For as terrible as he's been in the fourth quarter, Casey Thompson has been on-point for the most of game. In fact, most of his time working with the first-team offense has been promising.
From his four-touchdown day in the 2020 Alamo Bowl to his five touchdowns against No. 4 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, Thompson embodies exactly what Texas' offense can be.
That is, until he doesn't. Now, it's become a pattern.
Thompson isn't the only name at fault for the Longhorns' (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) two-game losing streak, but his second-half inconsistencies are evident. Texas has scored 14 points in the final 30 minutes the past two outings.
Thompson is responsible for just one, coming the final minutes against the Sooners on a 31-yard pass to Xavier Worthy. He's led the offense to nine scoreless possessions the rest of the time, seven of which have ended in three-and-outs.
Sarkisian isn't worried about Thompson's cooled-down mantra in the second half. Frustrations surround the team as a whole after two games that looked like wins now sit as "Ls" in the record books.
Thompson must be better, but his job as QB1 is not in jeopardy. At least for now.
“I think Casey has earned a little bit more of that right to work through some of those struggles,” Sarkisian said Monday. “The week before he throws five touchdowns against Oklahoma. He had a six-touchdown game against Texas Tech. So he’s played and shown really good football to us. I think he’s earned that opportunity to work his way out of this.
Thompson finished Saturday's 32-24 loss to now No. 8 Oklahoma State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) 15 of 27 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown. He also had two horrendous interceptions, one of which propelled the Cowboys' momentum in the third quarter.
The first interception was on Thompson. The pass was originally meant for wide receiver Josh Moore, but the ball landed in OSU safety Jason Taylor's hands for an 85-yard touchdown.
The second one, this time down by a score, was perhaps just as egregious. Thompson tried to find Worthy on a fourth down conversion. Instead, safety Tanner McCalister needed to take a few steps back to catch wobbled throw, thus sealing a win for the Pokes.
Sarkisian said that backup quarterback Hudson Card would "get his opportunity" at some point this season. The biggest reason it hasn't arrived? Thompson's consistent play in the first half of games.
"If that time comes where we need to make a change, we’ll be prepared to do so," Sarkisian said. "But we have all the confidence in the world in Casey that he can do that."
Texas will have time to get healthy and give Thompson rest. Things won't be easy once next Monday rolls around the Horns head back to work.
Two road games are on the schedule as Texas will travel to Waco to take No. 20 Baylor (6-1, 3-1) and before hitting up Ames for a showdown with Iowa State (4-2, 2-1). The Bears have one of the more potent run offenses in the league, an area Texas has struggled to stop.
The Cyclones rank top 15 in nearly every defensive category. Should both games end in a loss, Texas would be below .500 when returning home to face Kansas in November.
No, Thompson isn't the biggest problem for Texas, but he must finish games. Then again, Texas as a whole has a problem figuring out that mishap on both sides of the ball.
“Obviously, there’s a level of frustration for us all,” Sarkisian said. “We all get into this to ultimately want to win. You want to play well in doing so.”
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