Film Room: Looking into the details of Arch Manning's Longhorn debut

On3 imageby:Joe Cook11/26/23


An injury to Maalik Murphy suffered during Keilan Robinson‘s kickoff return for a touchdown shook-up the Texas depth chart during the Longhorns’ Friday contest with Texas Tech, moving Arch Manning to the No. 2 spot behind Quinn Ewers.

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Texas surged to a 50-7 lead over the Red Raiders, and with moments remaining in the third quarter Steve Sarkisian elected to rest his starters for next week’s Big 12 Championship. In came the backups, including Manning to make his Texas debut.

The crowd recognized the moment, and many of the 102,000-plus rose to their feet to cheer for the 2023 On3 Industry Ranking’s No. 1 prospect.

“When Arch went in, the crowd was buzzing,’ Sarkisian said Friday. “We had to try to quiet the crowd.”

Longhorn fans and national college football at large had been waiting for Manning’s debut, but Ewers’ held a grip on the No. 1 spot and Murphy had been the backup quarterback all season. No opportunity had existed for Manning to enter until the very last game of the campaign. Pent up anticipation was released with the loud cheers.

“I told him from the beginning they’re going to go crazy when he goes in,” Ewers said Friday. “It was cool to see. He knows it. He went out there, made some plays, and had some fun about it. We were talking about it after, he was like ‘it’s so much more fun in-game.’ I was like, of course. He got good playing time and it was cool to see everybody showing love.”

The Inside Texas film room assesses several moments from Manning’s debut.

Q3: 1st and 10 (-45)

arch debut
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A handoff to start off the career. I hope you remember where you were!

Lets get to the decisions and the plays he made.

Q3: 3rd and 4 (+49)

arch scramble
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It’s not entirely clear what Tech is doing on defense here, but Manning probably sees the backs of enough jerseys to think it’s man. Either way, the backs of jerseys are backs of jerseys and eyes not on him, and Manning trusts his ability to pick up the yards needed before sliding down, showing off athleticism neither of his uncles had.

Q4: 1st and goal (+8)

arch fumble
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As to be expected in a 43-point game, most of Manning’s responsibilities were to hand the ball of to Savion Red and Tre Wisner. That looked to be the case on this play, where we can see that even No. 1 overall prospects get freshman jitters.

Connor Robertson‘s snap is marginally high but not high enough to where Manning needs to leave his feet. The excitement of the moment may have gotten to Manning, who still manages to jump onto the football and take a good lick in the process.

Q4: 2nd and goal (+18)

arch good scramble
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This looks like a busted version of a multi-level RPO on the short side of the field. Casey Cain is read one and he’s covered. DeAndre Moore is read two and he’s covered. Juan Davis got knocked off his route and isn’t an option. There are O-linemen way downfield, and Manning knows he can’t throw or else he’s taking a penalty.

So he scrambles, and really puts the athleticism on display. He evades one tackler, then gets around the corner and makes it up the sideline before stepping out at the six. There’s a little bit of everything here with recognition and athleticism, and the Longhorns go into two-down territory.

Q4: 3rd and goal (+6)

arch inc1
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Another RPO opportunity for Manning and this is the correct read considering the linebacker AND the safety vacate their area. Moore is the intended target, and he might get a hand on the ball, but Dadrion Taylor-Demerson is all over him and gets credited with the PBU. The ball is well placed but the defender just makes a good play on the arms of the receiver.

Q4: 4th and goal (+6)

arch cook inc
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One of the loudest cheers of the day was when Sarkisian left Manning and the offense on the field for this fourth down attempt. This is a pass all the way, and Sarkisian sends Johntay Cook on a route where he’ll have the opportunity to run past his defender and behind the Red Raider secondary. Davis does his job by occupying defenders to clear a window.

Manning again tries to fire this one and while it is high, it does hit Cook in the hands. It falls incomplete and the Red Raiders take over on downs, but 100,000-plus give Manning a massive ovation for his debut.

Q4: 3rd and 3 (-27)

arch cook comp
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A nice, rollout design here where Moore and Davis are running routes to clear space for Cook past the sticks. Mission accomplished there, then Cook turns and runs to gain a few more yards on Manning’s first career completion. As Justin Wells noted, a glimpse of the future.

Q4: 2nd and 15 (-39)

manning cain inc
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Not exactly sure what Texas Tech is trying to do on defense again here, but Manning quickly pulls on the RPO when he sees Cain in one-on-one coverage. Simple read, simple throw. Put in a decent spot but not far enough as Bralyn Lux makes a solid play on the football. Of note, Lux is a starter or a regular for Tech. He was the player who intercepted Ewers earlier in the contest.

Q4: 4th and 4 (+49)

manning cain pass
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This might be Manning’s most exciting throw of the night if you’re a Texas fan. Manning takes a snap from the right hash and throws to a receiver on the bottom of the left numbers. That is a lengthy, lengthy throw that lesser quarterbacks can leave in the air for a long time. Manning’s arm talent is on display on this fourth-down pickup.

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It would be his last throw of the night, as Wisner took things home and into the end zone at the end of this drive to put the game at its final 57-7 margin.

Ewers is and will be QB1 for the Longhorns in their journey toward the Big 12 championship, or other loftier battles in late December or early January. But the world got its first glimpse of Manning in burnt orange on Saturday in a 2-for-5 effort, and the future of the position appears bright.

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