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Longhorns Preparing for Louisiana, QB Battle Remains Undecided

Aaron Carrara

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The #21 Texas Longhorns will open the season against #23 Louisiana in a little over a week and for Steve Sarkisian, the prep work specific to beating the Ragin Cajuns at DKR has already started. Sarkisian is treating this week like a typical game week, with the team playing what he refers to as a "mock game" on Saturday.  The team will stay in a hotel on Friday like they typically do prior to Saturday home games and will have team meetings before heading to DKR on Saturday.

"We'll come to the stadium and do all of our pregame warmups and then we'll reenact a lot of those scenarios that happen in game from substitutions to injuries, potentially, things like that that guys are prepared for as backups, whether they're on offense, defense or special teams."

Throughout the duration of Fall Camp the offensive storyline has centered around the quarterback battle between junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card.  Despite reports that Card holds the reigns on the position and has taken the majority of snaps this week in practice, on Thursday, Sarkisian emphatically denied he has tabbed a starting quarterback.

"No I have not named one, so I guess there is nothing to be shared," said Sarkisian when asked by reporters.

Relative to the snap count, he clarified that things were being shared equally amongst the quarterbacks who are both making progress after a disappointing second week of camp.

"Well, quite frankly, the reps have been split 50/50 And, you know, half with the ones, half with the twos and I think probably they continue to build, you know."

Is there a strategic advantage for Sarkisian, who is widely regarded as an offensive mastermind, to keep his starting quarterback under wraps as long as possible in order to affect game-planning for the opposition?  According to Sarkisian, not really.

"I don't really, me personally I don't think it is much an advantage. I've never worried too much about it from the other side. You know if the players were drastically different style of players, if one guy was just a straight pocket passer, and the other guy was an elite runner, right, and maybe not as gifted of a passer, then you'd have to prepare for knowing which one is in the game. That might, might adjust your calling of the defense, you know, but, you know, I think most people have their schemes they run their schemes and have a game plan and they run the plan and to some degree."

When Sarkisian does make a decision on the starting quarterback for the season, there has been speculation that it could impact the future of the roster in the form of decision(s) to enter the transfer portal.  He stressed that his emphasis is on the team and not one specific player of group of players and says it would be imprudent to be bothered by that speculation.

"Well I can't, I can't worry about that, you know, I have to make decisions that are that are in the best interest of the entire football organization in our entire team. The moment you start worrying about the what ifs about one player. I think that's when you get hesitant in your decision making and you end up starting to make decisions that aren't in the best interest of your team..."

As far as opponents are concerned, the Longhorns could very well have their hands-full with the Ragin' Cajuns, who have won 10 games in each of their last two seasons. They return ten starters on both sides of the ball and are led by fifth year quarterback Levi Lewis, who is 24-4 as a starter.  Head coach Billy Napier assumed the reins of the Louisiana program following the 2017 season, and has taken the program to new heights.

  Sarkisian, who worked with Napier previously, spoke highly of his football acumen and the talent on the Cajuns' roster.

"Billy is a great football coach, a great football mind. You know I think he's very detailed. He's a tremendous offensive coach, but I think he's a really good head coach, you know. You can see it in their team they're well organized, they're efficient. They play sound. They play hard."

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I just don't think ULL is as good as everyone thinks. 2019 when they won 11, the best team they played was a 6-7 Miss St team and they lost to them. Their competition level just isn't very good. The Iowa St games was a fluke. Two returns for touchdowns against an underwhelmed, spring cancelled and Covid shortened fall camp Iowa St team won that game.

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