The wait is over, as Arch Manning finally saw the field the Texas Longhorns at the tail-end of his freshman season. The five-star quarterback from New Orleans was Texas' third-stringer behind Quinn Ewers and Maalik Murphy for all of the 2023 college football season. In extreme garbage time up big on the in-state rival Texas Tech Red Raiders, Steve Sarkisian called his number for the first time ever.
Manning entered the game with two minutes and change remaining in the third quarter. The Longhorns were already up 50-7 at home on Friday night. On the evening, he completed two-of-five passes for 30 yards and had three carries for seven taking over the reins of the Texas offense for Ewers. Texas clinched its spot in the Big 12 Conference Championship game in this 57-7 blowout.
While Texas awaits either Oklahoma State, Oklahoma or Kansas State in Arlington, Longhorn Nation awaits what could be coming next under center for them. Ewers could conceivably turn pro, but injury history and a lack of starts could have him back in Austin for the 2024 campaign. If that were to happen, either Manning or Murphy will serve as his primary backup, with the other guy transferring.
Here is what it looked like at DKR when Manning took the field for the first time in the burnt orange.
With a conference title bout and a College Football Playoff berth on the line, this is probably the last time we will see Manning take the field for Texas this season, barring any injuries or another blowout.
Texas football: Arch Manning makes his Longhorns debut vs. Texas Tech
Much will be made about Manning's first game for the Longhorns in extreme garbage time. Some will say that he is ready to take over the Texas offense from Ewers as soon as he turns pro. Others will contend that Murphy is the better quarterback and should be the guy to start in 2024 should Ewers declare. There are also others who are not sold on the fact Ewers is playing in his final college season.
Overall, I think it was good to see Manning get to play at least some during his true freshman season. Since he is not expected to appear in any other games the rest of the way, he will be able to keep his redshirt year in check, thus retaining four years of eligibility entering next year. However, we still have to wonder if he will ever live up to the insurmountable hype he had coming out of Isidore Newman.
Ultimately, Manning will remain somewhat of a mystery until he is starting, or even playing, in a game that has not been decided vs. major competition. It was great to see him get some in-game reps he totally earned, but we have to remember that the Big 12 favorite Longhorns are joining the SEC next season. No matter who starts under center for them, he has to be ready for whatever comes his way.
Manning looked good in burnt orange, but you can't dissect all that much from his Texas debut here.