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Sarkisian: Texas, rid of ‘warts,’ on path to success

Sarkisian: Texas, rid of ‘warts,’ on path to success

9:19 PM ET

  • Chris LowESPN Senior Author

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    • School soccer reporter
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
    • Graduate of the College of Tennessee

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned Wednesday he is closing in on naming a beginning quarterback and believes the Longhorns are higher outfitted as a workforce than they had been a yr in the past to face no matter trials come their method in 2022.

Texas, in Sarkisian’s first season as coach, completed 5-7 and misplaced six straight video games, marking the Longhorns’ longest dropping streak since 1956.

“The children knew not all people in that locker room was all-in final yr,” Sarkisian advised ESPN. “I feel they may really feel it, they usually needed to weed out among the warts, among the dangerous apples. I feel they bought a way of actuality about among the issues we had been speaking about and making an attempt to instill final offseason. I do not know the way a lot they gave credence to it, after which those self same issues reared their ugly head in-season.

“They got here again in January with this mindset of, ‘We have to take this stuff to coronary heart as a result of they are going to present up once more.’ They’ve made that funding and purchased into each side of it, and you may really feel it amongst our workforce.”

Much like a yr in the past, the Longhorns once more have a quarterback battle this preseason. Redshirt sophomore Hudson Card and redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers, a former five-star prospect who spent the 2021 season at Ohio State, are vying for the beginning job. A yr in the past, it was Casey Thompson and Card battling for the job. Card earned the beginning within the first two video games, however Thompson changed him late within the 40-21 loss to Arkansas in Week 2 and remained the starter the remainder of the best way. Thompson has since transferred to Nebraska.

“Final yr was troublesome in having two gamers that had been new to the [offensive] system, and that is all the time exhausting, particularly when one in all them is not a returning starter who had actually been within the fireplace,” Sarkisian mentioned. “This yr, regardless that they’re new, Hudson’s bought a bit expertise, and Quinn is coming in from one other program. The truth is Quinn ought to actually be a freshman in school. He reclassified after preseason camp had began. It was sort of a wash of a season for him.”

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Sarkisian is heartened by the connection between his two quarterbacks regardless of the extraordinary competitors and the truth that they “aren’t consumed with what the opposite man is doing.”

Sarkisian mentioned each gamers have made some performs this preseason, whereas “each of them have rising pains, however that is camp.”

He added that he believes he “has an concept” who’s going to be the starter and would not need to wait an excessive amount of longer earlier than telling the workforce. Texas opens its season on Sept. 3 at residence in opposition to Louisiana-Monroe after which faces No. 1 Alabama the next week at residence.

One factor Sarkisian would not need to do is get right into a state of affairs this season the place he is rotating quarterbacks.

“I feel it is exhausting for a quarterback to get into rhythm that method, and I feel you play in a different way realizing, ‘Hey, I do not know what number of throws I’ll get,’ and you are taking too many possibilities,” Sarkisian mentioned. “I simply do not suppose the decision-making is superb.”

A yr in the past, Sarkisian mentioned Card unfairly bore the brunt of the Arkansas loss when the Hogs jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead and led 33-7 late within the third quarter when Thompson entered the sport.

“The truth is that we did not play very nicely as a workforce, and I am unsure we ever recovered from that loss,” mentioned Sarkisian, who caught with Thompson because the starter as a result of the Longhorns had extra success ending drives these first three video games when he was on the sector.

“But it surely by no means bought comfy. It was backwards and forwards all year long, and we by no means discovered our rhythm. I am an enormous believer that place is an important place in sports activities for a cause, as a result of that individual instills perception in all people else within the group, the offense, the protection, the teaching employees, the followers, all people. … And we by no means bought that final yr. We simply by no means bought that mojo the proper method.”

Throughout the Longhorns’ six-game dropping streak, they misplaced three of these video games by eight or fewer factors to nationally ranked groups. There was additionally a fourth loss in additional time to Kansas, with the Jayhawks successful in Austin for the primary time.

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“The [quarterback situation] is a a lot larger deal to individuals exterior this system,” mentioned Texas junior operating again Bijan Robinson, who rushed for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns final season and likewise caught 4 landing passes. “It is on us across the quarterback to make him comfy, make performs for him and be there for him the entire season and never simply components of the season. The factor we have to do that season is end video games, and that is not simply on the quarterback.”

Because the losses mounted a yr in the past, Sarkisian was cautious to remind himself how vital it was for him “within the midst of loads of storms occurring” to take care of a degree of consistency with the workforce, media, donors and followers.

“We had been going to remain the course with what we imagine in and the way we will do it over time, not panic, and we had been going to come out on the opposite facet the place there’s that ray of sunshine,” Sarkisian mentioned.

A giant a part of that sunshine could be present in a 2023 recruiting class ranked No. 3 nationally by ESPN, one that features the nation’s prime quarterback prospect in Arch Manning. It is the sort of recruiting momentum that hasn’t been misplaced on Texas’ present gamers.

“You see the gamers leaping onboard, and it is vital for us this yr to maintain that momentum occurring the sector and put this program again the place it is speculated to be,” Robinson mentioned. “You possibly can see it, and you may really feel it.”

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