Just as previous reports predicted, Austin native Hudson Card will be the starting quarterback for the long-awaited first week of Texas football, University of Texas head football coach Steve Sarkisian said on Monday.
Card will be the first starting quarterback since Sam Ehlinger's four-year reign came to a close as he takes to the field in front of a home crowd for the team's first game against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday.
While Card was confirmed as the first pick after months of competing with teammate Casey Thompson in training, Sarkisian said in a Monday press conference that Thompson "will get his opportunity" and likely see some playing time as well. Sarkisian and the team will reevaluate their quarterback decision after Saturday's game.
Card, a native Austinite, is a redshirt freshman who attended Lake Travis High School, earning All American and all-state honors before beginning his collegiate career at the University of Texas-El Paso. After throwing one incomplete pass and running twice for eight yards, Card transferred to UT-Austin where he served as a third-string quarterback.
Card was seen as a second choice for Thompson for much of the offseason after Thompson successfully filled in as a reliever for Ehlinger in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado. Card then came in as a third-string relief and completed one of two passes for five yards, running three yards in total.
Card will usher in the post-Ehlinger area after outshining competition in summer training. The redshirt freshman will debut alongside the new Texas team at Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4.
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This story has been updated.
The University of Texas Longhorns will start its fall 2020 football season with a match up against Texas Tech on Sept. 26, according to the new fall football schedule announced Wednesday by the Big 12 conference.
The announcement puts to rest, for now, speculation that the conference would be postponing its season until at least January, as Big 10 and Pac-12 did earlier this week. The Longhorns will play a nonconference game against UT-El Paso on Sept. 12 at the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Let's do this 🤘 #HookEm | #MyTexas https://t.co/Hv4W5twTif— Texas Longhorns (@Texas Longhorns)1597246371.0
Changing pandemic conditions could cause a reassessment later, the Big 12 board chairman said.
"The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions" commented Board of Directors Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini said in a statement Wednesday. "To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board's collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID 19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course."
A 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 delivery for #Big12FB fans‼️ Your first look at the 2⃣0⃣2⃣0⃣ Conference schedule ⤵️ https://t.co/1W00A3EYuM— Big 12 Conference (@Big 12 Conference)1597246320.0
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged the debate and concern over the discussion in the weeks leading up to the decision but said he believes the season can move forward safely.
"The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week," said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we've seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions' ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19. Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome."
According to a report by Sports Illustrated, "the decision among the Big 12 leaders came down to ramifications of not playing a season such as player mental health, structure, etc. versus the uncertain risk of playing a season."
"The Big 12's decision Tuesday night to trudge onward with a 2020 fall football season has kept alive the hope, maybe faint, that there will be college pigskin action in autumn. Hours after the Big Ten and Pac-12 called it quits, the Big 12, with a chance to shut down and bring maybe all of college football with it, stood firm. The league's top decision-makers were determined to continue marching toward a September kickoff. A group split and on the fence entering the day, Big 12 leaders settled on the side of their neighbors to the east and southeast, ACC and SEC, instead of the ones to their north and west."
This is soooo sad...like why? I feel like this puts players in an even worse position too. Like “show your loyalty… https://t.co/1keNNgpoSO— Lydia (@Lydia)1597247117.0
PTL I have a job (maybe). Mask up, wash your hands, and keep a social distance. Don’t eff this up. https://t.co/MRWWK475PZ— angela wang (@angela wang)1597202540.0
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Travis County is once again seeing a decline in the number of new confirmed COVID cases and related hospitalizations after a brief plateau, but more kids are testing positive and being hospitalized with the virus, the county's top health official said Tuesday.
Area hospitals are reporting increased capacity and adequate staffing after two months of operating in surge mode, and the positivity rate among COVID tests conducted by and reported to Austin Public Health is declining.
"Our hope is at this stage, we're pushing past that plateau," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told county commissioners during their weekly meeting.
But despite the progress, Escott said, there has been an increasing portion of children ages 10-19 testing positive for and being hospitalized with COVID-19. The age group accounted for more than 5% of the positive test results reported Aug. 4-10.
Children ages 10-19 had the highest or second-highest rate of positivity in the county in recent weeks, Escott said.
In the last week, 2.7% of the metro's hospitalizations were among children ages 10-19, which he said was higher than what the metro area had been seeing. It also mirrors national trends, he said, which are attributed to a variety of things including less frequent testing of asymptomatic children.
Nonetheless, Escott said, children ages 10-19 with known exposure should be tested to prevent an additional spread.
"You have seen that across the country there's been a significant increase in the number of school-aged individuals who have contracted COVID-19," Escott said.
School guidance coming
APH will recommend, in guidance coming this week, that area schools resume in-person classes at 25% capacity for the first two to three weeks, an idea that Escott has floated before.
"We want to make sure that the schools can manage the disease spread and new processes with a small number of students before we take on any additional risk," Escott said. "Having said that, I think doing things in a slow and methodical way is going to prevent the surge we may see if we just pack students back into school in August or September."
Continued declines in the number of new cases and hospitalizations are critical if schools are to reopen safely on Sept. 8, Escott said, especially as Labor Day and the prospect of college football games threaten to increase community transmission in the short term.
Although Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in recent nonbinding guidance that local health officials don't have the authority to shut down schools due to COVID-19, Escott feels he is within his rights to give his professional opinion.
"From my perspective, I believe I have the legal authority to do that," Escott said.
Disinterest in testing
Escott also noted that interest in testing is declining.
In late July, Austin Public Health was conducting more than 6,000 tests a week. Over the last week or so, however, it has conducted fewer than 1,400 because of a lack of demand. As a result, the department is expanding its free service to some asymptomatic individuals.
Last week, Escott attributed the decline to fewer cases emerging, a side effect of the decline and plateau the area has seen recently.
But residents have also complained in recent weeks about free tests that take days or weeks to return results, along with long lines - either of which may account for part of the decline. APH has reported improvement in both of those areas.
On Tuesday, APH discouraged employers from requiring employees to provide proof of multiple negative test results as a condition of returning to work.
This places an "unnecessary financial burden on the employee," APH said.
Instead, individuals who have had COVID should stay home at least 10 days following the onset of symptoms before returning to work, according to CDC recommendations.