- May 29, 2001
“The biggest thing we're looking for is a level of consistency. I think naturally, especially when people come to the spring game, they're looking for the wow plays. The wow plays are dangerous plays if you don't play consistently because they can distract you from maybe some mishaps along the way. We look for consistency. We look for doing what you're asked to do, consistently doing your job down after down, after down. And then those plays, those wow-type plays, naturally occur. We didn't try to force those things today. We just wanted to see and manage the offense that they were charged to manage and see how consistently we could play. I think we definitely have some room to grow in that area as we go into the summer and into fall camp.”
Steve Sarkisian on Saturday talking about the quarterback position.
If I were either Casey Thompson or Hudson Card, I paid very close attention to the words that came out of Sarkisian's mouth yesterday because it seemed like a very obvious message for both.
The peaks don't matter nearly as much as the valleys.
When it comes to Thompson, his sublime performance in the Alamo Bowl four months ago isn't going to cut it. Neither will the spectacular plays that he's capable of when he's at his best outside of the pocket on the move. Those things will take a back seat to not being able to consistently hit the third-and-six throw within the flow of the offense.
When it comes to Card, the truth is the same. Yes, his touchdown throw to Marcus Washington was a thing of beauty, giving everyone a glimpse of what a five-star quarterback talent looks like. Yet, that talent will take a back seat to inexperience if he can't continue to mature and grow his play at the position ahead of most young quarterbacks’ timetables.
Perhaps the best part of Saturday is that everyone got to see a fairly accurate portrayal of the position as it actually stands.
There really hasn't been separation. While Casey Thompson oozes more confidence and maturity, he lacks Card's natural consistency inside of the pocket when it comes to the standard throws a quarterback is expected to make inside of Sarkisian's offense. Yet, when it comes to Card, he lacks Thompson's readiness as a player. If you could add the two together so that the weaknesses of both could be offset by each's strengths, you'd have one hell of a player RIGHT NOW.
If the issues surrounding both players remain unchanged in the coming months, Sarkisian will have to decide which flaw he can live with the most - making accurate throws or maturity.
Will it simply come down to which inconsistency can improve quicker during the month of September?
If I'm Thompson or Card, I'm determined that this question isn't one the head coach has to consider heavily in the middle of August.
(A few more thoughts on the quarterback position with 24 hours to marinate on what we watched...)
1. Thompson's 54.8-percent completion percentage on 42 throws simply isn't good enough. Yes, he had a couple of drops, but there were also times when he struggled to stick throws from the pocket on downs and distances that required him to stick throws. Throughout camp, his consistency when throwing the football has been his biggest obstacle and you could see it in the spring game. That he completed less than 50-percent of his passes in the final three quarters of the game flashed a light on the area where he most needs to improve.
2. I really would have liked to have seen what Card could have done with the best offensive personnel surrounding him. Without sounding too much like the President of the Card Fan Club (which I am), I found it kind of impressive that he found a way to complete 60 percent of his throws on Saturday when you consider he had at least four drops from his receivers that I can remember, had an offensive line that was allowing constant pressure and didn't have much in the way of a running game with Roschon Johnson (a modest 7 carries for 28 yards).
3. While everyone will remember this throw by Card until the players arrive in August...
It was actually this throw from earlier in the drive that I believe Sark will like even more. Nice and easy pitch and catch from one hash mark to the other side of the field in a place where the defense cannot defend it.
No. 2 - Most underrated aspect of the Spring Game...
On a day when the Texas defenses recorded nine sacks, changed the game with a pick-six at the end of the first half and limited the Texas offense to two offensive touchdowns in four quarters of action, the thing that stood out to me about Pete Kwiatkowski's unit the most was probably something far more subtle than any of the headlines from Saturday.
Kwiatkowski's unit was very technically sound, which is no easy accomplishment when you consider that this group of defensive players are going through its third defensive coordinator in the last 16 months. For all of the talk of the offensive coordinator turnover in this program since 2011, the defensive side of the ball is going through a transformation from Todd Orlando in 2019, Chris Ash in 2020 and now Kwiatkowski in 2021.
