The Texas spring game may have been “vanilla,” as coach Steve Sarkisian wanted. At least vanilla goes down easy.
The Longhorns did not provide any official stats, the action went quick and Longhorn Network missed lots of game action to show commercials. If there were any opposing coaches watching in Waco, Lubbock or Norman, Okla., it was hard to glean much information.
Just the way the Texas coaching staff liked it, probably.
Still, there were some key takeaways from the Orange-White game Saturday night at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
Hudson Card, Quinn Ewers both have hits, misses
Sarkisian made it clear that nobody should read anything into which quarterback started first. That said, Hudson Card went out with the first-team offensive line to start things off. He went 3-for-3 on a drive that ended with Roschon Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Quinn Ewers’ first play was a deep throw for Dajon Harrison. They couldn’t connect for what would’ve been a 30-yard gain. The drive stalled out at the 26, and Bert Auburn drilled a 44-yard field goal. Ewers went 1-for-5 on the drive with one ball thrown on a busted screen play.
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Ewers got the nod on the third drive — and with the first-team offensive line — and quickly made two completions. Then he took a snap, drifted to his right and launched a 62-yard touchdown pass to Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor. Now this was everything Ewers’ fans hoped for.
Card would later get to show his stuff. On one drive, Card had a nice dump-off to Keilan Robinson for a 20-yard gain. Then from the 6-yard line, Card took a shotgun snap and raced in for the score.
Ewers’ only real miscue was a bad throw over the middle that made for an easy interception by Anthony Cook.
The offensive line got plenty of work
The whole reason Texas couldn’t have a “game” with two different rosters was because of the lack of offensive lineman, according to Sarkisian. So it’s worth noting who was out there at various points. The first-team unit was left tackle Hayden Connor, left guard Junior Angilau, center Jake Majors, right guard Cole Hutson and right tackle Christian Jones.
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The second-team unit was left tackle Michael Balis, left guard Sawyer Goram-Welch, center Logan Parr, right guard Max Merril and right tackle Jaylen Garth.
No matter who was blocking, it doesn’t take much for some of Texas’ best offensive threats. Johnson slipped through a keyhole and raced 56 yards for a touchdown run early in the scrimmage.
So, about that running defense …
Sarkisian also said several times this spring that the run defense was having solid days. Maybe Saturday night was just the exception. The defense didn’t have to face Bijan Robinson (ankle) and wasn’t allowed to touch the quarterbacks.
Keondre Coburn and T’Vondre Sweat were paired together at defensive tackle. Byron Murphy II and Moro Ojomo also worked together inside. The coaches have been excited about Vernon Broughton and Alfred Collins’ work, but both of those players need to be more consistent, Sarkisian has said. Myron Warren would’ve had a sack before officials blew the play dead.
In terms of aggression, safety Kitan Crawford had one of the most aggressive tackles when he brought down Robinson.
Did the Horns pass the eye test?
Frankly, it was a mixed bag.
There were some great plays, like Johnson’s long touchdown run and Card’s scramble for a score. Card made a terrible bullet throw to Ja’Tavion Sanders near the goal line, and Sanders put it away at the 5-yard line. But Jerrin Thompson made an awesome strip at the 2 for a defensive turnover.
Cook and Crawford stood out for individual plays, but it’s clear the defense has more work ahead.
This was indeed just a glorified practice, the 15th and final practice of the spring. Now, the program shifts into post-spring mode and gets ready to welcome a more freshmen in June when the summer session starts.
The true believers probably left impressed. The skeptics will continue to lean on last season’s 5-7 record even though there’s been considerable roster turnover.
The 2022 season can’t get here fast enough.
Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter via @BDavisAAS.