2022 Red River Showdown: starting QB and game notes

If what Pete Thamel, College Football Senior Writer for ESPN, is reporting that Quinn Ewers is back — then that can only mean good things for the Texas offense.

According to Thamel, Ewers is expected to make his return and start, according to Thamel's sources. Here is what head coach Steve Sarkisian said when asked who the starting quarterback will be during his Thursday morning media availability.

Sarkisian asked who the starting QB will be against Oklahoma in Red River Showdown

Yes, the mullet will make its return in Dallas for the Red River Showdown, and a Longhorns offense that has been more than decent in Big 12 play without Ewers should take a step forward with him leading the way.

Besides bringing an improvement in arm talent, accuracy and decision-making, Ewers just seems to have a moxie about him and doesn’t get fazed by the good or bad.

Hudson Card has done more than an admirable job the last two weeks, especially in the win over West Virginia, but there’s something different about Texas with Ewers behind center.

Xavier Worthy goes from a really good receiver to superstar potential, while every receiving option becomes that more dangerous due to what Ewers can bring and the throws he can make.

Las Vegas seems to agree.

When Ewers was announced the starter by Pete Thamel and not by head coach Steve Sarkisian, Texas went from being favored by 6.5 points to being favored by 9, which is the largest amount the Longhorns have been favored in this game since 1998.

Another reason there should be optimism around the Texas offense is the puzzling performance of the Oklahoma defense the past two weeks.

The Sooners have been torched by Kansas State and TCU, with both the Wildcats and Frogs putting up more than 500 yards of offense — and TCU almost hitting 700.

Perhaps more concerning for Oklahoma fans is that the Sooners didn’t look like they cared all that much on defense in Fort Worth last Saturday, and that injuries will leave them with only four scholarship linebackers this week.

Another sign pointing in Texas’ favor is the fact it doesn’t look like Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel will play after suffering a concussion against TCU.

Gabriel was outstanding his first four games prior to a bit of a slow start against the Frogs, but this is a big blow for the Sooners.

Texas’ defensive line — led by defensive tackle Keondre Coburn — was phenomenal against West Virginia, and the Red River Showdown game isn’t an ideal place for a backup quarterback such as Davis Beville to make his starting debut.

However, this is a rivalry game, and it’s hard to imagine Oklahoma playing worse than it did a week ago.

The TCU loss was exacerbated by multiple injuries, and Sooners running back Eric Gray will present any defense a threat with his ability to run between the tackles and make receptions out of the backfield. And the Sooners don’t lack talent at wide receiver.

Also, there’s no guarantee Beville will start, so the Texas defense has to prepare for four different options at quarterback.

One more thing to note about this series is the team that wins the rushing battle generally wins this game.

Over the last 25 contests, the team with the most rushing yards is 22-2 (one year the teams tied for rushing yards).

But that’s also another factor that plays into Texas’ favor, as Bijan Robinson is likely the best player on the field and it would be a bit of a surprise if he didn’t run for at least 85 yards against a defense that has allowed more than 7 yards a carry the last two games.

The Longhorns are also deep at running back, so Texas coach Steve Sarkisian can spread the carries around and doesn’t have to give Robinson 30 carries.

Everything seems to be lining up for a Longhorns victory Saturday, and the key to that will be running the football effectively and not turning the ball over on offense, while stopping the run and forcing Oklahoma into third-and-longs on defense.

But the Sooners were in the top 10 two weeks ago, and there’s a reason for that — Oklahoma does have talent.

So, Texas fans should be confident going into this game with all the factors we’ve laid out — just don’t get too cocky. The game may go down to the wire and Bert Auburn will be called in to save the day like Cameron Dicker did in 2018 — the last time Texas won.