It would have been perfectly understandable if the unit looked like a major work in progress, but the truth of the matter is that you walked in off the street and knew nothing about the ins and outs of the program, you'd likely never guess that Kwiatkowski has only had 15 practices with this bunch.
The defense tackled well as a whole. The back end of the defense covered well and almost always seemed to keep everything in front of it outside of the first drive of the game. At every layer of the defense, things just felt incredibly sound.
While it remains to be seen whether this team has enough playmakers on the defensive side of the ball to be a difference-making unit, the foundation for a very solid defense appears to be in place.
I'd imagine Kwiatkowski will come out of the spring feeling very good about where his side of the ball is headed.
No. 3 - The wide receiver room...
Honestly, it's pretty damn obvious why Steve Sarkisian used one of his last remaining slots for the 25-man 2021 recruiting/transfer class to bring in a player (Xavier Worthy) at a position where the team is practically bleeding from the overflow of numbers at the position.
Here's a snapshot audit of the scholarship receivers on the roster this spring, separated into several different tiers.
Definitely in Sark's 2021 plans...
1. Jordan Whittington (Sophomore): The single highest-rated recruit on the roster (High four star, No.33 in the nation in the 2019 Rivals rankings) at this position is also the team's best player among the group. Although he still has to prove that he can survive a 12-game college schedule, there's hope that he could emerge as an All-Big 12 level player in 2021.
2. Troy Omeire (Freshman): It said a lot to me that Sarkisian was eager to push Omeire into Saturday's scrimmage when it would have been easy to simply sit him down until the fall, but it also said a lot about the position that he felt he needed to.
3. Joshua Moore (Junior): I'm a member of the Moore Fan Club, but it is mystifying that he hasn't somewhat emerged from the pack a little more when you consider that he has 10 career touchdown receptions in 16 career games. The kid is both capable of the spectacular and a disappearing act. I'm not sure that Sarkisian is expecting the former as much as he wants to rid him of the latter.
4. Kai Money (Junior): If it is third and 7, Money will get you 7 yards. If it's third and 17, Money is likely going to get you 7 yards. There's no shame in being a bankable and trusted situational receiver and while Money might not have starting upside, he'll play this season because he's probably the second-most dependable receiver on Sarkisian's roster at the moment.
Potentially in Sark's 2021 plans...
5. Jaden Alexis (Freshman): The player that has the most to be worried about with the arrival of Worthy in the fall is Alexis, who has as much burst and explosiveness as anyone on the current roster, but as a young player hasn't quite been able to carve out a true role in the offense as Worthy is about to hit campus. It's really important to note that he was on the Orange roster, which means he's mostly thought of as a first-team player at this point... by default. It feels like Worthy (10.55 in the 100 meters) will be directly competing for playing time with Alexis (10.75 in the 100 meters) when he arrives and it'll be up to Alexis to perform at a level that keeps him ahead of a true freshman Sarkisian is going to want to play right away.
6. Jake Smith (Junior): I have to be honest when I say that my expectations for Smith in Austin this season are at the found money stage of the proceedings. If he can stay healthy and make a solid contribution... fantastic. If he can't stay healthy or carve out a role or transfers... it'll kind of be expected. There's a very good player inside of Smith just dying to break out, but it hasn't come together for him yet and the worst thing that can happen to a player with a new coach is to become unavailable.
7. Kelvontay Dixon (Freshman): Dixon has the athleticism and explosiveness to emerge as a threat in this offense, as we're talking about a kid with 10.7-10.8 100-meter speed and in the very last game we've seen him play, he went 73 yards for a touchdown. Yet, Dixon didn't have a camp where he was constantly creating buzz and he was one of the only players at the position that played on Saturday, but didn't catch a pass. Maybe the kid is simply a season or two away, but there's no reason to give up on him.However, his reality is that he's going to need to be better than Worthy and Alexis to get on the field.
I just don't know...
