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Bohls: Steve Sarkisian clearly needs to figure out Texas' quarterback options for 2022

  • Steve Sarkisian needs to figure out his best quarterback options for 2022 in this dismal season.
  • Hudson Card ought to start the three remaining regular-season games.
  • Sarkisian said improving the passing game is "a point of emphasis this week."

Quarterback is in a quandary.

Kind of like the rest of this 4-5 Texas football team. Austin has become Quandary Central.

The guess here is Hudson Card will start over Casey Thompson against Kansas on Saturday. And he should.

Texas quarterbacks Hudson Card, left, and Casey Thompson chat during pregame warmups before the Rice game at Royal-Memorial Stadium in September. Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian said he'll name a starter for this week's game on Thursday.

If nothing else in this baffling season, first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian needs to settle on a starter for 2022. And that’s assuming he isn’t already considering going with top-notch quarterback commitment Maalik Murphy or isn’t entertaining inviting a new quarterback out of the transfer portal.

Hey, Spencer Rattler, what’s up?

Alabama third-stringer, you tired of waiting?

Hey Cade Klubnik, you haven’t signed on the dotted line with Clemson yet, right?

More:Bohls: If Casey Thompson struggles versus Iowa State, Hudson Card deserves a look

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian made the decision to bench Hudson Card in favor of Casey Thompson after Card struggled in the second game of the season at Arkansas. Now he may reverse that decision and go with Card for Saturday's home game against Kansas.

It’s possible Murphy could win the job outright as a true freshman. He’s 6-4 and change and 225 pounds. He’s been offered by every team from Alabama to Ohio State to Florida to Texas A&M and 27 other schools.

Evaluators rave about his strong arm, his improved release and his touch on deep balls. But would he have enough seasoning and maturity to start as a freshman? 

Maybe Sarkisian will be open to taking another FBS team’s quarterback on the rebound. There are bound to be a bunch in the portal this offseason.

Or maybe his 2022 quarterback is already on campus.

Regardless, it’s imperative that Sarkisian knows what he’s got under center. Or behind center. 

Column continues below gallery

Thompson has had his chance. The fourth-year junior, who has another season of eligibility, has looked everything from solid to subpar. He was a wonder in that first half against Oklahoma, a game where he threw for 388 yards and five touchdowns. Then he made people wonder when he was below-average against both TCU (still a win) and against Baylor (a loss with crucial drops from his receivers).

But he has had seven starts and split them with three wins and four losses. And the victories came against Rice, Texas Tech and TCU, three teams who are a collective 12-15 as well as 6-11 in their respective conferences. The four defeats came at the hands of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State — three away from home — who are a combined 30-6 as the top four teams in the Big 12.

Maybe Thompson isn’t good enough to beat the best teams although the OU game was more the fault of the Texas defense than the quarterback. He's ninth in the Big 12 in passing yardage, and even Sarkisian has conceded the Longhorns must get much more out of that aerial attack.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson was demoted in Ames after the offense had a fumble and then three three-and-outs. Hudson Card finished the game for the Longhorns in the 30-7 loss.

More:Golden: Texas bottoms out in Ames — and things might not get better for a while

“Casey has played against some pretty good defenses the last three weeks in Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State,” Sarkisian said. “Those are three pretty quality teams. We haven’t been efficient enough in getting the (easy) completions that we don’t have to work that hard for. Now it’s not all on the quarterback, and it’s easy to point to the guy who throws it. But if you want to be a balanced team, you’ve got to find that consistency.”

Card, a redshirt freshman, was the surprise pick as Texas’ starter in August, but that lasted just two games. He threw for a pair of touchdowns to beat Louisiana in the opener but looked unsure of himself and tentative in that beatdown in Fayetteville when he completed just eight of 15 passes and was sacked three times.

Thompson took over late — too late — in that game and started every game since.

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Thompson was benched after four totally ineffective series in last Saturday's 30-7 loss — or was it 300-7 — at Iowa State, and Card came on to lead a scoring drive before being totally ineffective in the second half.

They’ve got the totally ineffective part down pat.

Thompson’s completing 63% of his passes and Card 61%. Thompson’s had six passes picked off, one for a touchdown, while Card’s had none. But Thompson has thrown 17 touchdowns to Card’s three, albeit in twice as many pass attempts.

Thompson has barely been used as a runner, which has been a mistake. He showed how dangerous he can be as a part-time running threat against Baylor.

Sarkisian did not name a starter on Monday.

“We’re going to evaluate that this week,” Sarkisian said in his press conference. “There are plenty of things to evaluate. We have to evaluate Casey’s thumb because that did have an impact on him during the ball game. I’ll have an answer for you on Thursday.”

He needs an answer for himself by December.

When asked if Thompson had even practiced Monday morning, senior tight end Cade Brewer said, “I probably shouldn’t speak on that.”

Has the thumb Thompson bruised against the Sooners been bothering him?

“I’m sure it has,” Brewer said, “but I don’t know.”

Of course, if it has been a big issue, why would Sarkisian continue to put him out there with the setback?

It may be a moot point. Neither quarterback has been consistently good this season, and in a year when the margin for winning is razor-thin, Texas just has to get more production out of that position.

And if not, well, Sarkisian needs to know that, too. Sooner than later.