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Puzzle Pieces: Where the Longhorns Stand after Scrimmage #2

Aaron Carrara

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Photo: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman via Imagn Content Services, LLC

As the regular season inches closer, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff continue to give players reps in hopes of garnering some semblance of what a gameday roster might look like.  That process will start on Sunday according to Sarkisian, who along with his staff could have a draft of the offense, defense, special teams or all positions by early in the week.  While nothing is finite in that regard, it gives the team structure headed into what gameday preparation and practice might look like a week early.

Sarkisian shared information with reporters on Saturday after the team's second scrimmage and here are nuggets of what he said:

  • The offense played well, controlled the line of scrimmage, ran the ball well.
  • Defense started slow but progressed throughout the game.
  • The quarterbacks played well - both of them "had a nice day" according to Sarkisian.  They controlled the tempo of the game, completed passes and got the ball to players in space.
  • Card and Thompson both had good weeks of practice leading up to Saturday's scrimmage.  The coaches challenged both guys and they responded.
  • On what his standard is for the quarterbacks - "Well, I would say they played winning football today, and that's the standard right I mean, are they putting us in a position to win games and they did that in the first of all that starts with taking care of the ball."  Sark says managing the offense and taking advantage of opportunities when they are there are points #2 & #3 related to his standards.
  • On developing quarterbacks, Sark says the one thing he and his staff focus on is find the things the player does well and identify that throughout camp.  Whether it's play-action passes, formations, etc.  He reiterates that it isn't about what he (Sarkisian) does, its about focusing on the strengths that a player has. "It's what place do they operate the best and what plays are they the most comfortable with, and that's really what we try to do, and you know we're doing that now with with Casey and Hudson and as far as just recognizing the things that we think they do well, and putting them in position to do it."
  • WR Troy Omeire's knee injury was referred to a s a "subtle strain" by Sarkisian. Omeire is rehabbing the knee now and Sarkisian mentioned a week or two as a possible timetable for recovering.
  • On his timeline for naming a quarterback, Sarkisian says he doesn't want to act like he is neglecting it but stresses that both players have made it difficult for him to name a starter and both players are taking the coaching and working hard to improve every day.  Says he will review tape this week and evaluate performances in certain situations and look at concerns he has on each guy.
  • A quote on the quarterbacks:  "You know I've always said, we're probably in a better position at the quarterback position than a lot of people, because I really believe we have two guys that can play. Now, I believe in having a starter and having a backup and, but then when you know, I've got a backup that can play at a high level, and operate our offense, the way we want to operate. That's really a luxury for us because there's a lot of teams that maybe have a returning starter who's a frontline guy, but their backup may not be very capable." 
  • Things Sarkisian feels really good about right now:  The depth at running back, the depth on the defensive line and the special team unit.  He mentions Roschon Johnson, Keilan Robinson and the emergence of Jonathan Brooks contributing to luxury of the RB position.
  • The final two weeks before the opener against Louisiana will be in prep mode for the Ragin' Cajuns.  The team will move into the South End Zone at DKR on Monday and practices will be in game-week format.
  • WR Jaden Alexis was the only player that didn't finish the scrimmage due to a knee injury.  He is being evaluated.  Sarkisian says they are "relatively healthy as a team."
  • Sark says the tight end position is almost as valuable as the QB position to him because in his offense he asks a lot of them. They have an extensive role in his system and he emphasizes the need for his TE's to be physical, smart and athletic.
  • "If I had to give you a player of the game, it would probably be Josh Moore after today's scrimmage." -- Steve Sarkisian
  • The wide receivers are getting a lot of reps and a lot of opportunity.  Sarkisian and Andre Coleman are looking for continuity and rapport with the QB in their guys, which are getting better as the passing game shows.
  • On the after-5 players on the OL and who are stepping up their game, Sark mentions Andrej Karic, Hayden Connor, Tope Imade.  He stressed that all players get reps in practice but some guys are starting to separate themselves from others.
  • On the new NIL opportunities with the Brandr group that launched group licensing for student-athletes, Sarkisian credited President Jay Hartzell and AThletic Director Chris Del Conte for their leadership and support of the school's student athletes. " I think our players are very appreciative that the university is continually trying to find ways to take advantage of the opportunities there for them. And this is just another example of that. And, you know, the fact that they're able to do that with Jersey sales, different things, again, I think it's a credit to the university and the leadership that we have but also I think your players appreciate it as well and have a really good relationship with the leadership of your university."
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