Texas football's blowout of Rice this past weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to ease heralded freshman quarterback Arch Manning into his collegiate career. Head coach Steve Sarkisian admitted that was his intention.
So why didn't Longhorns fans get to see Manning in action?
“Quite frankly I had all intentions of playing Arch in that game,” Sarkisian admitted on Thursday, per On3.com. “I didn’t think that the fourth quarter would go as fast as it did, and then I didn’t want to put him in there for the last minute and a half and use a game on that.”
Texas cruised through much of their win over in-state rival Rice. It was a five possession game for most of the 4th quarter, with Texas holding a 37-3 lead following a third quarter Quinn Ewers touchdown run. Rice scored a touchdown with the game already out of reach.
Sarkisian's admission about Manning does lead to some questions about the plan for the rest of the season. The idea of not using “a game on that” in regards to playing Manning implies this might be a redshirt season for him. If that is indeed the plan, Manning can appear in no more than four games.
But if Manning is going to serve as Ewers' primary backup, wouldn't getting him some live reps make sense? Even for only one drive? Now, if Ewers has to exit against #3 Alabama in Texas' next game, Manning's first college action will come against a Nick Saban defense. Which is probably not ideal circumstances.
Sarkisian did get Maalik Murphy, Texas football's other backup QB, some reps against Rice. If Murphy is ready to serve as the #2 on the depth chart, why plan on playing Manning at all?
Perhaps Sarkisian can see the bigger picture more clearly in his mind. But it seems like he missed a prime opportunity to get Manning some game action. If Texas plans on Manning making an impact this season, he probably would have benefitted from getting in there.
It will be interesting to see when (or if) Manning is called upon in 2023.