Quinn Ewers and Texas face Alabama after a narrow loss last year

 

Quinn Ewers and Texas face Alabama after a narrow loss last year

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The old story from 2012 shows that a quarterback who lives in Texas but flies to Alabama and thrives on that field in Tuscaloosa can take that quarterback into a magical sphere of football consciousness, as if the field in the Bryant-Denny Stadium itself gives the magic.

Quinn Ewers won’t resemble Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel circa 2012 should Ewers be successful Saturday when No. 11 Texas (1-0) visits No. 3 Alabama (1-0) — they’re different types of quarterbacks — but Ewers remains in the national consciousness, already three years old and with a lot of name, image and likeness business behind him, and could get a good leg up should he write something big against the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has only lost twice at home since that day in 2012 – to a lucky Mississippi in 2015 and a real visiting Orgeron, Burrow & Edwards-Helaire in 2019 – so there’s that.

It has won 69 times at home in the same period, so there’s that.

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But great hope has marked the lead-up to this Texas season, even if, thankfully, it hasn’t, and the talk concerns deep-rooted depth and camaraderie as well as an unfinished painting in coach Steve Sarkisian’s third season watching a game or two at Bryant-Denny Stadium. “I think we will have the mental strength to do it [play to capability]the mental strength to do it and the physical strength to do it because it’s going to be a physical football game,” Sarkisian said at Big 12 Media Days over the summer, when the Alabama game had already been removed from the calendar.

As for the unfinished painting, it is the canvas Ewers worked on in Austin last September. He had a first quarter in which he shot 9 for 12, with short, low and deep throws down the sideline, with one of the incompletions sneaking a bomb through the arms of a receiver in the end zone. He looked commanding, promising and convincing. Then Texas did one of those things that make 20th century coaches turn in their graves – everyone does these days – a first-down pass and score on the 1-yard line. Ewers ran backwards, felt the heat and threw it away just before linebacker Dallas Turner slammed him shoulder-first into the ground, triggering a penalty flag and ending Ewers’ afternoon before noon.

Hudson Card came into the game and kept the ship from tipping despite slowing down, and Bryce Young led Alabama 61 yards in nine plays on Will Reichard’s 33-yard field goal that made it 20-19 and Alabama’s fly home invigorated.

Ewers, then a freshman, missed three games and then played the final eight, but another year brought another chance to play the other quarters.

“You know,” Sarkisian told reporters in Austin on Monday, “I think Quinn has a whole different level of confidence.” You know, a year into his second career, he’s probably still learning our offense and the intricacies . I think there’s a level of confidence in him this year and focusing on, ‘How does he make plays in the system to help the other guys?’ Because he pretty much knows what he’s doing.”

“This year,” Ewers told reporters in late August, “I can just be myself and play more freely and not have to think so much about, ‘What is this guy doing?'” [receiver] have?’ It just automatically clicks.”

He had a lot more time with Sarkisian, the former BYU quarterback and former Alabama quarterback reliever known for scaring away the goblins of young quarterbacks.

He’s spent even more time with America, as a household name who isn’t a loud person (and actually seems pretty shy), and as a champion of all the big trends of the 2020s. He committed to Texas in August 2020 and then decommitted (to the modern art form) in October 2020. In November 2020, he committed to Ohio State and then in August 2021 opted out of his senior year of high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in Southlake Carroll, where you can feel football in the air, so he was taken by NIL deals (this one another modern art form). Then he transferred (that other modern art form) from Ohio State to Texas in December 2021.

Now he is able to live up to the public money, a talent that athletes of old did not have to master (although many tried to live up to the private money). He used to get some attention for his mane or mullet, but this August he sat before reporters in Austin with close-cropped hair befitting the warm bullet heat of this Texas summer.

He described himself as a “perfectionist” and said he viewed football as “more violent, active chess, where you try to beat the defense with certain movements”, and said his weight (at 1.80m) was 218 dropped to 218 in the Alamo Bowl against Washington to 200 through a variety of methods, including high protein, low carb, more vegetables and less fast food. He said he felt “more comfortable in his own skin” and was “one of those guys who knows what it’s supposed to look like.”

He said, “It’s got to be fun, you know? It’s a no-brainer.”

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His receivers expressed praise, and Xavier Worthy told reporters in Austin on Monday, “He’s definitely taken the next step.” His accuracy has been questioned (58.1 percent in nine games last year, 31 for 47 at the Alamo Bowl loss to Washington, 19 to 30 in last week’s opener against Rice). And his path has reached its treacherous stages that lead to a trial like this.

Way back in January 2021, in a Texas State title game that the coronavirus had pushed back from its usual December, Ewers, Rivals’ No. 1 pro quarterback in the country in 2021, was playing against Rivals’ Cade Klubnik ‘ No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the nation of 2022. Klubnik’s Westlake High, this Austin titan, defeated Ewers’ Southlake Carroll 52-34. Westlake’s Michael Taaffe, now a defensive back at Texas, intercepted Ewers twice, one of which was a stunning one-hander.

From then on, it seemed like they might clash again in Ewers’ senior year, which never happened as Ewers began to emerge into the national consciousness. Then the upward climb began, and now he could advance to a new realm if he could play chess well in Tuscaloosa.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/09/08/quinn-ewers-texas-alabama/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Quinn Ewers and Texas face Alabama after a narrow loss last year

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