Texas coach Steve Sarkisian was asked about Alabama's intimidation factor at his press conference Monday, and the former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator didn't break stride in his response.
"Any time you're on top, I think teams can sometimes be enamored with the opponent, whoever they are," Sarkisian said. "I remember our days with USC in the 2000's. We felt that a lot. I'm sure we felt it here at Texas in the 2000's. I'm sure any time Vince walked on the field, we felt that way."
No. 1 Alabama still has the intimidation factor with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who totaled six TDs in a 55-0 victory against Utah State in Week 1. This week's viewers, however, might be more enamored with Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers heading into Saturday's matchup with the Crimson Tide at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Ewers isn't Vince Young, but the curiosity factor around the five-star recruit remains high heading into this matchup.
It's part the near-perfect five-star rating and the fact WVU vs. Pitt Rivalry Jerseys Ewers reclassified in 2021 to attend Ohio State – only to transfer back to Texas. It's part the pending arrival of another near-perfect five-star quarterback in Arch Manning in 2023. It's part Ewers' appearance – the mullet and beard that looks almost like a young John Daly. And like Daly, a lot of it is about the long ball. That arm talent has the attention of Alabama coach Nick Saban.
That will be on display on the Big Noon Kickoff stage on Fox on Saturday. If Ewers' first start against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 3 offered any clues about how Ewers' might play, then the long ball is only part of the equation.
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"You know, going back looking at the film I definitely missed some opportunities," Ewers said via 247Sports' Chris Hummer on Monday. "I wish I had a couple of throws back. But at the end of the day, it's a great learning experience for me and I'm glad I faced some adversity just to kind of g Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry Shirts et over that first little edge."
Ewers finished 16 of 24 passing for 225 yards, two TDs and an interception in a 52-10 victory against the Warhawks, and that interception came on his second career pass when he tried to throw across his body while being flushed to the sideline. Sarkisian quickly pulled Ewers aside after that pass.
"That was an opportunity where what we called was not a great call, they covered it, he got flushed, and he tried to force a throw," Sarkisian said. "A really good learning moment for him, but I didn't feel for a second where he got flustered or was out of whack by any means."
Ewers warmed up from there and was especially effective in the intermediate passing game. He completed eight straight passes at one point and led three scoring drives, including two TDs, to give Texas a 24-3 halftime lead. Sarkisian was impressed with a third-down and fourth-down conversion where Ewers made late reads in his progression.
Ewers completed three passes of 20 yards or more, but none of those passes were more than 20 yards. He hit an RPO pass to Casey Cain which turned into a 43-yar Andrews University Cardinals shirt d gain and a pair of 25-yard pass to tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders, the first with a nice step-up in the pocket to elude pressure. It's that off-script playmaking that also will be needed against Alabama – which allowed just 57 passing yards in the opener against Utah State. It won't hurt to have SN Preseason All-American running back Bijan Robinson, who was impressed with Ewers in Week 1.
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"It was good to see him get out there and sling it a little bit, especially for his first start," Robinson said after the Louisiana-Monroe game. "It's college football and to see how comfortable he was getting throughout the game, I don't think he gets nervous ever. It was pretty cool to see him out there and help us Central Washington Wildcats shirt get the win."
The deep ball is the missing piece. Ewers attempted four passes of 20 yards or more in the air in the opener – all to Xavier Worthy – and the tandem could not connect. Two of those vertical shot Cal State Monterey Bay Otters Jerseys s were in the end zone.
"On a couple of them, I felt the boundary safety was going to trace over and I was trying to kind of keep trying to keep more vertical," Ewers said. "But at the end of the day, I gotta use the green grass and you know, X is a fast guy, and we have fast receivers that run great post routes."
"I thought he played pretty well," Sarkisian added. "Very rarely did I feel like, 'Man, the ball is not going to the right spot, to the right person.' I think some of the deep balls he would like to have back from an accuracy stan Eastern Illinois Panthers Jerseys dpoint, and he'll NCAA Spirit shirt fix it. Sometimes you need to get the full-speed rep of guys running down the field of what that feels like."
Those deep balls will be needed against Alabama. Those are the momentum-changing plays – not to mention the throws that attract NFL attention – that makes Ewers so intriguing. Remember Ohio State's Cardale Jones in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in 2014-15? He had a long arm and was making his second start, too.
Could Ewers do the unthinkable and beat the Crimson Tide, who are 20.5-point favorites?
Alabama has lost just 12 regular-season games since 2010, and the quarterbacks who won those games are a mixed bag of Heisman winners such as Cam Newton, Johnn Butler Bulldogs clothes y Manziel and Joe Burr College Halloween Costumes ow and out-of-nowhere heroes such as Steven Garcia, Bo Wallace and Zach Calzada. Ewers has the five-star pedigree, but he is making just his second career start.
QBs who beat Alabama in regular season since 2010
|Steven Garcia, South Carolina (Oct. 9, 2010)|
|Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee, LSU (Nov. 6, 2010)|
|Cam Newton, Auburn (Nov. 26, 2010)|
|Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee, LSU (Nov. 5, 2011)|
|Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (Nov. 10, 2012)|
|Nick Marshall, Auburn (Nov. 30, 2013)|
|Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (Oct. 4, 2014)|
|Chad Kelly, Ole Miss (Sept. 19, 2015)|
|Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (Nov. 25, 2017)|
|Joe Burrow, LSU (Nov. 9, 2019)|
|Bo Nix, Auburn (Nov. 30, 2019)|
|Zach Calzada, Texas A&M (Oct. 9, 2021)|
Fair or not, this is the start where Ewers will be judged the most in 2022, especially with Manning's impending arrival. Those five-star quarterbacks are tasked with pulling Texas – which finished 5-7 last season – to the same heights as Vince Young – who led the Longhorns to the 41-38 victory against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Sarkisian was the Trojans' quarterback coach at the time.
Now, the most-viral detail Sarkisian was asked about concerning Ewers after the first game was about why the quarterback's car was towed. He didn't break stride in that response either.
"He's gotta park where he is supposed to park," Sarkisian said. "That wasn't where he was supposed to be parking on game day."
If Texas beats Alabama, then Ewers could probably park at the 50-yard line for the remainder of the season. This is the game five-star quarterbacks are brought on for, and Ewers recognizes the intimidation factor on the other sideline.
"There's definitely sometimes there could be a mental block there just because you know how historic the program is," Ewers said. "You know, for sure."
Yet Ewers does not sound intimidated at all. He used the word "excited" 10 times during his media availability Monday.
"It's a great program and a historic program," he said. "I'm excited. Excited to get on the field."