Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers will be sidelined for some time due to a shoulder injury in his throwing arm. Maalik Murphy is expected to start, but coach Steve Sarkisian announced that Arch Manning will split reps at practice this week. Texas is an 18-point favorite at home against BYU. What can we expect from the Longhorns?
Who is Malik Murphy?
Murphy is a redshirt freshman who was a four-star recruit from the 2022 class. Murphy is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound pro quarterback, but we didn’t see many notable performances from Murphy, who completed one of two passes after subbing Ewers late against Houston. We got a glimpse of Murphy’s abilities in the spring game when he completed 9 of 13 passes for 165 yards, including a deep touchdown pass to five-star receiver Johntay Cook II. One of his incompletions was another perfect bomb dropped .
Because of the small sample size, Texas is confident the offense will not be limited by the air. A repeat week should focus on getting Murphy comfortable at the helm of the offense. The question with a new quarterback isn’t whether he’ll fit into the offense, but whether he’s ready to step into the spotlight. This is where the talent around Murphy comes into play.
Jonathon Brooks averages an explosive run every 6.5 attempts. Brooks is best in space and has solid receiving skills. While he doesn’t have elite breakout speed, he’s quick enough to win big chunks when finding an opening. Brooks is ninth in yards after contact and in the top 20 in yards after contact per attempt and rushing plays of 15 yards or more.
With a new quarterback starting for the first time, the plan should be to run the ball to ease the pressure on Murphy. Brooks has had five games with at least 99 yards rushing this season, including a breakout 218 yards against Kansas. Brooks now has another chance.
Can BYU stop the run?
According to Pro Football Focus, BYU ranks 70th in rush defense and is 89th in the FBS in rushing yards allowed and 30th in opponent yards per carry.
In two road games, BYU Kansas allowed 221 yards rushing and allowed Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw to average 6.5 yards per rush. The Cougars allowed 242 rushing yards to Cincinnati, including 94 to quarterback Emory Jones. Texas is currently averaging 38 carries per game. The workload placed on Brooks can help Murphy live in more manageable situations.
If the Texas defense can put pressure on QB Kedon Slovis, create some short field opportunities, pass the ball to Brooks and perhaps open the playbook for Murphy, Texas should roll and get the job done. Maybe we’ll even see what Murphy is truly capable of.