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Golden: Uncertainty at quarterback doesn't bode well for the Texas Longhorns

Horns host Rice Saturday

  • Texas played both quarterbacks in blowout loss to Arkansas.
  • Redshirt freshman Hudson Card struggled as did the Texas offensive line.

Football is supposed to be a meritocracy, so Steve Sarkisian naming Casey Thompson as his starting quarterback against Rice makes sense on a certain level.

It’s also troubling because it brings into question what these last eight months have been about.

Bohls: Welcome to Austin, Sark, where Texas isn't quite ready for the SEC ... or the Hogs

Hudson Card won the job with a better spring and a better summer, but lost the gig in one failed half in Fayetteville?

Texas quarterbacks Casey Thompson, left, and Hudson Card waged a battle for the starting job throughout spring practices and preseason fall camp. Card won the job in August, started the Longhorns' first two games and now will give way to Thompson against Rice.

It points to a sense of uncertainty at the most important position in sports. Card struggled behind a bag of Swiss cheese masquerading as an offensive line that had no answers for the bigger, bulkier, scarier Arkansas defensive front that had steam coming out of their ear holes during a dominant win over a Texas team that had some top-10 aspirations after an impressive opener against Louisiana.

Bohls: On my top 25 ballot, Oregon, Iowa make big leaps but Texas falls out

With Thompson, the Horns will predictably roll past Rice and enter the Big 12 opener against Texas Tech with a 2-1 record.

Sark needs to make a call, sooner rather than later.

“Ideally, everybody wants to have a starter and the backup … everybody wants to know what it is,” Sarkisian said Monday. “We're in a unique situation. We've got two good guys. They play well, they played hard, they prepare. I think the team believes in both of them. That was evident from Week 1 against Louisiana and Week 2 against Arkansas. So we'll put ourselves in position to make sure that both those guys are in a position to excel.”

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, left, seen here watching Hudson Card throw during an open practice in August, lost out on the starting job before the season. After Card struggled in the loss at Arkansas, coach Steve Sarkisian named Thompson the starter for Saturday's game against Rice.

Outside the sheer decisiveness of the 19-point beatdown, the biggest surprise was Sarkisian sticking with Card after a scoreless first half. Thompson entered the game with 1:50 left in the third quarter and he led the Horns to a couple of scoring drives on his only two possessions. Over the last three games, dating back to the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado, he has quarterbacked 10 drives. Seven resulted in touchdowns, one in a field goal, one to run out the clock and one with a punt.

More:How the Texas Longhorns graded out in their 40-21 loss to Arkansas

That said, musical quarterbacks is rarely a recipe for success. When Sark’s ex boss Nick Saban went to Tua Tagovailoa to replace Jalen Hurts at halftime of the national title win against Georgia, it was an in-game adjustment to right the ship and it worked. Sarkisian went a different direction against Arkansas, choosing to give Card most of the third quarter to make some plays and it went down as a wasted opportunity.

This situation behind center feels fluid, and fluid doesn’t always work at that position. If you have two quarterbacks, the old adage goes, then you have none. That wasn’t the case with Joe Montana and Steve Young with the old San Francisco 49ers, but Texas doesn’t have a Montana or Young on its roster from first glance.

The worst possible scenario will be Texas fans conducting office pools at midseason to see who'll start each week moving forward. Without stability at quarterback, the whole thing is destined to fail.

So how long will it take to settle on one guy?

“I don't know how long it's gonna go, and that's part of it,” Sarkisian said. “It’s unfortunate because you like to know exactly what you are, but part of it is I kind of like it because they're making it hard and that that should be the characteristic of our team at every position that every week you just don't know because both guys are battling so hard. And so I appreciate that about both Casey and Hudson.”

Translation: One of you please step up so we can this thing rolling.

The Cleveland Browns and quarterback Baker Mayfield battled toe to toe with the Kansas City Chiefs, but at the end, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes prevailed. But Mayfield, out of Lake Travis High School, was electric for the first three quarters.

Mayfield, Mahomes battled: A pair of former Big 12 quarterbacks gave us a nice glimpse of how the AFC will be decided over the next decade.

Patrick Mahomes showed why he is already poised to surpass Len Dawson as the greatest quarterback in Kansas City Chiefs history at the tender age of 25, powering an incredible second-half comeback to turn back Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in a classic to open the season.

Mayfield was electric for the first three quarters. The Lake Travis royalty completed 21 of 28 passes for 321 yards. He dropped dimes all over Arrowhead Stadium for most of the game and if not for one ill-fated interception and a fumble on special teams, we would be talking about the Browns as the biggest threat to the Chiefs and the world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Come to think of it, they still are. It will take a near-perfect performance to beat the Chiefs. You know, something along the lines of what Tom Brady did in Super Bowl LV. Mayfield looked the part of a world beater at times and the Browns gave the Chiefs problems up front in the running game, but winning time produced Mahomes magic, something he has pulled out of his hat time and time again.

Yes, the Steelers went into Buffalo and pulled off a shocker against the Bills, who are a dark-horse pick to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since losing back-to-back title games to the Dallas Cowboys, but the Browns with those good running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and that defense led by monster edge Myles Garrett has a nice combination of youth and hunger that will make this postseason interesting.

Novak Djokovic cries as he sits on the bench during a changeover during the third set of Sunday's U.S. Open men's singles final loss to Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic was trying to become only the third male to win all four majors in the same calendar year.

Djokovic lost, but won fans: Novak Djokovic’s date with history didn’t go as planned. Daniil Medvedev had too much firepower in the U.S. Open final and the Djoker was denied a chance to join Rod Laver and Don Budge as the only men to win all four majors in the same calendar year.

The straight-sets loss wasn't even that close.

He missed out on the slam, but the fans showed him love he hadn’t experienced on the same level as his contemporaries Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic wept during the final changeover, partly because of coming so close only to fall short, but also because the cheers he heard weren’t always there in New York.

After the match, he said he was relieved the whole thing was over and expressed appreciation to the fans who finally showed him love.

“My heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive,” Djokovic said.

He will win two or three more before he hangs them up, and Medvedev’s post-match words will ring true. He’s the greatest to to ever do it.