8. Al'Vonte Woodard (Junior): Personally, I thought Woodard flashed in a positive way in the spring game. He's a big-bodied receiver at 6-2, 206 pounds, who doesn't quite have the physical gifts of a Brennan Eagles, but can be a productive short- and intermediate target over the middle. On paper, it feels like he's competing for snaps with Money for playing time in three- or four- situational receiver sets.
9. Marcus Washington (Junior): Like Woodard, Washington is a 6-2 receiver without true game-changing athletic tools. He feels like a potentially serviceable player, but he didn't play at all against Oklahoma or Oklahoma State in 2020 and when he did play, he wasn't able to prove he warranted keeping on the field. I'm not sure how much his role is going to change between now and when the season starts unless there are multiple injuries.
10. Dajon Harrison (Freshman): See Kelvontay Dixon.
11. Montrell Estelle (Senior): It pains me to say this because I loved Estelle when he came out of Hooks a half-decade ago, but it just hasn't happened for him and it still doesn't look like it's happening for him.
No. 4 - About that OU Spring game ...
In case you were wondering about the enemy, here are some notes from the OU Spring Game/Practices (full SoonerScoop.com report)
... Spencer Rattler is absolutely locked in as the starting quarterback going into his second season as a starter. His modest spring game numbers (six of 14 for 116 yards) don't reflect the general attitude about him inside of the program, which suggests that everyone believes he's on the cusp of emerging into one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He's the best quarterback in the Big 12 going into the season.
... Tennessee transfer Eric Gray already looks like a guy that will be a pain in the butt for OU opponents.
... The offensive line is a major work in progress. The OU coaches probably like their overall depth of players to choose from a little more than the Texas coaches would probably view their own group, but they dealt with a lot of the same issues as the Texas OL did this spring, as they consistently took some Ls against a good OU defensive line.
... While one former five-star receiver in Trejan Bridges was unavailable because of suspension, another former five-star receiver was returning to the field from an injury last season. Remember Jaden Haselwood's name.
... OU folks really, really like this defense. The vibe is that the defensive line might be the best they've had in a while and there are potential playmakers on every level of the defense. Maybe it's fool's gold or maybe that side of the ball is turning a corner for them... but folks are excited about that side of the ball.
... Former Texas commitment Billy Bowman played a lot in the spring game and the general vibe is that he's going to play a lot as a true freshman.
No. 5 - Close, but no cigar...
It's a hell of a thing to be truly great, but second-best next to someone else that is standing right next to you.
In watching the Texas volleyball team lose to Kentucky on Saturday night in the NCAA Championship Final, it was an unmistakable truth that you couldn't run from.
Despite losing in four sets, the Longhorns didn't play poorly. Not even close. Logan Eggleston and Skyler Fields did the damn thing. It's just that Kentucky's Alli Stumler was better on this night. The entire Kentucky team... just a little bit better.
Truth be told - Texas just blinked a few times on Saturday night and it was enough to be the difference in two very close sets to end the match. The next time they get into this position, the team can't blink. Against a team playing as well as Kentucky, the baby blinks can be all the margin between winning and losing.
It goes that way at the highest levels of competition. Gonzaga learned that harsh lesson as well just a few weeks ago in the men’s basketball final. Getting to the top of the mountaintop is no easy feat and considering the Longhorns have lost the NCAA Final five times in the last 12 years, it's not a reality that needs to be explained to Jerritt Elliott.
The good news is that almost everyone on this team returns.
"We're winning next year," Eggleston said after the game. "That's how we're all feeling. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you end the season with a loss. We're coming back stronger next year. There's a lot of blood boiling, and we're ready to go."
No. 6 - The streak ends at 16 games...
While Sunday's loss in Stillwater was disappointing because there were wide-spread hopes that Texas baseball would just never lose again, taking two out of three on the road in conference play is almost always a job well done in the world of college baseball and this weekend wasn't any different.
In face, the loss in Stillwater looks pretty good in comparison to the 2-1 loss that TCU suffered at home against Kansas on Sunday.
