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Quinn Ewers freshman season rivals past Texas QB greats

Quinn Ewers, Sam Ehlinger, Colt McCoy, Vince Young, Major Applewhite

Five Texas starting quarterbacks and how Ewers compared against them in their freshman year. (photos courtesy Texas Athletics / graphic Horns Illustrated)

Quinn Ewers freshman season passing (photo Texas Athletics)

How did Ewers' freshman season compare against past Texas Longhorns quarterbacks during their freshman season?

The 2022 football season is over and Quinn Ewers finished with his best performance in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Washington that put him on par or arguably better than the freshman seasons of four Texas quarterback greats going back to 1998.

Ewers ended his freshman year with a total of 2,177 passing yards by completing 172 of his 296 passes (58%) even though he missed three games after a shoulder injury in the Alabama game. Ewers threw 15 touchdowns and six interceptions over the season.

In the much anticipated start of the season, or Chapter Two of the Sarkisian Era as we sometimes may call it, Ewers showed that he was the ‘real McCoy’ in the first two games against ULM and part of Alabama until he went down with a shoulder injury.

Sarkisian then left fans wondering when Ewers would return and waited until ~20 minutes before the Red River Showdown where Ewers came back and dominated the entire game putting up 289 yards and four touchdowns. The next game against Iowa State was productive, then dark clouds rolled over the next five games for Ewers that left fans calling for Hudson Card to play.

Nine days prior to the Alamo Bowl, Ewers was faced with a new reality. National signing day gave way to the much anticipated Arch Manning signing and making it official that he was becoming a Texas Longhorns. 

It may be easy to believe, or hope, that Manning will come in and give Texas a QB1 they can rally around, but not so fast.

It is important to ask, “Why did Sarkisian continue to play Ewers during those unproductive five games and not play Hudson Card?”

The answer may be revealed in what Sarkisian saw in Ewers based on years of coaching high level quarterbacks and understanding the road to greatness does not happen immediately.

Then we pondered, “How did Ewers’ freshman season compare to past Texas quarterback greats, at least in recent history?” We went back and looked at Ewers versus Sam Ehlinger, Colt McCoy, Vince Young, and Major Applewhite. Here is what we discovered.

Ewers' freshman year

Compared to Sam Ehlinger

Ehlinger's freshman year was 2017 and he played in nine games, threw 275 passes, completed 158 (seven interceptions), tallied 1,915 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Compared to Colt McCoy

McCoy as a freshman in 2006, played in 13 games, threw 318 passes, completed 217, and tallied 2,570 passing yards.

McCoy had 393 more yards after playing in three more games than Ewers and 22 more passing attempts (45 more completions), plus 14 more touchdown passes. What if Ewers did not get injured and played in three more games? He likely would have surpassed McCoy in everything except for touchdowns. 

Compared to Vince Young*

Vince Young redshirted in 2002 and in 2003 played 12 games where he threw 143 passes, 84 of them were caught for a total of 1,155 yards, threw seven interceptions, and six touchdowns. A comparison against Young should have an asterisk because Young also rushed for 998 yards and 11 touchdowns giving him a total yardage of 2,153.

Young's total yards is less that Ewer's total yards because when you take Ewers' 2,177 passing yards combined with the -52 rushing yards, Ewers total yards is 2,125, or 28 yards less that Young's.

Compared to Major Applewhite

Major Applewhite freshman season was 1998 where he played in 11 games threw 273 passes, 159 were caught, for a total of 2,453 yards, had 11 interceptions, and 18 touchdowns. Had Ewers played in one more game, would he have thrown for another 276 yards and three touchdowns?  If he had, Ewers certainly would have rivaled Applewhite also.

What are we saying? Quinn Ewers may be equal to, or better than, some of Texas best quarterbacks in their freshman year!

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