Accuracy between the numbers will be key for Quinn Ewers in 2022

Quinn Ewers, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY NETWORK
Quinn Ewers, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY NETWORK /

All eyes among Texas football fans this fall will be on the looming quarterback competition between the redshirt freshman transfer Quinn Ewers and junior Hudson Card. Most Texas fans expect Ewers to win the quarterback competition in fall camp. But you can’t officially hand the starting job to Ewers for Week 1 this coming season quite yet.

Second-year head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns are likely still going to give significant live-game reps to Ewers and Card in Week 1 against Louisiana-Monroe, especially if this team jumps out to a sizable lead in the first half. That would be similar to how Sark treated the quarterback competition between Card and Casey Thompson in Week 1 against Louisiana last fall.

Sark and the Longhorns staff are going to want to make sure that this offense is in the best position possible to effectively keep pace with the Alabama Crimson Tide in Week 2. Getting both quarterbacks comfortable and in rhythm against a weaker opponent in Week 1 against Louisiana-Monroe will be important to put this team in the best spot possible against Alabama.

And there are some other similarities for this coming season compared to last that Sark and the Longhorns staff should learn from before facing the Crimson Tide in Week 2 this fall. Texas had more trouble throwing to certain areas of the field last season than others. And Thompson was a big culprit in this type of discussion.

Just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see that Texas struggled to throw between the numbers more often, purely in terms of passing touchdown/interception ratio, compared to the other spots on the field.

Now, I do want to mention that there is always more risk throwing to the middle of the field than there is either sideline. More traffic in the middle of the field can always wreak havoc in the form of more turnovers than if quarterbacks throw to either sideline. Of course, that’s one of the reasons why quarterbacks throw the ball away to either sideline.

Thompson and Card also threw more passing attempts on balls that weren’t thrown away than either the right or left sideline last season. That can skew these numbers a bit.

But it’s still worth noting that Texas quarterbacks last season had a passing touchdown/interception ratio of 1.25, compared to 3.0 to the left, and 9.0 to the right. That is obviously a big discrepancy between each spot on the field.

The issues in terms of managing turnovers were especially applicable on deep balls for one quarterback, where Thompson had five interceptions compared with no passing touchdowns between the numbers. That was primarily caused by rampant pressure on Thompson, which forced at least two or three misthrown balls and/or tipped passes that resulted in turnovers.

This needs to serve as a lesson to Sark and the Longhorns staff before taking on some truly difficult non-conference foes early this coming season.

A difficult slate in the first few weeks of the regular season will be a good test to see if Texas can manage turnovers more effectively, especially when throwing between the numbers.

Texas’ offense has plenty of potential this fall, especially if Ewers is the starter. But the offensive line will need to give him ample time to throw and he’ll need to manage turnover to the best of his ability. Ewers has shown the tendency to have too much confidence in his arm, which can result in untimely interceptions.

Between the numbers a key area of the field for Texas football QB Quinn Ewers to be cautious

That was put on display during the spring game a few months ago. Ewers tossed an interception over the middle of the field to Anthony Cook, which was a good example of him going through his reads too quickly and having too much trust in his arm talent.

It will be a bad sign if Ewers is tossing picks at a similar rate as Thompson did last season on deep passes between the numbers. That either means that the offensive line still isn’t holding up in pass protection or Ewers is trusting his arm to a fault and forcing balls in tight windows.

Taking the time to go through his reads and find the safe option that he can dump the ball off to will be key for Ewers to minimize costly mistakes early this season. Ewers will have plenty of weapons to work with in this offense, giving him a lot of resources that will help him minimize these costly turnovers.

Moreover, it will also be important for Ewers to be accurate on passes between the numbers to maximize the potential of key weapons in the passing game such as star sophomore wideout Xavier Worthy and speedy redshirt junior Jordan Whittington. Worthy’s explosiveness gave Texas some huge opportunities last season to do damage to opposing defenses on intermediate and deep balls between the numbers.

Yet, on 14 targets on deep balls between the numbers last season, Worthy came up with just three catches for 109 yards and one touchdown. That compares to seven turnover-worthy passes and five interceptions on passes to Worthy in the same spot on the field.

Let’s assume that Ewers is able to even complete twice as many passes to Worthy on deep balls between the numbers, that would’ve realistically given Texas more than 100 more receiving yards and probably two or three more touchdown catches (assuming that statistical trends followed suit with the rest of Worthy’s numbers last season). That is clearly a huge difference-maker if Worthy could’ve had that much more production in just one part of the field in the passing game.

All in all, there is a clear road map for how this Texas offense can find more success on the field this fall compared to last season. Giving Ewers more time to go through his reads and use that insane arm talent he brings to the table to get the ball to the multitude of skill position studs in the mix on this offense will lead to more success in the win column for this entire team.

That means the offensive line needs to be more effective in pass protection and Sark is able to open up the playbook and get this offense in rhythm early in games.

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Accuracy between the numbers, especially on intermediate and deep passes, is just one phase of this offense that can help the entire unit be more effective this fall. But taking these incremental steps to put together a more efficient offensive unit this season will help Texas get back to relevance in the Big 12.