Freshman Manning steps up to backup QB

5 months ago
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Quinn Ewers is still the starting quarterback for No. 3 Texas as it prepares to face No. 2 Washington in a College Football Playoff game on Jan. 1.

However, there will be plenty of eyes on the understudy with the famous pedigree.

Redshirt freshman Maalik Murphy, who earned a No. 2 role in spring practice and started two games this season when Ewers was injured, recently entered the NCAA transfer portal. His departure elevated freshman Arch Manning, grandson of Archie, nephew of Peyton and Eli, to a backup role.

Manning, the touted five-star recruit, handled cleanup duties late in wins against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in the Longhorns’ last two games. He completed 2 of 5 passes for 30 yards against Tech and had a 12-yard run. Manning received a wild, rapturous ovation from the Texas home crowd when he took the field against Tech for his college debut.

Texas (12-1) coach Steve Sarkisian said Manning will be ready if needed.

“He’s more than capable of playing really good football for us,” Sarkisian said. “I think the opportunity he had to play here against Tech showed what he’s capable of and we’re going to get him ready to play. I joked with him the other day, “You’re not a freshman anymore. It’s your second year now.”

Ewers, a sophomore, has missed five full games and three quarters of others with shoulder injuries since transferring to Texas from Ohio State and becoming a starter last season.

He was injured late in the first quarter against Alabama last season after completing 9 of 12 passes for 134 yards. Texas lost 20-19. This season, he was injured in a win against Houston. Earlier in the season, he passed for 349 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-24 win at Alabama.

Ewers is not the first Texas quarterback to leave in the first quarter of a big game against Alabama with a shoulder injury. Colt McCoy was knocked out of the BCS National Championship game against the Crimson Tide on January 7, 2010.

He was replaced by Garrett Gilbert, a freshman who didn’t get significant playing time this season, completing 15 of 26 passes in nine games before McCoy’s injury. Gilbert finished 15 of 40 against Alabama with two touchdowns against four interceptions. His two touchdown passes in the second half left the Longhorns trailing 24-21 with 6:15 remaining. But Gilbert fumbled as he was sacked with 3:02 left. Alabama recovered at the Texas 3, scored a touchdown and won 37-21.

Gilbert, a big national recruit from Austin, never gained any traction with the Longhorns. He was mobbed at times by Texas fans and later transferred to SMU.

As for Manning, teammates say he’s serious, studious and hardworking.

“Arch has always had this mindset that I’m going to come in and work for what’s mine,” said Jerin Thompson, a safety officer.

McCoy, speaking on the Barstool Sports podcast Pardon My Take, was enthusiastic about Manning. McCoy said Manning showed a detailed knowledge of the Texas offense while still in high school.

“I’ve been around Arch quite a bit,” McCoy said. “He was much more prepared, ready and mature than I was when I came on campus.”…Read more by admin

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