Football

Quinn Ewers Gives Longhorns ‘Lights Out’ Championship Game

NCAA Football: Texas at Alabama

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers made one mistake in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma State.

It hardly mattered. But what happened next said a lot about him and his progress this season.

Ewers saved perhaps his best game of the season for the biggest game of the season so far, as he broke the Big 12 Championship Game passing record set by Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in 2008 and led Texas to its first Big 12 title since 2009.

 

That year the Longhorns played in the BCS National Championship Game but lost to Alabama. The Longhorns will learn their fate on Sunday during the College Football Playoff selection show.

He finished the game 35-of-46 passing for 452 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Ewers didn’t even play the last several minutes of the game, as Texas had things well in hand and won, 49-21. He was named the game’s most outstanding player.

For the record, that mistake was an interception in the second quarter. It led to a Cowboys touchdown. It also gave Oklahoma State a short field, something Texas wanted to avoid.

“We said we are not giving these guys a short field and then I ended up doing that, giving (Oklahoma State) some fuel,” Ewers said. “But we didn’t focus on the negativity, we focused on what we’ve been doing well and how we can attack this.”

The Ewers pick and the Rashod Owens touchdown for the Cowboys made it a 28-14 game.

But that’s how good the Longhorns were on offense on Saturday. They scored on each of their first four possessions before the interception.

 

Then, after the interception, the Longhorns went right back down the field and scored another, as Ewers hit running back Jaydon Blue on an 8-yard touchdown pass.

“His response, like it’s been on year, it was tremendous,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said.
“We talked about growth on everybody, but what an area of growth for him to respond the way that he did.”

Ewers completed his first 12 passes of the game before one finally fell incomplete. He wasn’t picky about who he threw too, either. He connected with nine different receivers. Well, eight of them. The ninth was defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat, who caught a touchdown pass out of a jumbo formation that the Longhorns installed on Thursday.

All four of Ewers’ touchdown passes went to different receivers.

Rebound After Injury

Texas lost Ewers for a couple of weeks to an AC joint sprain, during which time Maalik Murphy stepped in and kept the Longhorns moving toward a Big 12 title game berth. Strangely, his passing yardage dropped in each game since his return — 317 yards against TCU, 281 yards against Iowa State and 196 yards against Texas Tech, though that last game was a 56-6 Longhorns blowout.

Then came Saturday.

For Ewers, this is part of the reason why he transferred to Texas after he started his college career at Ohio State in 2021. He played his high school football at Southlake Carroll, just north of AT&T Stadium, and left high school early to capitalize on NIL, something he couldn’t do in Texas.

 

After transferring to Texas, he won the starting job last year before suffering an injury in the Alabama game. After returning and getting his job back, one of his weaker performances last season was against Oklahoma State — 19-of-49 for 319 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions in a 41-34 loss to the Cowboys.

A win there might have flipped the Longhorns into the Big 12 title game against TCU. Ewers felt he got a little redemption on Saturday, as Texas didn’t play OSU in the regular season in 2023.

“There’s no better feeling honestly, especially for the guys who’ve just dreamed of playing here in this state and accomplishing something of this magnitude,” Ewers said. “It’s nothing but a blessing.”

It wasn’t just Ewers, of course. The Longhorns rushed for nearly 200 yards. He was sacked once but Sarkisian praised the offensive line’s overall protection all game. The offense was incredibly efficient in building a 35-14 lead.

But less noticeable pieces of Ewers’ game impressed Sarkisian just as much as the victory, which was proof of the third-year quarterback’s overall progress on a day in which Sarkisian said Ewers played a “lights out” game.

“I thought the thing that showed up today was him getting to secondary reads and getting through progressions and still get the ball out really accurately and give our guys chances to make plays,” Sarkisian said.

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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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