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Texas coach Steve Sarkisian goes in-depth on quarterback battle at Big 12 media days

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian made his first appearance at Big 12 media days on Thursday in Arlington at AT&T Stadium.

ARLINGTON — Texas coach Steve Sarkisian made his first appearance at Big 12 media days on Thursday, and of course, the questions focused on all the major topics.

Who will be the new starting quarterback? 

How long should Texas fans wait for a championship?

“First of all, welcome,” Sarkisian said on the stage at AT&T Stadium. “It’s great to have a full-fledge Big 12 media day. It’s exciting. It’s exciting that football’s back. It’s exciting that we’re going to have full stadiums again and players are going to play in front of their friends, family and whatnot, which I think is tremendous for the sport, tremendous for our fan bases.”

As for the quarterback situation, Sarkisian went into spring practice giving Casey Thompson and Hudson Card an equal shot. By the end of spring, it appeared Thompson had nudged ahead.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson has played in seven games the last two seasons after redshirting in 2018.

“When I took over the job. I gave everybody a clean slate in our program,” Sarkisian said. “Clearly being the quarterback position — my opinion, the most important position in sports — we have two fantastic players, Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. 

“So we went through installing our offense in winter,” he continued. “We got 15 spring practices in. We’ve had a chance to visit post-spring and the things that we need to work on here to the summer, and then we’re going to head into training camp. And I just didn't feel like 15 practices was enough to name a guy a starter in a brand new system, a brand new scheme with brand new coaches.

“I will say it is a little bit of a luxury for me to have two quality quarterbacks like this,” Sarkisian added. “Casey Thompson is a guy who's been in the program a little bit longer. Everybody remembers what he did the Alamo Bowl, throwing touchdown passes in the second half. Very athletic guy, very driven, very focused, high football IQ, great leader. Hudson Card, tremendous passing ability, great instincts and of passing the football. So we're in a good position. 

Texas quarterback Hudson Card attempts to throw during the team's scrimmage on Saturday, April 17.

“But at some point, training camp, I'm going to have to trust my gut and I've got to name the starter. And when we do, it's not going to be because the other guy gave the job up. They're going to make it tough on me, and that's what I told them. You guys need to make this decision as hard as you can on me, because I name one guy the starter doesn't we don't need the other one. The other guy's a play away. In this day and age of college football, to think you're going to go 13 or 14 games all the way throughout the season with one quarterback probably isn't realistic. So we need to develop both of them. Both have huge upside. I love coaching them, and I think we're in good hands at that position.”

Texas had only two players named to the preseason All-Big 12 team — running back Bijan Robinson and cornerback D’Shawn Jamison. Robinson and defensive tackle Keondre Coburn were in attendance Thursday to represent the Horns.

In various radio, TV and print interviews, Sarkisian was asked different variations on how long it would take for Texas to reach championship status. His two predecessors, Charlie Strong and Tom Herman, couldn’t get UT over the hump. Texas has made only one appearance in the Big 12 title game over the last seven seasons.

“The point I’ve been trying to make is focus on us and what we’re doing, and not necessarily what didn’t work before but what are we going to do to make it work this time,” Sarkisian said. “The point of all that is we can’t sit back and relax and think because we got a great stadium, because have great resources, because we've got the five-star and four-star players that we just sprinkle a little magical fairy dust and all of a sudden we're a really good football program.

“Winning is hard,” Sarkisian added. “Winning takes work. It takes perseverance, it takes grit. It takes great teamwork and great leaders and great teammates and an awesome culture, and those are all the things that we're working on to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to be as successful as it can be, not even just for the short term but for the long term.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.