Hudson Card was historically bad throwing under pressure in 2021

Hudson Card, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Hudson Card, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian saw the likes of then-sophomore quarterback Hudson Card and redshirt junior Casey Thompson go back and forth to take the reigns for the offense. Card started out the season as QB1 for Sark and Texas. But he lost the starting job by the Week 2 matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road.

Thompson took the starting job in Week 3 and held onto it throughout nearly the entire rest of the 2021 campaign.

But Card is the only one of the two quarterbacks that were competing for the starting job last offseason on the Forty Acres that stuck around in 2022. Card is now duking it out with the former Ohio State Buckeyes freshman transfer quarterback and elite five-star recruit Quinn Ewers to win the starting job this fall.

It does appear as if Ewers holds a heavy advantage over Card heading into fall camp in this looming quarterback competition that raged on since spring ball. Sark and the Longhorns weren’t just going to nab Ewers out of the NCAA Transfer Portal in the fashion they did last December without planning to have him be the starter in 2022.

Card is clearly facing an uphill battle that could result in a situation that is pretty unfair to him by most considerations. If Card loses this quarterback competition for good behind Ewers this fall, that could mean the book is officially closed in terms of his potential to make an impact on this program.

Texas football QB Hudson Card was historically bad when facing pressure on passing plays last season

What got Card to this point, where he is facing such an extreme uphill battle in the quarterback competition this year, are some of the struggles he had in terms of his pocket presence last season. Card didn’t hold up well in the slightest when he was pressured last year.

Card’s inability to keep his eyes downfield when the pocket was collapsing last season was made even worse by the fact that Texas had one of the least effective offensive lines in the Big 12. Those two factors compounded to have a pretty drastic impact on Card’s numbers in 2021.

In fact, Card might be the worst Texas quarterback in the last decade in terms of his passing production while facing pressure.

Last season, Card ranked at the bottom of the Big 12 in terms of offensive grade and passing grade when under pressure. On 42 dropbacks where he came under pressure, Card completed only 41.7 percent of his passing attempts for 118 passing yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions.

But those 42 dropbacks where he came under pressure last season also resulted in two non-interception turnovers, four turnover-worthy plays, and a whopping 10 sacks. That’s insane that Card was sacked on nearly 25 percent of the dropbacks where he came under pressure.

Card was also sacked nearly twice as many times as he was able to scramble away from pressure and either throw the ball away or pick up some type of positive yardage.

His pressure-to-sack rate was also good for second-worst in the Big 12 last season behind West Virginia’s Jarret Doege, illustrating his struggles to get the ball out of his hand when he needed to the most.

Furthermore, the numbers paint a clear picture that Card got about as rattled as you possibly can when he came under pressure last season. And what makes this so much worse is the fact that he had an average time to throw when he came under pressure of more than four seconds.

The average time to throw for Big 12 quarterbacks last season on snaps where they came under pressure was around 3.6. And essentially all of the Big 12 quarterbacks that had even less time to throw in the pocket on dropbacks where they faced pressure were more effective than Card in terms of making positive plays.

It’s worth noting that if Card wants to have any shot of taking hold of the starting quarterback job at some point this fall, he’s going to have to radically improve his effectiveness when the pocket collapses in front of him.

While you can’t blame all of the issues Card had last season on him, you would expect at least a little bit better out of a blue-chip talent at quarterback than being the lowest-graded passer under pressure for this program in the last decade.

Card had the highest turnover-worthy play percentage under pressure, worst pressure-to-sack rate, and the worst offensive/passing grade of any Texas quarterback in the last decade.

The fact of the matter is that Card is too talented as a multi-faceted dual-threat quarterback with a big arm that also has some sneaky elusiveness and acceleration to have the type of season he did last year. He was thrown into a tough situation under a new coaching staff and wasn’t ready for the spotlight at the time, especially against a team like Arkansas on the road.

Card proved in the season opener last year against a top 25 Louisiana team that he can effectively lead this offense. He just has to find that confidence and resilience on a consistent basis to find success as either the Texas starting quarterback or as the starter for another college team.

Yet, if Texas’ offensive line play does improve this fall compared to last season, either Card or Ewers will have ample opportunity to really lift this passing game off the ground in 2022.

It’s likely going to be Ewers that gets the reigns for the offense in Week 1 against Louisiana-Monroe at home on Sep. 3. But we could also see Card get some significant live-game reps in Week 1 if Texas is able to take an early lead on ULM.

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Texas finished up last season with a record of 5-7 (3-6 Big 12), missing out on bowl season for the first time since 2016. Card and the Longhorns will open up fall camp on Aug. 4, with the regular season opener against ULM coming roughly one month later at DKR.