By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Quinn Ewers had quite the debut as Texas quarterback, even if it was a little rough around the edges.
The freshman threw his first interception before his first completion. He recovered nicely to throw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-10 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. But there were a handful of missed deep balls and at some point, campus parking services towed away his car, which he discovered after leaving the stadium that night.
Next up: No. 1 Alabama, and a Crimson Tide defense that will be even tougher than the parking enforcers.
“They’re fast,” Ewers said Monday in a nonchalant sizing up of all-everything linebacker Will Anderson and the Tide (1-0), which routed Utah State 55-0. “They do everything the right way.”
Overall, Ewers got good postgame reviews from his coaches and teammates after his much-anticipated first start in burnt orange.
Ewers was one of the top recruits in the country out of high school in 2020. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he skipped his senior season and signed with Ohio State. The kid with the throwback mullet hairstyle was off to Columbus and signed million-dollar name, image and likeness deals, only to get stuck deep on the depth chart. He took two snaps last season.
After the Longhorns went 5-7, the door was open for the raw talent with a slingshot right arm to head back to his home state. Last season’s starter, Casey Thompson, transferred to Nebraska and Ewers beat out Hudson Card in training camp to earn the No. 1 spot.
Once on the field, Ewers released a deep throw a split second too late and his first pass was broken up. His second pass was a short throw in coverage, and the interception silenced the home crowd. Then came eight consecutive completions in three drives that finished with two touchdowns, a field goal and a 24-3 lead.
By then, Texas was in total control. Ewers called his first game a “a great learning experience.”
“I’m glad I faced some adversity,” he said. “I could get over that first little edge.”
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said following the game that he didn’t dial back the offense after the turnover.
“You can’t expect him to ride this bike and do it with training wheels on. I’ve got to let him go,” Sarkisian said.
The blemish in the bounce back was the inability to hit several deep throws to speedy wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who was open several times. Texas depends on the deep strike threat.
“I think I threw the ball where it needed to be, but I wish I had some throws back,” Ewers said. “We’ll fix it.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban called Ewers “a tremendous talent” and expects him to make a big jump in his second game. But the Tide will be looking to exploit that limited game experience.
“This guy’s a really, really good player and we’re going to have to do a great job of sort of hopefully disguising what we do a little bit so he has to figure it out after he gets the ball in his hand,” Saban said. “But he’s got the talent to make the plays when he knows where to go with it, that’s for sure.”
Overall, Sarkisian said he liked what he saw from his young QB, how he handled the early turnover and his ability to read defenses and to make a couple of tight throws into coverage.
And the hard lesson about campus parking?
“He’s gotta park where he’s supposed to park,” Sarkisian said.
Ewers tweeted about the towing incident Saturday but didn’t offer much more than a sheepish smile about it Monday. He wouldn’t say if it was his new Aston Martin that was hauled away from the garage next to the stadium.
But Ewers insisted he had to pay the fine to get it back.
“I’m a regular student,” Ewers said.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson, who drives a Lamborghini, offered Ewers the secret to game-day parking: “I get dropped off.”
AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this report.
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