Texas Football: OU writer thinks Ewers could be benched before Red River

The hot takes have continued to roll in this spring concerning Texas football and redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers. The latest hot take that surfaced this spring came courtesy of Carey Murdock of the Sooner Scoop (part of the On3 Network) this week.

Murdock joined J.D. PicKell for an On3 Roundtable to discuss the Red River Rivalry from the Oklahoma perspective in 2023. This interview was filled by Murdock’s hot takes almost from beginning to end for a short five minutes.

First off, there was a point early in this interview when Murdock stated that he thought that Red River was “not fun” last year for “either side” covering the game.

“That was a disaster last year, 49-0. It was not fun. I don’t think for either side, I mean for at least for the guys covering that thing.”

I wouldn’t say this often, but I think I can speak on behalf of at least most of the Texas media when I say that covering last year’s Red River game was pretty fun for the Longhorns (media and fans included).

OU publisher Carey Murdock has a hot take regarding Texas football QB Quinn Ewers

The hottest take of them all, though, came from Murdock when he brought up what is essentially a non-existent quarterback controversy for the Longhorns this year.

“My question is — will there be a quarterback controversy? Will there be pressure on him to play well? Because of one young Mr. Five-star on the bench. If he doesn’t play well to start the season, I don’t know that Oklahoma faces Quinn Ewers in that game.”

Murdock suggested in this interview that Ewers might not even make it to the Red River Rivalry game as Texas’ starting quarterback. He’s hinting at the possibility that Arch Manning could be Texas’ starting quarterback by Red River (Oct. 7) if Ewers gets off to a poor start.

There are so many issues that I have with this that it’s hard to know where to begin.

The first problem with Murdock’s statement is that Arch might not even be the backup quarterback to begin with heading into the 2023 season. Arch is going to have to beat out redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy to win the backup quarterback job coming out of fall camp.

And given the way that Murphy stood out with some impressive throws during the spring game last month, it doesn’t look like it will be the easiest task for Manning to surpass the redshirt freshman on the quarterback depth chart in fall camp.

Secondly, Murdock makes no mention of the progress that Ewers made in the final couple of games last season for the Longhorns or the strides we’ve heard about him making so far this offseason.

In fact, Murdock essentially stated the opposite by mentioning that Ewers went “downhill” after the Oklahoma game last season.

“Obviously, you know, Quinn Ewers had a big game last year. And that was probably the highlight of his season. It all seemed to kind of go downhill a little bit for him after that.”

Ewers played some of his best and most consistent football of the season in the last three games of last year. He actually graded out as the second-best starting quarterback in the Big 12 in the final three games of last season.

The arc that Ewers seems to be on right now is one that shows he’s making progress as a more composed and consistent presence in the pocket in his second year as the starting quarterback.

History also shows us that Steve Sarkisian’s offense is much more effective under more experienced starting quarterbacks (i.e. Cody Kessler at USC and Jake Locker at Washington).

Last but not least, Murdock completely ignores the obvious here that Ewers will have more weapons at his disposal at receiver this year than he did at any point last season. While Texas does lose running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, the wide receiver room is the strongest it’s ever been under Sark this year.

Ewers will have the likes of wide receivers Xavier Worthy, AD Mitchell, Isaiah Neyor, Johntay Cook II, Jordan Whittington, and tight end JT Sanders to pick apart opposing defenses in the passing game this fall.

All told, I think there is more focus that Murdock needs to put on how the Oklahoma defense will improve as a whole this fall after an abysmal showing last season that saw them allow 30 points per game and more than 460 total yards of offense. Worrying about a Texas quarterback controversy that is essentially non-existent right now between Ewers and Manning is a waste of time that stirs up an unnecessary conversation.

Texas got its first win under Sark in two tries in Red River last season, decimating the Sooners by a score of 49-0 on Oct. 8. The Longhorns and Sooners will meet for the final time as Big 12 foes in 2023 before the two programs make the jump to the SEC for the 2024 season.