Ranking the quarterbacks Texas will face in 2023

Regardless of whether you are a defensive enthusiast, we all know that the football world revolves around the quarterback position.

There’s a reason Texas landing Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning has generated as much buzz as it has, quarterback is the most important position in sports. For a program like Texas who has been searching for their next great quarterback for what feels like forever, Ewers could very well be the one.

However, the Longhorns aren’t the only program that has a talented signal caller. In fact, the Big 12 is known for pumping out talented quarterbacks left and right with recent names such as Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts all hailing from a Big 12 program.

Having a good or even great quarterback can be the difference between a team wining or losing games, and Longhorns fans are well aware what inconsistent quarterback play produces. Just look at the last decade or so of Texas football.

While it’s important to have a good quarterback, it is just as important that you are able to slow down the opposing team’s passer. Whether it was Will Grier at West Virginia or Caleb Williams during his breakout year at Oklahoma, Texas has suffered heartbreaking losses due to stellar quarterback performances.

Although this upcoming season is viewed as being “Texas’ year” the Longhorns will not have a walk in the park in order to reach the Big 12 Championship or the playoff. According to ESPN’s FPI, Texas has the 12th most difficult schedule in the country, which means there are some talented signal callers along the way.

Here are my rankings of quarterbacks who I think can give the Longhorns the most trouble in 2023.

Andrew Peasley (Wyoming)

Texas is set to play Wyoming in Week 3, and while they could be coming off a huge win or loss against Alabama, this Cowboys passing attack is not threatening enough to worry anyone. This past season, Wyoming was home to one of the worst passing offenses in the country, ranking No. 125 in passing yards and No. 122 in yards per pass attempt (5.7). Peasley proved to be inconsistent and inaccurate, completing just 52.4% of his passes for 1,574 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

JT Daniels (Rice)

The former quarterback prodigy will now be suiting up for his fourth program, and oddly enough will have played Texas at three of his stops. Daniels was unable to replicate the success he had at Georgia before going down with an injury and being replaced by Stetson Bennett, and even was pulled in favor of Garret Greene last season at West Virginia. Daniels isn’t mobile, and showed last season he was prone to forcing throws. The Longhorns shouldn’t have any issues shutting down him and Rice.

Chandler Morris (TCU)

While TCU fans are confident in the quarterback that beat out eventual Heisman finalist Max Duggan, Chandler Morris has yet to play enough to truly be considered one of the better quarterbacks in the conference. If is able to stay healthy, his ranking could easily rise.

Donovan Smith (Houston)

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of being a more proven and dangerous quarterback that Texas will face, the Texas Tech transfer is this high for those exact reasons. Smith willed the Red Raiders to victory against Texas this past season. He is known to make bad throws, but does have the intangibles of a quarterback who can hurt the Texas defense thanks to his ability to run.

Hunter Dekkers (Iowa State)

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The heir apparent to Brock Purdy did not have the season he had hoped for in 2022, as he threw 14 interceptions. Dekkers and the Cyclones were also 0-4 against ranked opponents, and he appeared to be at his worst against better teams. The southpaw could take a major step after gaining a year of experience, but there are more dangerous passers on this list.

Blake Shapen (Baylor)

Shapen is going on year three in this system, and had to fend off Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson this offseason. While he folded down the stretch for the Bears, he had efficient moments. If he can take the next step, as well as getting some help from his pass catchers he can emerge as one of the more consistent passers in the conference. He turned the ball over less than others, which is why he is ranked higher than certain passers.

Kedon Slovis (BYU)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

If BYU gets the USC Kedon Slovis that threw for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns to just nine picks as a freshman, this offense could be quite dynamic. The Cougars lost a few key pieces to the NFL, but adding an experienced transfer in Slovis is something that they are hoping will help ease their transition. If Slovis turns the ball over like he did the past couple years (17 interceptions), it will be a long year and a good matchup for an experienced Texas secondary. Despite his struggles as of late, Slovis is better than any of the quarterbacks ranked below him when he is at his best.

Tyler Shough (Texas Tech)

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Shough is now a sixth-year quarterback that has top-tier potential. He suffered a broken collarbone in 2021 and dealt with a shoulder injury last season, which has limited his production. He has however shown flashes as a quarterback that can be one of the better passers in college football, and if he can finally avoid the injury bug he and the Red Raiders could upset Texas again.

Tyler Buchner (Alabama)

Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

Injury took away Tyler Buchner’s season at Notre Dame, but he followed his offensive coordinator Tommy Reese to Alabama. He has familiarity in the system, and should have better weapons at his disposal which means he could explode in 2023. He is an athletic quarterback that can evade pressure, which as we all know is something that hurts Texas’ defense, not bringing down the quarterback. Of the three quarterbacks contending for Bama’s starting job he is by far the most experienced and also the most well rounded.

Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma)

The Longhorns didn’t face Dillon Gabriel in the 2022 shellacking of Oklahoma, but he is one of the better quarterbacks in the conference when healthy. He has a huge arm and is tough to bring down when he takes off. He threw for 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions, while adding 315 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He led the Sooners to a 6-6 record, and is looking to take a huge leap in 2023.

Will Howard (Kansas State)

Last season was Will Howard’s best of his career, as following an injury to Adrian Martinez he never relinquished the job. He is responsible for leading Kansas State to a Big 12 title, throwing for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four picks. He saw his yards per attempt increase to 8.2 from 5.9 in 2021, while his completion percentage also increased. With it finally being his turn Howard has a chance to help the Wildcats repeat as Big 12 champs, but more importantly, he can end Texas’ streak against the Wildcats at six straight if he plays well.

Jalon Daniels (Kansas)

Just two years ago Kansas was counting on Jason Bean to do literally everything for them to win. This past season, Jalon Daniels took the college football world by storm, even earning Heisman buzz early in the season. He already has a win over Texas under his belt, and will be looking to continue to turn the Kansas program around. He may be one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, as he threw for 2,014 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air and added 419 yards and seven scores on the ground. Of any quarterback on the schedule, he is the one that the Longhorns are likely most wary about.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire