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No matter what happens on Saturday against Rice, Texas is in a lose-lose situation.
Win by a ton? Congrats, you beat an 0-2 CUSA team and did what you were supposed to do. Keep it close? Wow, the wheels have fallen off even more in Austin, the Steve Sarkisian era is off to a rough start.
Especially with the quarterback controversy brewing. Sarkisian named Casey Thompson the starter this week after Hudson Card struggled against Arkansas. If given equal opportunities, both quarterbacks are going to look fantastic. I mean, it’s Rice.
Nonetheless, there are still a few things to look for during the game. Sarkisian and his staff have some important decisions to make before kicking off the conference schedule against Texas Tech next week. Players need to get back in form and at least attempt to look sharp.
Here are five things to watch for in Texas’ Saturday night matchup against Rice.
Playing time between the two quarterbacks
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I think it's safe to say both Casey Thompson and Hudson Card are going to look good against Rice. Texas' offense is far too talented to play down to the competition this week. How much both plays throughout the game will be the interesting part. Steve Sarkisian has already said the two will get a significant amount of snaps on Saturday, as they have the two previous weeks. Thompson starting will be the only difference. When Card gets in the game, does he also get snaps with the first team? Or will he be inserted late enough where he will run second team? Either way, Sarkisian will have questions to answer postgame.
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Pete Kwiatkowski's unit was a rollercoaster against Arkansas. The first half kept Texas in the game but porous run defense was the downfall in the second half. Rotation seemed to be a theme throughout, especially when the Longhorns needed stops. Let's see how much the starting defense stays on the field and if the rotation, especially on the defensive line, continues. Rice could be a good test run for Kwiatkowski to see who will be his guys going forward.
Bijan getting back to being Bijan
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Bijan Robinson was not himself last week. Partly thanks to the offensive line play, partly because of poor play calling/timing from Sarkisian. Expect that to change against Rice on Saturday. Even if the OL/coaching issues continue, Robinson is going to be good enough to run through the Owl defense. Long runs, breaking tackles, and incredible yards after contact stats should be back.
Offensive line make up
AP Photo/Michael Thomas
Jones-Okafor-Majors-Angilau-Kerstetter. That's expected to be the starting offensive line on Saturday, even after a rocky performance in Fayetteville. Sarkisian said the five need more time to mesh together after learning a new system. After all, it was only Week 2. Well, Big 12 play is coming up and there is little time to tinker around with the offensive line. Playing against Rice will present a great situation to experiment with different lines and how they play together. Otherwise, Card/Thompson are going to be down in the backfield a lot more often.
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Cameron Dicker had a howler of a game, missing a field goal and bobbling a snap on a punt. For so long, he was thought to be one of the more reliable guys on the roster. Even after struggling, Dicker is still listed as the placekicker and punter on the depth chart. Despite losing out the starting quarterback job, Card is still the holder for field goals and extra points. The tempo and timing will be the same for Dicker. Having a successful special teams day will reinstall confidence into Jeff Banks' unit.