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Texas' Card Taking QB Battle In Stride Under Sarkisian's Direction

Hudson Card could be the starting quarterback for Texas, but for now, he's learning on the fly.

Steve Sarkisian didn't mince his words when talking about Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. September 4 is less than a month away and he has to name a starter to face No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette. 

It's still early in camp, but the answer has been the same for months: neither Thompson or Card are slowing down on the race for the title of QB1. 

"Both Casey and Hudson, neither are making it easy," Sarkisian said Monday. "They're both playing well. They're both improving. They're both trying to do the things we're asking them to do, and that's what I hoped for."

READ MORE: Is This Sarkisian's Biggest QB Battle All-Time? At Texas, It Could Be

Card, entering his second season out of Lake Travis, is more of the quiet type. He's calculating when on the field, focusing on making sure the play runs smoothly rather than rallying the troops. 

He plays things by the books — an ideal soldier taking orders from his commanding officers.  

Thompson, who enters his fourth season, is the polar opposite. His vocal presence has been herald by teammates throughout the spring and into the start of fall camp. It's what a quarterback needs to be in order to keep a team ahead. 

Sure, maybe that works for Thompson. In Card's case, it's about leading by example. The way he carries himself in practice shows his fellow Longhorns why he defines the leadership mentality to command respect in a huddle. 

"That's something I can improve on too, being more vocal," Card said Wednesday after practice. "I've been working on that and I've been trying to improve and ultimately gain the teammates' respect." 

This is Texas, however. The quiet types don't last on the Forty Acres for long. Take a look at the history of pocket-passers and how they commanded perfection when leading an offense. 

Vince Young. Colt McCoy. Sam Ehlinger. All three had to earn respect from their teammates. In the end, it led to success for their time as the face of the program.

READ MORE: 2023 Texas Target T.J. Shanahan Jr. Moving To Austin for 2021 season 

Card knows being vocal is the only way to gain the full respect of his teammates and the confidence to play college football's most important position. After all, only one gets to call themselves the Longhorns' starter every season. 

To win the job, one must be extraordinary. Under Sarkisian's offense, maybe extraordinary isn't enough?

"There will be plays and certain opportunities where things will come out where I'll have to showcase certain things," Card said. "I try not to make anything up. 

"There's certain times where I will have to make plays and ultimately, I'm just going to be patient with that."  

Before Card made the jump from Lake Travis just 19 miles to DKR, Thompson was learning underneath Ehlinger. Last season, the freshman mostly carried the clipboard while Thompson took reps in blowout games. 

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The big showcase came against Colorado when Ehlinger was ruled out for the second half. Thompson went 8-of-10 passing for 160 yards and four touchdowns on the way to an Alamo Bowl win. 

READ MORE: Longhorns Ehlinger Closing In On Starting QB Spot For Colts?

In most cases, that would be the end of the story. Thompson would be the starter and Card would have another season to learn The difference? Tom Herman was calling the shots that December night in San Antonio. 

This is Sarkisian's team now, meaning every practice is a day where Card could pull ahead. 

"I just try to do what they tell me, do what I'm coached to do, and just take it day by day," Card said. "Just be myself, just play within the system and things will take care of themselves." 

Card said right now there's nothing throwing him off his rhythm. With a clean pocket, he'll deliver strikes to his receivers in stride. If forced outside, so be it. 

Running should come as second nature to the Texas quarterback. He was a top-five dual-threat quarterback as a 2020 recruit. In two seasons as the Cavaliers' starter, he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and scored 14 times on the ground. 

READ MORE: Texas Kicks Off 2021 Season Ranked In Coaches Top 25

There isn't a set plan in motion during pre-snap. Card says that each play will present itself as a new opportunity for him to show his growth.

But how long will that growth take? Will Card show enough to win the starting job outright? 

The battle for Texas' quarterback could be raging on well past the season opener. That's a question for Sarkisian to answer. It's Card's job to make the decision easier on his new head coach. 

Or tougher. After all, two capable starters are better than none. 

Said Card: "I'm just focusing on today and going day by day. The rest will take care of itself."  

CONTINUE READING: Texas Kicks Off 2021 Season Ranked In Coaches Top 25

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