First-year Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian has reportedly ended the quarterback battle in Austin by naming redshirt freshman Hudson Card the starter for the season opener against Louisiana. Card had been battling through spring practice and fall camp with Casey Thompson, who spent the last two years as the primary backup to former Longhorns signal-caller Sam Ehlinger.
247Sports’ Chip Brown reported the news on Saturday, noting that Sarkisian informed both quarterbacks of the decision on Friday night after a walkthrough practice. Here’s what the decision means for Card, Thompson and the Longhorns moving forward.
How Card won the job
According to Horns247, Thompson began fall camp with the No. 1 offense. That didn’t come as a huge surprise considering his experience advantage, not only with three years in the program but also an impressive performance in last year’s Alamo Bowl win over Colorado after Ehlinger got injured. Thompson completed 8-of-10 passes for 170 yards, but half of those completions went for touchdowns of 13, 25, 23 and 73 yards. The highlight reel sent many into the offseason imagining that Thompson, star running back Bijan Robinson and the addition of Steve Sarkisian would lead to an explosive offense for Texas in 2021.
But the inability to separate from Card during spring practice and fall camp left the door open in a way that eliminated Thompson’s built-in advantages. Horns247 reported that Thompson struggled with interceptions early in camp while Card did a better job of avoiding turnovers. That, along with the difference in skill set, seems to have played a big role in this decision.
What Card can bring to Texas’ offense
Card was a four-star prospect from the 2020 recruiting class, ranked as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country coming out Lake Travis in Austin. His mobility is an edge that opens up Texas’ offense, forcing defenses to respect him as a runner while extending the play for wide receivers with late-developing routes. We have heard about “all gas, no breaks” from Sarkisian and the Texas staff. If this offense is going to play with significant tempo, then having a quarterback who can freestyle when things break down or quickly take advantage of a defense lined up out of position is an attractive option.
This battle might not be over
Horns247 notes that while Sarkisian has decided on Card as the starter, he informed the quarterbacks that both would play against Louisiana. Earlier in camp, Sarkisian explained that ideally the Week 1 starter would play well and take the job moving forward, but he was prepared to play both Card and Thompson in the first game of the season.
Card now has the edge that Thompson held at the start of the offseason. He’s going to start the season with the first-team offense and have a chance to win the job for good. If he’s productive and takes care of the ball, that’s likely it for the discussion of Texas’ QB1. But if he turns the ball over like Thompson did in fall camp, then the veteran former backup will have a chance to win back the job on the field.