CAPTION: Elizabeth and Todd Dodge with Clemson quarterback and former and Austin Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik. Courtesy photo
The Texas Longhorns lost and added a wide receivers coach since the end of the 2022 season. Reports surfaced that head coach Steve Sarkisian will add another special assistant the staff, much like he did in 2022 when he hired former TCU head coach Gary Patterson.
The belief is this time, it’ll be someone to help on the offensive side of the ball. My take is it should be Todd Dodge.
Let’s review the end of the 2022 season. The Longhorns lost to Washington 27-20 at the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29. Redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers completed 31 of 47 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown. An argument could be made that had sophomore receiver Xavier Worthy not had two crucial drops in the second half, Texas may have won the game.
Before the Alamo Bowl, Texas lost to TCU 17-10 in a game where Ewers struggled.
At that time, the Longhorns had not scored an offensive touchdown in the second half since they beat Iowa State Oct. 15.
Following that TCU loss, fans once more were clamoring for a quarterback change, specifically inserting sophomore quarterback Hudson Card. The first time that was heard was after Texas lost to Oklahoma State 41-34 Oct. 22 on the same day Clemson true freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik, an Austin Westlake graduate, led the Tigers to a 27-21 win against Syracuse.
Let me state clearly a change needs to be made. But I’m not sold on the change coming in the player position. Let’s discuss making a change at quarterback coach and hiring who is the best coach of that position I’ve ever been around and covered — Dodge, who spent two seasons as the head coach at Marble Falls before accepting his dream job at Westlake. Even then Dodge was a first ballot Hall of Famer and in listening to people compare Ewers to Dodge when he was the Texas quarterback, I was more convinced to share the following with you.
When it comes to scripting plays, Sarkisian is near the top in all of football. And people will point to the fact that Sark has coached some incredible quarterbacks while he was on the USC staff: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. Throw in Jake Locker at Washington and Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones at Alabama and people can argue that Sark knows the position well. Agreed.
But he was a position coach or coordinator for all of those players minus Locker. Therefore, he spent tons of time simply creating the game plan and doing what most people who enter that profession love — coaching players. At Texas, Sark is the head coach and most know that position calls for that individual to be available for all sorts of added responsibilities. Among the biggest are media and fan availability. In short, Sark doesn’t seem to have the time to devote to coaching what is the most important position in all of sports.
Meanwhile, Dodge has been more than terrific at being a quarterbacks coach. Let’s look at who he coached dating back to his days at Southlake Carroll where he was one win away from an 80-game winning streak and five consecutive state titles: Chase Wasson, Chase Daniel who is the highest paid back-up quarterback in NFL history ($41 million), Greg McElroy, who was the Alabama quarterback in 2009 that beat Texas for the national title, and son Riley Dodge, who committed to Texas and then changed his commitment to play for his dad at North Texas.
The elder Dodge was the University of Pittsburgh quarterbacks coach for Todd Graham before he spent two years at Marble Falls. His first quarterback in purple and gold was Mike Richardson, who set a state passing record for most yards in a game at 715 in a 62-55 win against Boerne Champion in September 2012. His second quarterback, Brennen Wooten, was one touchdown away from leading the Mustangs to the playoffs in 2013.
By 2014, Dodge was on the Westlake sideline where he coached Sam Ehlinger, a Texas legacy who is now with the Indianapolis Colts, Kirkland Michaux who was a Blinn pitcher before landing on the University of Illinois football roster as a freshman in 2022, and Klubnik.
Hiring Dodge to coach quarterbacks will give Ewers a comfort level he hasn’t had since since high school because Ewers played for Riley Dodge at Southlake Carroll.
Let me be very clear. My confidence in Card wasn’t as high simply because I didn’t believe he had the quarterback coaching that Ehlinger, Ewers or even Baker Mayfield received. Mayfield was the quarterback in 2010 when Llano head coach Matt Green was the Lake Travis offensive coordinator. Green is an incredibly gifted quarterback coach, too. But Dodge gets the nod because he already has coached on the collegiate level.
To say that inserting Card will yield the same results that Klubnik gave Clemson against Syracuse makes little sense to me because I saw firsthand how Dodge develops quarterbacks. And I don’t the Texas quarterbacks getting the teaching or coaching they desperately need in order to have the success the Longhorns want in the sport.
Few people love the Texas football program more than Dodge, who played the position for the Longhorns from 1982-85. He is partly credited for the Texas spread offense and he can do for the Longhorn quarterbacks what he did at Westlake and Southlake Carroll — be awesome and win.
Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports by going to Fierro’s YouTube channel and searching for The Broad Podcaster. Please like, subscribe and share.