Sarkisian 'had all intentions' of playing Arch Manning against Rice; top recruit's debut will have to wait

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For those hoping to see freshman Arch Manning get his first taste of college football last week against Rice, they nearly got it.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said the fourth quarter flew by in the Longhorns’ 37-10 win over the Owls at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, and he wasn’t going to put Manning in just to put him in. Maalik Murphy took snaps near the end of the third and the entire fourth quarter in the win.

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“I had all intentions of playing Arch in that game,” Sarkisian said. “I didn’t think the fourth quarter would go as fast as it did, and I didn’t want to put him in there for the last minute-and-a-half and use a game on that.” Rice went on a 13-play, 62-yard drive that spanned 9:24 in the final frame.

Players are allowed to appear in up to four games in a season before their redshirt eligibility goes away, and it’s not to say that Sarkisian plans on Manning to use a redshirt season, it just gives Sarkisian a little more flexibility with Manning’s eligibility going forward. If Manning appears in four games or less this season, he could potentially use this as his redshirt season and still have four eligible seasons remaining.

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Given what Sarkisian said during Thursday’s media availability over Zoom, he wants Manning to get into games this season.

“Those guys continue to work hard and compete at it, and hopefully as the season goes on, they’ll both get their opportunities to get in there and play,” Sarkisian said.

Murphy went 3-for-5 passing with 40 yards, and it could have been a more impressive total had it not been for a couple of penalties that put the Longhorns in a 1st-and-40 situation while Murphy was in. Murphy’s first completion of his career was a 14-yarder over the middle to Isaiah Neyor, and it had some heat on it. Sarkisian said Murphy has been consistent all training camp, and that earned him the backup nod against Rice.

“It has been really encouraging,” Sarkisian said. “He’s always had the highlight plays, but then there are the plays that aren’t in terms of taking care of the football. I think he’s done a much better of job of doing at, and clearly we saw some of the throws he’s able to make.”

Sarkisian said four quarterbacks will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide — Ewers, Murphy, Manning and former Austin Maroons standout Charles Wright.

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