Most of the reports coming out of the first scrimmage of training camp, including those from Sarkisian himself, told of the Longhorn defense dominating regardless of who was playing quarterback, running back, receiver, etc.
“Obviously, there’s lots of things to improve on and that’s mainly what I focus on, just things that I can do better,” Card said August 15. “I feel like collectively, as a team, we’ve been getting better throughout the whole week. In the scrimmage, the defense did really well. Hats off to them.”
Training camp is about trying to get as many reps in as possible, good reps no less, then correcting the problems in film study and on the practice field the following day. For a difficult sport like football, the pursuit of excellence is a constant struggle. That applies to all positions, from kicker to quarterback.
“I think the game of football is really hard to be perfect at,” he said. “Obviously, that’s what I’m striving for. That’s what we all strive for. But there’s going to be plays, whether that’s practice or a game, that you wish you had back. Or things that you could do better. That’s the beauty of it, just to try and strive for greatness and for perfection. There’s definitely days where I could have done things better, and that’s how you learn. That’s how you grow.”
And growing against the defense is what Card said he enjoys the most.
“I mean for me, I feel like going against the defense good on good, usually at the end of practice is what we do, is always a highlight,” Card said. “That’s always when it gets really fun and where a lot of the competition comes into play. That’s why we play the game. It’s a game-like environment. It’s fun. It’s competitive. It stresses certain things that you can do better. It’s rewarding.”
The August 14 scrimmage offered plenty to learn for Card, Thompson, and the entire offense. But on August 16, a clear checkpoint took place in the quarterback competition.
Card began to take more and more of the first-team reps following scrimmage No. 1 after there previously had been an even split between he and Thompson.
In the midst of a quarterback competition, one Sarkisian repeatedly said was his most difficult as a head coach, that’s a major milestone. While it affected the volume of snaps he received with the first team, the shift in allocation did not change Card’s approach.
“For me, I was just trying to stay focused and take it day by day, and just go out there and control what I can control,” Card said August 22. “Coach Sark did a good job of evening our reps, so we both got opportunities.”
‘Control what I can control’ was an oft-repeated phrase by Card throughout his interviews with Inside Texas. He was also consistent in his diplomacy regarding the quarterback competition.
But go back to what he said about what he needed to do in order to win the job. Gaining the confidence of the team is a must for any quarterback. How did that progress after a clear checkpoint like the one after the first scrimmage?
Again, he just controls what he can control.
“I think our team has done a great job at rolling with whatever guy is going with them,” Card said. “Our team supports both me and Casey a whole lot. I’m just trying to go out there and do the best I can for them and for my teammates. It was cool just trying to get more people on board, but at the end of the day I just control what I can control and things will lead that way, hopefully.”
Card continued to take that approach leading up to the second scrimmage on August 21. He mentioned the team, specifically the offense, grew from the first scrimmage and made adjustments to help them during the week of practice.
One of those practices included fans. On August 18, a couple thousand Longhorn fans watched a full two-hour practice at DKR. Card was able to interact with fans, and even repped his autograph which he described as a work in progress.
“I signed a couple,” Card said. “It was cool. There was one little kid who had a jersey on, a No. 1 jersey. It was really cute.”
Two more days of practice followed from the open session before scrimmage No. 2. Card kept taking the majority of the first-team reps. That lead into a scrimmage on the 21st.
“I think each and every day I try to bring my A-game and do what I can to get better,” Card said. “This scrimmage, especially after the defense did a great job last Saturday, just to go out there and play well, just continue to grow our confidence within the offense, and just try to improve on the things we struggled with last week.”
Card, Thompson, and the rest of the offense had a much better day in the second scrimmage, but Sarkisian did not name a starter in the aftermath.
“It’s still in coach Sark’s hands and whatever decision he makes on who he wants as a starter will be his decision,” Card said. “Just going with the flow and just doing the best I can.”
On August 28, Sark reached a decision: Card would be his starter against Louisiana on Sept. 4th.
For Card, it was the next step in achieving a childhood dream. He wasn’t just the starting quarterback for the hometown team, or the next Cav quarterback to continue Lake Travis High School’s strong tradition. This was the team he grew up wanting to be on. Wanting to lead.
“Whatever he says and whatever the coaching staff wants me to do, I’m going to roll with,” Card said.
Card leads by example. He has confidence in his ability, even if he doesn’t always vocalize it. But when he does…
“All the hard work and training I’ve put in in preparation is leading up to this and into the season,” Card said. “For me, just trusting my training, trusting what I’ve been coached to do, try not to do anything out of the ordinary or be a superhero, just play within the system. When certain aspects come up where maybe I have to make a play here or two and go off, then make a play.”
Now, his focus turns to Louisiana. It isn’t his debut as a Longhorn, but rather his debut as a starter. The Ragin’ Cajuns are no pushovers. Card knows what his first opponent will bring.
All that’s left for him to do is control what he can control.
“For us, we just try to focus on ourselves and our preparation,” Card said. “It doesn’t matter too much about the opponent. We know they’re a great team and they’re going to come in here and give it their all. That’s just where we have to come in, prepare, and be ready week one.”
Hudson Card’s personal YouTube channel can be found here.