Listen to Austin 360 Radio

After first scrimmage, Sarkisian on Texas QBs: ‘Neither guy played up to the standard that I view as acceptable’

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian was excited about the defense during Saturday's closed scrimmage, but he said the offense needs to improve.

Texas’ Casey Thompson said coach Steve Sarkisian compares playing quarterback to driving on the NASCAR circuit.

“You have to find that threshold of how fast or slow you can go and turn that corner,” Thompson said earlier in the week. “If you don’t try it in practice, you’ll never know for the game.”

Saturday’s first scrimmage inside Royal-Memorial Stadium must’ve featured some pileups and fender benders in the turns. Sarkisian sure liked what he saw from the defense. But as for the quarterbacks, “Neither guy played up to the standard that I view as acceptable, and I think what they view as acceptable.”

Related:By teaching concepts, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian can lean into a ‘positionless’ passing game

Sarkisian said Thompson had one turnover, an interception on a late throw in a scramble situation. Hudson Card had no turnovers. No statistics were released to reporters, which is common after these closed intrasquad scrimmages.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, passing at practice last weekend, threw an interception on a scramble during Saturday's scrimmage, but no other statistics were released.

Sarkisian said both players had good first weeks. “And then all of a sudden go to a scrimmage format, and we didn’t apply the things we had done all week long,” he said. “And that’s the key to the drill.

“The key to the drill is applying the preparation to the performance, and we were too inconsistent at doing that today,” Sarkisian said. “So both guys going into next week have got to take the practice reps and then ultimately apply it to the scrimmage next Saturday.”

Related:Casey Thompson, Hudson Card discuss their thought process on Texas’ QB battle

Usually, the defense is ahead of the offense this early in preseason practice. Sarkisian praised cornerback Anthony Cook along with fellow defensive backs Brenden Schooler and D’Shawn Jamison. Edge rusher Ovie Oghoufo’s aggressiveness also stood out.

But Sarkisian, a lifelong quarterback who has made his career from teaching the position, seemed noticeably disappointed in his two best pupils. Most coaches would normally go through a two-hour scrimmage and then declare publicly that all is well. Not Sark.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern,” Sarkisian said. “The reality of it is I’m probably harder on that position than from any other position on the field from a coaching perspective. We demand a lot from them, and we’re not going to settle. We’re going to keep pushing them to be the best so we can be the best. So I have to find that right threshold with him to find where their ceiling is right now.”

Related:'He absolutely loves the game': Westlake's Connor Robertson joins Texas football's 2022 recruiting class

Sarkisian compared it to learning how to ride a bike.

“Like a parent, teaching your kid to ride a bike at some point, you’ve got to let go of the seat, and they might fall. But that’s OK; we’ve got to get them back up, we’ve got to get back on the bike, and we’ve got to let them learn to ride again.”

So what position groups are doing well?

Sarkisian highlighted the defensive line, led by tackle Keondre Coburn and veterans Jacoby Jones and Moro Ojomo. He likes the plethora of running backs and tight ends, too.

Asked about the receivers, Sarkisian said, “I thought we played OK, quite frankly, at wideout today, and we need to be better. I didn’t think we played with quite the sense of urgency that we're accustomed to playing with.”

Maybe the inconsistent quarterback play had something to do with it. “Clearly that aspect of our game isn’t where it needs to be yet,” the coach said.

Sarkisian said the first-team units faced off against each other early in practice, the second-team units faced their counterparts, and the third-teamers did the same. It was a nice and hot Saturday afternoon; Texas will open the season Sept. 4 against Louisiana at 3:30 p.m.

And, hey, from the positivity department, “Knock on wood, we’re actually doing pretty good from an injury standpoint.”

Scrimmages are just that — scrimmages. Maybe it means something about where Texas is headed, maybe not. 

What any coach ultimately wants is consistency. The Longhorns just aren’t there yet.

“The fact that we played good defense is encouraging,” Sarkisian said. “I thought we saw flashes from the offense. But we’re going to need more going forward.”

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