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Golden: Casey Thompson, Hudson Card provided more questions than answers in Texas QB battle

Horns complete first spring under Steve Sarkisian

  • Texas opens the 2021 season on Sept. 4 at home against Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Sarkisian's first spring will be his most important at Texas.

Steve Sarkisian closed all practices to the media this spring,  presumably because he wanted to use a bunker mentality of sorts to make his first impressions on his new program and sink his teeth into this quarterbacks battle.

Or maybe he's following Nick Saban's wildly successful business model. 

The hope is his work with quarterbacks in Tuscaloosa will translate to what he does in Austin.

An estimated 25,000 fans were on hand for Saturday's spring unveiling of the 2021 Longhorns at the Orange-White game and, most important, a hotly contested quarterbacks battle.

It doesn’t really matter who wins these things, but if you really want to hand out an unofficial trophy, let’s give it to the defense for the amount of pressure the pass rush put on the two men fighting for the most important job on the team.

Texas football:With a ‘watered down version’ of the offense, Texas QBs have mixed results in spring game

Neither Casey Thompson nor Hudson Card did enough to provide any certainty as to who will be the starter this fall, which is fine in April. It's a process when it comes to installing an offense, dealing with the COVID-19 factor and developing relationships between a new coaching staff and players. The spring game was just another step in the plan. This isn't Sark's first rodeo. He's on the job.

He understands you're not going to replace the 46 career games, 11,436 passing yards and 94 touchdown passes that Sam Ehlinger gave the program overnight, and Sarkisian knows the patient approach is the smart approach. He called Saturday's game plan a watered-down version of what we will see when the real bullets start flying. 

Either way. it’s not it’s not surprising that the two unprovens aren’t ready for prime time just yet.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson throws the ball during the first quarter of Texas' Orange-White spring game at Royal-Memorial Stadium. He threw for nearly 250 yards but also was picked off twice, including a pick-six interception return by D'Shawn Washington.

What we know after UT's spring game

Here’s what we do know:

Bijan Robinson has the potential to be the best running back in the country. He has this box office look about him and nothing we saw Saturday took away from the early perception of him for the fall. He ran hard, showed some shiftiness on his short touchdown run and just looked the part of the bell cow we expect him to be.

Cameron Dicker (the kicker) can still boot it with the best of them. The most reliable scorer on this team not named Bijan. He split the uprights from 58 yards out and was successful on four other attempts. He even uncorked a couple of booming punts.

Jordan Whittington drew raves during the spring from his coaches and teammates and made several eye-catching receptions. The book on Whittington has never been about his ability but about whether or not he can stay healthy.

The defensive line promises to be an athletic bunch this fall and Alfred Collins and Moro Ojomo, Keondre Coburn  looked disruptive as part of units that totaled nine sacks despite the absence of edge rusher DeMarvion Overshown.

The two most watched players on the field had a couple of moments, but neither showed us a large number of aggressive, shot-taking downfield throws they spoke of this past week. Thompson was more vertical, completing 23 of 42 passes for 242 yards with a couple of interceptions while Card settled for the shorter stuff and completed 15 of 25 for 168 yards and a touchdown.

Texas quarterback Hudson Card runs the ball in the second quarter during the Orange-White spring game. Card threw for for 168 yards and a touchdown pass.

Orange and White game:With a ‘watered down version’ of the offense, Texas QBs have mixed results in spring game

Steve Sarkisian looking for 'consistency'

“The biggest thing we’re looking for is a level of consistency,” Sarkisian said. “Naturally when people come to bring games, they’re looking for the wow plays. We didn’t try to force those things today. We just wanted to manage the plays we gave them to execute.”

On the bright side, be thankful he’s saying those words on a crisp spring day in April and not in the last weekend of August right before the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette because it’s the first time in three season where there are legitimate concerns about the position leading into a season.

It’s a real luxury to know you have a proven commodity at the most crucial job in all of sports, but those days are in the past, assuming Sarkisian doesn't dip into the transfer portal for a more experienced option this summer, which is certainly a possibility.

Thompson was better in the first half. He connected with Whittington on a couple of nice throws, including a 23-yard toss on a scramble late in the second quarter, but he erred a few plays later when cornerback D’Shawn Jamison took his out route 91 yards for a touchdown the other way.

Card shook off some early jitters and threaded the needle on a touchdown pass to Marcus Washington to start the third quarter. It turned out to be the only TD toss by either quarterback.

Shoot, the argument can be made that the best pass of the day didn’t even come from the guys fighting for the starting job. Wideout Kai Money delivered a 40-yard dime to Gunnar Helm to start the third quarter, drawing a huge roar from the crowd. 

On whether he got enough from his quarterbacks in the spring, Sark said they made a lot of headway and there were plenty of cool teachable moments.

There are certainly more to come. It's the most important decision of Sarkisian's early tenure and he can't miss.

More:UT Orange and White game: Steve Sarkisian's Texas debut shows flashes on both sides of ball