50 yards against the Horned Frogs. Although being thrusted into one’s first meaningful action on the road against a conference opponent is a hard task for a quarterback, Beville’s performance opened the position up for competition this week.

Behind Beville on the Oklahoma depth chart sit sophomore General Booty and freshman Nick Evers, neither of whom have thrown a pass at the FBS level. Venables said all three quarterbacks will take snaps this week in practice.

“(We’ll) see how this week goes,” Venables said. “By game time, we’ll have that figured out.”

Given the state of Oklahoma’s quarterback room and the performance of its defense of late, the Longhorns are given a 68.2 percent chance to beat the Sooners by ESPN’s Football Power Index. Yet Sarkisian said his team can’t get caught up in Oklahoma’s back-to-back losses and wind up underestimating its opponent.

“Last time I checked this morning when I walked in our building, the Golden Hat wasn’t there,” Sarkisian said. “We got plenty to get ourselves prepared to go for.”