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Takeaways From Texas' Scrimmage: QB Battle Needs More Work

The good news for Texas is that at least they have time to fix things before September 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette

Texas opens the season against No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette to begin the Steve Sarkisian era. Now ranked, the No. 19 Longhorns will be on full blast if they lose a top 25 matchup to begin a new campaign. 

Maybe it's a good thing that Texas still has three more weeks. The first thing they must do is figure out the quarterback battle. 

Casey Thompson considers playing quarterback similar to that of a NASCAR driver. One must master the turn before hitting high speed on the straightaway. 

“You have to find that threshold of how fast or slow you can go and turn that corner,” Thompson said Wednesday. “If you don’t try it in practice, you’ll never know for the game.”

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Practice makes perfect, right? Good thing a scrimmage doesn't matter or fans of the Longhorns might need to enter DEFCON 3 while teetering towards DEFCON 2. 

Sarkisian said Saturday that both Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card did struggle on Saturday. Much like the week before where the first-year head coach said this decision would be difficult, it still is entering Week 2 of camp.

The difference? Saturday was a negative day instead of a positive one.  

“Neither guy played up to the standard that I view as acceptable, and I think what they view as acceptable,” Sarkisian said. 

Sarkisian said Thompson had a turnover on a little flare pass on a scramble. Usually, a veteran knows to hold on the ball than risk committing a turnover. Maybe the junior saw something worth forcing? 

As for Card, there was nothing to report Sometimes, no news is good news. That wasn't the case. 

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Sarkisian said that practice is making the decision on who to start tough. However, when the it was time to show off, things change.

Said Sarkisian: "All of a sudden go to a scrimmage format, and we didn’t apply the things we had done all week long.”

Part of the reason for a scrimmage is to show what a player can do under pressure. Both Thompson and Card underwhelmed inside a closed-off Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium

“The key to the drill is applying the preparation to the performance, and we were too inconsistent at doing that today,” Sarkisian said. “So both guys going into next week have got to take the practice reps and then ultimately apply it to the scrimmage next Saturday.”

Thompson still is riding high off his victory in the Alamo Bowl. In practice, he's been the vocal leader of the offense and is acting the part of QB at Texas. 

Card, whose upside might be stronger than last year's No. 2 option, is trying to lead by example instead of the "rah, rah, rah" approach. 

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There's no right answer on how to play quarterback in the locker room. A quiet type can kill it on the field when the lights are at the brightest. A vocal presence could play up the standards and no one would bat an eye. 

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This is Texas, a team that is looking for the right coach and a Big 12 title for the first time since 2009. All that matters is which gunslinger can get the win. 

Based off Sarkisian's reaction, neither is ready to take the next step in the battle for QB1. =Tough love can be a tool to help anyone reach their potential. 

Right now, it's needed at the QB spot. 

"The reality of it is I’m probably harder on that position than from any other position on the field from a coaching perspective," Sarkisian said. "We demand a lot from them, and we’re not going to settle. We’re going to keep pushing them to be the best so we can be the best. So I have to find that right threshold with him to find where their ceiling is right now.”

Here are some other quick notes from the scrimmage:

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- Sarkisian highlighted the defensive line as one of the strongest groups for Texas entering the year. Led by tackle Keondre Coburn and veterans Jacoby Jones and Moro Ojomo, this a unit that is replacing Ta'Quon Graham and Joseph Ossai on the edge. 

Alfred Collins, the sophomore from Bastrop, should be Graham's replacement in Pete Kwiatkowski's 4-2-5 look. 

- Sarkisian also mentioned stability at the running back spot and tight ends. When asked about Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson, Sarkisian said his role would be a "change-up guy" that will bode well for the rushing attack. 

"He's a shifty player," Sarkisian said. "He's savvy. He's good on special teams and for not a big stature guy, he plays a physical brand of football." 

- As for the wide receivers? There's some work to be done. Sarkisian pointed out that there's always room to grow, but Saturday was one of those days where he knows more could have been done. 

Said Sarkisian: “I thought we played OK, quite frankly, at wideout today, and we need to be better. I didn’t think we played with quite the sense of urgency that we're accustomed to playing with.”

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Texas is returning leading receiver Joshua Moore from the 2019 season. Along with him are Jordan Whittington, Marcus Washington, redshirt freshmen Troy Omerie and Kelvontay Dixon, plus true freshman Xavier Worthy. 

- The secondary could be the team's bread and butter in 2021. Sark is pleased with the growth of names like Anthony Cook, Brenden Schooler and D'Shawn Jamison, but other like B.J. Foster and Jerrian Thompson also are playing up to speed. 

"We've got some depth there," Sarkisian said. "We're trying to find the right mix, which we talked about early on in camp of what that right mix is with the nickel, the safety, things of that nature."

- New edge rush Ben Davis returned to practice for the first time since joining the staff. Prior to Saturday, Sarkisian said that the former Alabama linebacker was dealing with "nothing serious," but did not disclose the injury. 


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