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Hudson Card or Quinn Ewers? Steve Sarkisian Weighs In On Longhorns QB Option Against Red Raiders

Steve Sarkisian could elect to start Hudson Card on Saturday against Texas Tech.

Quinn Ewers is getting back in the saddle. Will he be ready to play for Texas on Saturday? 

Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian announced that Ewers would travel with the team to Lubbock on Saturday to face Texas Tech. Ewers, the highly-touted transfer from Ohio State, has not played since the first quarter of Week 2 against then-No. 1 Alabama at home. 

Sarkisian said that Ewers' status would be a game-time decision, meaning redshirt sophomore Hudson Card still could see action for the Longhorns (2-1) against Joey McGuire's hot Red Raiders (2-1).

"All of our guys had a better week than they had a week ago that's for sure," Sarkisian said Thursday. "I'm very confident about that." 

Ewers, who won the starting nod over Card during fall camp, has come as advertised in a limited sample size. Through two games, the Southlake Carroll alum has thrown for 259 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. He's also completed 69.4 percent of his passes and has made a handful of "wow" throws since arriving in Austin this spring. 

Initially, it was reported that Ewers would miss at least a month after suffering an SC sprain in his left shoulder in the 20-19 loss against Alabama. Things have changed in the past two weeks. Last Saturday before facing UTSA, Ewers was seen on the field during warm-ups, indicating that his return could be sooner than expected. 

Sarkisian might be cautious about starting Ewers due to future games. Following Saturday's matchup at Jones AT&T Stadium, the Longhorns return to Memorial Stadium to take on West Virginia. After that, Texas will face No. 6 Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown, a pesky Iowa State team, and No. 8 Oklahoma State in Stillwater before its bye week. 

Every game is a must-win situation for the Longhorns entering conference play, but matchups against teams like the Sooners and Cowboys are where Ewers' skills could be warranted most. Then again, the Red Raiders have turned over a new leaf to begin the McGuire era, especially on defense. 

Led by coordinator Tim DeRuyter, Texas Tech recently held No. 14 North Carolina State to 159 passing yards on the road en route to a 27-14 loss. Among all Big 12 teams, the Red Raiders are ranked sixth in pass defense (211 yards per game) and sixth in scoring (22.3 points per game). 

Sarkisian has been impressed with Card's demeanor in practice working with the first-team offense. That said, he'll need to play better on the road for the Longhorns to secure the victory. Last week in a 41-20 win over the Roadrunners, Card went 15-of-23 passing for 161 yards and a touchdown. 

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The biggest concern? Third-down conversions. Card the Longhorns only converted on 36 percent of plays (4-for-11). Through three games, Texas has gone 12 of 36 on third down (33.3 percent), one of the lowest among all Big 12 teams. 

"We’ve been put in a lot of unique third-down opportunities that have, in my opinion, are four-down territory meaning I know we’re going to go for it on fourth down anyway," Sarkisian said. "In reality, in my mind, I look at it as second down." 

Card, who elected to remain on the Forty Acres following Ewers' arrival, has earned not only the respect of the coaching staff but also the fan base. After Ewers left in the first quarter against Alabama, Card played through a bad ankle to keep things close, leading three scoring drives that were all capped off by field goals from Bert Auburn. 

Sarkisian has always praised Card on his maturity and leadership inside the locker room. The second-year coach sympathized with the fact that most young players won't handle constructive criticism and change in the same manner. 

Perhaps the Longhorns are planning to start Ewers. If there's any setback between now and Saturday, Sarkisian is content knowing he has a second option with Card in the mix. 

"He’ll be ready to go when his number is called," Sarkisian said of Card. "He’s matured quite a bit. I’m proud of him." 

You can follow Cole Thompson on Twitter @MrColeThompson

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