Two weeks away from the three-game showdown in Ft. Worth that will likely decide the Big 12 regular-season championship, the Longhorns and Horned Frogs are both 12-3 through 15 games.
On to next week...
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
(Buy) I think we're both kind of where we've been, although Anwar might have taken a couple of steps towards me on Saturday.Ketch is still Team Card and Anwar is still Team Thompson
(Buy) If we're talking about an Alabama-level offense when we say "Sark" offense, yeah, the Jimmys and the Joes matter a lot.The defense will be good to very good, while the offense will still frustrate us at times, Sark will need two recruiting cycles before we see a true “Sark” offense at Texas
(Sell) I'm still not quite sure that the defense is full of the kind of playmakers needed to make that kind of claim.Texas has the best defense in 10 years?
(Buy) Tie almost always goes to the younger, more talented player.If the QB battle is as close as it was yesterday, Texas should go Card due to his long term upside?
(Sell) Plan for the worst, hope for the best.The QB competition will be close enough to keep both players here this fall.
(Sell) I feel exactly the same about it.You came out of the spring game more positive about the potential fall results that you were before the game?
(Buy) Yup.+100K for the Lousiana game?
(Sell) I'm not there yet. You better put some respect on Michael Dickson's name.Bijan is the best player since Colt to put on the Texas uniform.
(Sell) I don't believe there will be nearly that kind of attrition.More than 25% of this roster will not be here in the fall?
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the weekend...
... Maalik Murphy is a man of the people.
... Hang in there, Steve McMichael. Maybe we should put together a thread full of well-wishes from Orangebloods and try to get them to him? Sounds like too good of an idea to not even try.
... Kyle Shanahan has to draft Justin fields at No.3, right? Right?
... As we get closer to the Draft, I'm thinking Jaycee Horn over Patrick Surtain II at No.10, but I can't exactly tell you why. I'd love to see Joseph Ossai as a day two pick.
... Everything about this was good.
... We're not going to get it this year, but sometime soon we need a Luka/Lakers playoff series.
..,. It's probably time to start talking about Kamaru Usman's historical place in the UFC after Saturday night. He hit Jorge Masvidal so hard that he made him spit like he was The Great Kabuki. Four TKOs in his last 5 fights have made him must-see TV.
... Things just never worked out for Chris Weidman the way that I thought they would in the UFC. It just felt like he went from champion to a guy that would go on to lose six of his last eight fights in the blink of an eye. The game changes so fast in the UFC.
... I'm so ready for this Premier League season to be over with.
... On the other hand, I'm enjoying Austin FC through two games. Yes, I most certainly did watch the game on ESPN+ on Saturday night.
No. 9 - The List: Al Pacino Top 10
One of the greatest living actors in the world turned 81 on Sunday, which seemed like an awesome time to both remind everyone that this scene from Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill actually happened, while also doing a list of his top 10 performances.
No, his donut rap game from 2011 didn't quite make the list.
Let's get to it.
10. Lucifer (The Devil's Advocate)
9. Tony D'Amato (Any Given Sunday)
8. Frank Serpico (Serpico)
7. Carlito Brigante (Carlito's Way)
6. Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Scent of a Woman)
5. Vincent Hanna (Heat)
4. Tony Montana (Scarface)
3. Sonny Wortzik (Dog Day Afternoon)
2. Michael Corleone (The Godfather I)
1. Michael Corleone (The Godfather II)
No. 10 - And Finally ...
The power of Orangebloods was showcased again this past week in our quest to generate $25,000 for the newly minted JimsTexas scholarship fund at The University of Texas.
After five days of auctions, we've surpassed $27,000 overall, which means that with the help of the board he loved so much, we hit our first-year goal. At the same time, we also helped our dear friend Robert Hurst considerably with regards to the funds he's raising in his current battle with cancer.
I say it all the time, and we might put the dysfunction in dysfunctional, but no place rallies for a good cause like Orangebloods. This place comes through every time.