Texas quarterback Hudson Card gets another chance, but the Longhorns are still slumping
The always-positive Card believes Horns will still fight: ‘I think everyone in the locker room is sticking together’
AMES, Iowa — Texas coach Steve Sarkisian was looking for something, anything, to shake things up Saturday night against Iowa State. He was pushing buttons, pulling levers. Every fuse was blown.
Nothing worked in the 30-7 loss, not even going to backup quarterback Hudson Card.
“We’ve got to find a way to get our players in position to perform when the ballgame gets kicked off,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously tonight, our inability to do that showed itself, and we got beat. And that’s unfortunate.”
The Longhorns (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) have a lot of problems. Quarterback is not at the top of the list. But it was clear that starter Casey Thompson was off, missing receivers and completing only 2 of 6 passes for 2 yards before the switch.
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At this point, it’s unclear whether Card or Thompson will start next Saturday against Kansas (1-8, 0-6).
“Obviously, I want to play,” Card said. “But I was just waiting for my opportunity and for Coach Sark. And I was trying to prepare like the starter, even as the backup. But I just want what's best for the team, and I want that going forward as well.”
Texas simply did not play winning football in Ames, though.
Running back Bijan Robinson fumbled on the game’s second play, and Texas went three-and-out on its next three drives. That’s when Sarkisian went to Card with 2 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter as Iowa State led 3-0.
On Card’s second drive, he hit Joshua Moore in traffic for a 24-yard gain. That got the Horns moving. Robinson and Roschon Johnson went to work on the ground. Card picked up a critical first down around the right end with a hard-earned 3 yards on third-and-3.
He got credit for a touchdown pass when Xavier Worthy scored on a 4-yard jet sweep. The Horns were up 7-3, and the home crowd was restless.
But once the second half began, the Horns’ offense lost all punch. Texas punted on four straight possessions. Robinson lost another fumble — the first two of his career. And the game ended. Texas never got closer than the Iowa State 38-yard line after the break.
“We just weren’t in rhythm offensively at all, especially in the passing game,” Sarkisian said of the quarterback change. “I felt like we needed a spark. I thought Hud deserved the opportunity to go. Once we got going with Hud and got going there late, I was just more of the mindset of let him play it out.”
Card finished the night with 14 completions on 23 attempts for 101 yards. He was sacked four times. But offensive coaches will turn on the film and see his happy feet in the pocket. He didn’t pull the trigger quickly enough at times, either.
Card showed he still needs work.
Asked if he thought about going back to Thompson, Sarkisian said, “It did cross my mind but ultimately stayed with Hudson.”
For their part, Thompson and Card have long maintained a solid friendship. At one point, Card came off the field and stood next to Thompson while phoning upstairs to coaches in the press box. Thompson stood there, listened to the back and forth, and then talked with Card about how to help.
“Casey’s a great player and a great friend of mine,” Card said. “When I would come to the sideline, he would kind of tell me what he saw and try to help out. It’s a healthy relationship.”
It’s been a rough-and-tumble time the last seven days for the Texas offense. Moore had some kind of verbal altercation with coaches during Wednesday’s practice. Then he made just two catches on three targets for 32 yards.
In addition to Robinson’s two fumbles, he suffered a sprained neck. X-rays were negative after the game, according to a team spokesman. Sarkisian said he would have an update Monday.
The offensive line allowed five sacks, and the running game managed just 104 yards on 35 attempts.
And now Sarkisian is back to facing a quarterback decision for the final three regular-season games.
“I trust the guys in this locker room. I trust this coaching staff. That’s something we can’t lose sight of,” Card said. “We’re just going to have to learn from it and try to get better. But I think everyone in the locker room is sticking together.
“Just trying to block out everything else and really focus on ourselves,” the perpetually optimistic athlete from Lake Travis said. “Just fight through adversity. That’s the only thing you can do when times get rough, so that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to continue to fight.”
Kansas at Texas, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU, 104.9