Transfer portal series: Sarkisian's big offseason investment yet to pay off. Emphasis on yet
Entering the 2022 season much of the excitement for Texas fans centered around the offseason additions of a talented offensive quintet. That was perfectly understandable as each has shown quality in college, has significant untapped upside, or in the case of wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, both.
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While you lament the fact I didn’t call them a Quinntet, I’ll continue.
Bad luck struck early in August during the team’s first scrimmage when both Neyor and offensive line staple Junior Angilau were lost for the season. Just like that, the quintet was a quartet.
August would claim two more as tight end Jahleel Billingsley and receiver Agiye Hall each had issues arise that led to suspensions.
Quarterback Quinn Ewers would win the job in August and after a pretty even debut against Louisiana-Monroe got off to a blistering start versus Alabama. In that contest he was injured near the end of the first quarter and he hasn’t played since.
Of the five, former Iowa State Cyclone Tarique Milton is the only one who hasn’t missed time.
To really hammer this home, take a look at the production. Then compare it against the amount of talent this group has or the expected value each would have offered, specifically Ewers and Neyor.
QB Quinn Ewers: 25/36, 69.4%, 359 yards, 10 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 166 rating
WR Tarique Milton: 1 reception for 28 yards
WR Agiye Hall: 1 reception for 7 yards
WR Isaiah Neyor: Out for the year
TE Jahleel Billingsley: Six game suspension lifts next week
Given the offseason transfer portal scholarships allocated to offense rather than defense — 5 to 2, with corner Ryan Watts playing quite well on defense — it has to be frustrating for Steve Sarkisian to see so much talent on the sidelines. At the same time, he should be excited by the development he’s seen on both sides of the ball from his returning players and 2022 signees.
A quibble some might have is the lack of an addition on offensive line, but IT detailed early on they were going to play the long game with the talented offensive linemen they were set to sign. And of course, that decision will pay off in the long run but it was compounded by the unforeseen loss of Angilau.
Texas is sitting at 3-2, and it’s hard not to wonder what might have been if Ewers didn’t get hurt. But there’s a flip side to that, too. Hudson Card has played well in his stead, as have so many other returning players who have shown improvement from last year. Jordan Whittington has been big at receiver, as has Ja’Tavion Sanders at tight end. That has helped mitigate the losses mentioned above.
What happens when this group gets more healthy and more acclimated into the offense?
Texas won’t get Neyor back this season. His value will be delayed a year, but he will return and the offense will benefit. Other than that, Texas should start seeing the offseason acquisitions start to assert themselves more as the season wears on.
Likely as soon as Saturday.