What to watch for in the Orange-White game

AUSTIN — Spring games tend not to offer a lot of reveals, especially not when they’re televised for all to see.

Saturday’s Orange-White spring game at the Royal-Memorial Stadium is unlikely to break that mould. It will be less like a simulation of a regular season contest and more like an extended Texas scrimmage with a few added wrinkles to liven up the night for fans heading out.

“Unfortunately I wish nobody showed up with a camera and you didn’t have your phones and we didn’t put it on TV so we could really show a lot of the stuff we do,” coach Steve said. Sarkisian after training on Thursday. “But these days everyone wants to watch and see what we’re going to do, so we’ll probably be pretty vanilla on Saturday night.”

Sarkisian expects the scrum to last around 100 games. This will lead to a red zone competition designed to deliver a “winner” before all is said and done.

As the Longhorns prepare to wrap up spring training, here’s what to watch for in Saturday’s scrimmage.

About the event

What: Orange/white spring set.

To start up: 6 p.m. Saturday.

TV: NHL.


Will the quarterback’s performance reveal anything?

Don’t read anything about who runs the first snap under center.

Third-year quarterback Hudson Card and redshirt freshman transfer Quinn Ewers split reps with starters throughout their spring competition. Neither made a drastic move to distance themselves from the other through 14 practices.

“I like where this position is today compared to where we were a year ago,” Sarkisian said. “I just think we’re at a place right now where we’re playing really good positional football. I think sometimes we have to be a little better with them, but that’s part of growing up.

Given how limited play calls will be on both sides of the ball, this scrum won’t reveal much about who really thrives in Sarkisian’s system. But that should at least allow Ewers to show his cannon, and Card will have the opportunity to display some of the growth he’s achieved after a tough second season.

Can anyone access the QB?

Texas was one of the worst defensive teams in the nation last season. There were issues all over coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense, many of which stemmed from a lack of consistent pressure up front.

All quarterbacks will wear non-contact jerseys, and Texas still has a handful of high-level offensive linemen arriving this summer, so Saturday won’t paint the clearest picture of the Longhorns pass rush. right now. Still, it will be interesting to see how the defensive linemen and edge rushers have developed, especially senior T’Vondre Sweat, junior Alfred Collins, redshirt second Vernon Broughton and second Byron Murphy.

“Byron Murphy is a problem,” Sarkisian said. “The guy is so strong, so quick and powerful. I think two guys who made a move but I know we all want them to keep going are Vernon Broughton and Alfred Collins. These two guys have one to make us feel a little different when they’re really on point. And T’Vondre Sweat, he’s great against the run but has pass-rush ability.

Which newcomers are in line to start?

Start with Wyoming transfer receiver Isaiah Neyor. Sarkisian has repeatedly praised the 6-foot-3 sweetheart this offseason, all but confirming him as a starter alongside sophomore All-America prospect Xavier Worthy and junior wide receiver Jordan Whittington.

On the other side of the ball, Ohio State transfer cornerback Ryan Watts is trending up, and first-liner defenseman Judge Finkley has started to get strong. The latter is a real long-time starter, but he could become an important rotational piece even as a true freshman.

What is the future of the backfield?

Star junior Bijan Robinson is managing a minor ankle sprain and will be “limited” on Saturday, according to Sarkisian. Senior halfback Roschon Johnson probably doesn’t need too many touches either.

That should allow flamboyant junior Keilan Robinson, redshirt freshman Jonathon Brooks and first-timer Jaydon Blue to handle a meatier load of shots. Keilan Robinson is enticing on his own, but it’s Brooks and Blue who are looming as the post-Bijan future of the Texas backfield.

Brooks was effective in limited snaps a season ago, rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Blue opted to forfeit his senior season at Houston Klein Cain, but as a junior he exploded for 2,155 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.

Who replaces Dicker the Kicker?

Cameron Dicker was one of the best punters in the country last season, averaging 46.8 yards per attempt. He also drilled 13 of 15 field goals and missed just one point after a try.

Sophomore Gabriel Lozano and redshirt freshman Bert Auburn are currently battling to be the starting placekicker. Redshirt rookie Isaac Pearson, the No. 3 punter in the 2021 class, will handle punting duties.

“Issac, really the last two-thirds of the spring, he’s been great,” Sarkisian said.

About Betty J. Snyder

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