DALLAS — Texas has its QB1 for the start of this season, jump-starting the Quinn Ewers Era in the process.
Coach Steve Sarkisian made his choice Friday, although there was no state of the quarterback room address from behind a podium.
As media were packing laptops and cameras from a routine morning player availability, a UT football spokesman added that he had an update from Sarkisian. And then things got pin-drop quiet with the confirmation Ewers and his trademark dirty blond mullet will start Sept. 3 against Louisiana-Monroe.
There was no follow-up statement on why Ewers, the former Southlake Carroll standout and Ohio State transfer, got the nod over redshirt sophomore Hudson Card. Sarkisian is expected to address the media Monday on the situation. For now, some key questions were left unanswered.
Among them: Just how long is Ewers’ leash?
Is he the starter regardless or at least until No. 1 recruit Arch Manning and his impressive bloodlines sets foot on campus? Or is this subject to change if things turn ugly in Week 2 against No. 1 Alabama?
It’s a fair question. A year ago, Card won the starting job in preseason camp over Casey Thompson. After a shaky road performance in a 40-21 loss at Arkansas, Thompson started the next 10 games in a 5-7 disappointing season.
After last season, Thompson transferred to Nebraska in college football’s game of musical quarterbacks and was named the Cornhuskers’ starter Friday. Thompson actually was putting together a nice season before suffering a thumb injury against Oklahoma.
And with all due respect to Arkansas, Alabama will be a next-level challenge for Texas.
The timing of the decision is also interesting, coming a day before Texas’ second scrimmage of preseason camp. The conventional wisdom was that sooner or later, Ewers would claim the position. But things seemed to escalate quicker than expected.
On Thursday, Sarkisian said he had “a pretty good idea but I want to give these guys an opportunity to compete, so that’s what we’ll do.”
By Friday, a starter was in place, even as several media outlets were suggesting that Card was the unquestioned front-runner.
More than anything, Sarkisian’s decision seems like a bet on Ewers’ incredible high ceiling over Card’s reliability. Ewers was the nation’s top high school prospect heading into the 2021 season, with a rare perfect ranking from 247Sports — just like Manning and former Texas standout Vince Young.
A longtime Longhorn fan, Ewers committed to Texas and then reopened his recruitment — one of several key factors in the fall of coach Tom Herman. With major name, image and likeness offers on the table, Ewers reclassified and enrolled at Ohio State without the benefit of spring practice. Ewers sat behind C.J. Stroud, receiving only two late-season snaps. He announced plans to transfer with Texas, TCU and Texas Tech as his three finalists.
While Ewers has flashed potential, rare arm talent and a knack for the deep ball in the practices that have been open to the media, there have also been signs of rust and the mistakes that come with learning a whole new system.
Remember, for all the hype and talent, Ewers’ next college football pass will also be his first. Both he and Card are battling the perception, rightly or wrongly, that they are only keeping the seat warm for Manning.
“When he’s playing, we’re trying to call the things that I know he does well while we’re still working on some of those other areas that we know he can improve upon as we grow. …” Sarkisian said Thursday of Ewers.
“If there’s some intricacies in the game that maybe aren’t as fluid for him right now, that’s our job not to put him in that position to do those things yet until we keep repping it with him to get him feeling really good about it.”