Ja’Tavion Sanders connection to Quinn Ewers exposed vs. Louisiana-Monroe – The Daily Texan

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Sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders quickly became redshirted rookie Quinn Ewers’ favorite target in Texas’ 52-10 loss to Lousiana-Monroe.

Sanders accounted for nearly 38% of the Longhorns’ offensive productivity on Saturday, amassing six receptions for 85 yards as Texas’ leading receiver for the night.

“I think JT Sanders had a fantastic game,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Not just receiving but blocking.”

Early shots of Ewers were flimsy. After missing second Xavier Worthy on a second and a 7, Ewers threw along the right sideline into traffic, with Louisiana-Monroe defensive back Tristan Driggers flying over from the left to pull off the transfer from the State of Ohio.

On the next drive, Ewers handed the ball to junior running back Bijan Robinson four times before attempting another pass.

Faced with a fourth and a 4, Ewers rushed after receiving the snap and spotted Sanders along the right sideline in man coverage, tossing the ball to the tight end for a gain of 5 meters to extend the drive.

The fourth conversion was Ewers and Sanders’ first pass and catch for positive yardage in their college careers.

“Just knowing that I can have an impact on this offense is a really good feeling,” Sanders said.

Just two plays later, Ewers and Sanders connected again for a touchdown. On the Warhawks 19-yard line, Ewers faked a rush attempt to senior running back Roschon Johnson before rolling to the right sideline for an easy pass to Sanders in front of the goal line.

Much of Sanders’ action on the night came from simple checks that Sanders turned into big wins. In the third quarter, Sanders caught a pass that earned him a 25-yard gain when Ewers found himself on the run looking for an outlet.

Sanders said he was supposed to block the edge rusher on this play, but became a spontaneous passing option when there was no edge rusher to find, noting that Ewers was comfortable with their chemistry to make big plays out of thin air.

“Since Quinn signed up here, we always talked about how he likes to throw to the tight end,” Sanders said. “So I was like, ‘Yeah, we have to lock ourselves up for sure. So since then we have been locked up.

While Sanders could become a safety blanket for a young quarterback with what Sarkisian calls “growing pains,” Sanders can also make flashy plays. In the third quarter, Ewers threw a 25-yard pass to the tight end in the middle through the hands of a defender.

“I saw the replay and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was a dime,'” Sanders said. “(Ewers) was like, ‘I told you bro, I’m going to put it where it belongs every time.'”

This offseason, head coach Steve Sarkisian rated Sanders as one of the most improved players through spring training and fall camp. Originally listed as a wide receiver who doubled as a defensive end at Denton Ryan High School, Sarkisian moved him to tight end, where he could be used as a physical, hybrid, and red-zone threat in Texas’ new offense. .

Due to learning a new position during the 2021 fall camp, Sanders has fallen to the bottom of the depth chart under more experienced players like fifth-year senior Cade Brewer and first-timer Gunnar Helm, mostly finding comfort. playing time in special teams with the field goal unit. .

Sanders credited his first year with little playing time as improving him both physically and emotionally.

“I already knew I wasn’t going to get that much playing time in my freshman year,” Sanders said. “I wasn’t tripping. (I wanted) to make me a better football player for this team so that I could play this year.

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