Regardless of whether you’re a defensive buff, we all know that the football world revolves around the quarterback position.
There’s a reason Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning’s landing in Texas caused as much of a stir as it has, quarterback is the most important position in the sport. For a program like Texas looking for their next great quarterback for what feels like forever, Ewers could very well be the one.
Buy Longhorns tickets
The Longhorns aren’t the only program with a talented signal caller, though. In fact, the Big 12 is known for pumping talented quarterbacks left and right with recent names like Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts all coming from a Big 12 program.
Having a good or even great quarterback can be the difference between a team winning or losing games, and Longhorns fans are well aware of what inconsistent quarterback play makes. Just look at the last decade or so of Texas football.
While it’s important to have a good quarterback, it’s just as important to be able to slow down the opposing passer. Whether it was Will Grier in West Virginia or Caleb Williams during his breakaway year in Oklahoma, Texas has suffered heartbreaking losses due to stellar quarterback performances.
While this upcoming season is being viewed as the “year of Texas,” the Longhorns won’t have a walk in the park to reach the Big 12 Championship or the playoffs. According to ESPN’s FPI, Texas has the 12th hardest schedule in the country, which means there are some talented signal callers along the way.
Here is my ranking of quarterbacks who I think can cause the Longhorns the most trouble in 2023.
Andrew Peasley (Wyoming)
Texas plays Wyoming in Week 3, and while they could pull off a huge win or loss against Alabama, this offense from the Cowboys isn’t threatening enough to worry anyone. Last season, Wyoming was home to one of the worst pass violations in the nation, ranking No. 125 in passing yards and No. 122 in yards per pass attempt (5.7). Peasley proved inconsistent and imprecise, completing only 52.4% of his passes for 1,574 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
JT Daniels (Rice)
The former quarterback prodigy is now gearing up for his fourth program, and oddly enough, he will have played Texas at three of his stops. Daniels was unable to match the success he had in Georgia before getting injured and replaced by Stetson Bennett, even being pulled in favor of Garret Greene in West Virginia last season. Daniels is not mobile and showed last season that he is sensitive to forced throws. The Longhorns should have no problem taking him and Rice out.
Chandler Morris (TCU)
While TCU fans have faith in the quarterback who defeated eventual Heisman finalist Max Duggan, Chandler Morris has yet to play enough to truly be considered one of the better quarterbacks in the conference. If he can stay healthy, his ranking can easily rise.
Donovan Smith (Houston)
In terms of being a more proven and dangerous quarterback that Texas will face, the Texas Tech transfer is so high for exactly those reasons. Smith pushed the Red Raiders to victory against Texas last season. He is known to make bad pitches, but he has the intangible qualities of a quarterback that can hurt the Texas defense thanks to his running ability.
Jager Dekkers (State of Iowa)
The Brock Purdy heir didn’t have the season he had hoped for in 2022, as he threw 14 interceptions. Dekkers and the Cyclones were also tied 0-4 against ranked opponents and he appeared to be at his worst against better teams. The left-hander could make a big move after a year of experience, but there are more dangerous passers on this list.
Blake Shapen (Baylor)
Shapen continues in year three in this system and had to fend off Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson this off-season. While knocking down the play for the Bears, he had efficient moments. If he can take the next step and get some help from his passcatchers, he can emerge as one of the more consistent passers in the conference. He turned the ball less than others, so he scores higher than certain passers.
Kedon Slovis (BYU)
If BYU gets USC Kedon Slovis who threw for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns to just nine picks as a freshman, this offense could be quite dynamic. The Cougars lost a few key pieces to the NFL, but adding an experienced transfer in Slovis is something they hope will ease their transition. If Slovis turns the ball the way he has for the past few years (17 interceptions), it will be a long year and a good match for an experienced Texas secondary. Despite his struggles lately, Slovis is better than all the quarterbacks below him when he is at his best.
Tyler Shough (Texas Tech)
Shough is now a sixth-year quarterback with top-level potential. He suffered a broken collarbone in 2021 and suffered a shoulder injury last season, which limited his production. However, he has shown flashes as a quarterback who can be one of the better passers in college football, and if he can finally avoid the injury, he and the Red Raiders could upset Texas again.
Tyler Buchner (Alabama)
Injury took away Tyler Buchner’s season at Notre Dame, but he followed his offensive coordinator Tommy Reese to Alabama. He is familiar with the system and should have better weapons at his disposal, which means he could explode in 2023. He is an athletic quarterback who can dodge pressure, which as we all know is something that hurts the Texas defense and not quarterback. Of the three quarterbacks competing for Bama’s starting job, he is by far the most experienced and also the most versatile.
Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma)
The Longhorns didn’t face Dillon Gabriel in Oklahoma’s 2022 shelling, but he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the conference when he’s healthy. He has a huge arm and is difficult to knock down when he takes off. He threw for 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions while adding 315 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He led the Sooners to a 6-6 record and is looking to make a huge leap in 2023.
Will Howard (State of Kansas)
Last season was Will Howard’s best season of his career as he never gave up on the job after an injury to Adrian Martinez. He is responsible for leading Kansas State to a Big 12 title, throwing for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four picks. He saw his yards per attempt increase from 5.9 in 2021 to 8.2, while also increasing his completion percentage. Now that it’s finally his turn, Howard has a chance to help the Wildcats repeat as Big 12 champions, but more importantly, he can end Texas’ streak against the Wildcats on six consecutive occasions if he plays well.
Jalon Daniels (Kansas)
Just two years ago, Kansas was counting on Jason Bean to literally do anything to win. This past season, Jalon Daniels took the college football world by storm, even earning Heisman buzz early in the season. He already has a win over Texas behind his back and will try to change the program further in Kansas. He is arguably one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, as he threw for 2,014 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air and added 419 yards and seven scores on the ground. Of all the quarterbacks on the schedule, he’s probably the one the Longhorns fear the most.