Bohls: One QB change later, Sarkisian senses a strong Texas psyche in Arkansas aftermath
Sarkisian chose not to blast his team after horrible loss to the Razorbacks so they would hear his message
- Texas coach Steve Sarkisian showed Monday he's not afraid to make a big change at quarterback.
- Sarkisian chose not to blast his team after horrible loss to Hogs so they would hear his message.
- Longhorn players blamed "a lack of communication" for much of their bad play Saturday.
There were all sorts of interesting revelations that emerged out of the debacle that was Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
Here’s a quick rundown for you.
For starters, Steve Sarkisian made a switch at quarterback on Monday after two games. High marks for a good decision in going with the more seasoned Casey Thompson over the inexperienced Hudson Card, which suggests the coach understands the sense of urgency that is attached to this job, even if the Longhorns are playing overmatched Rice on Saturday.
Texas players said they were glad the 19-point embarrassment against Arkansas came in Week 2 rather than later in the season. As if there isn’t any possibility it could happen again. Stay tuned.
Sark said he didn’t scream at the players after the 40-21 defeat. Figured the message would be lost if he came out “loud and berating them.” Uh, maybe. Something tells me Sark mentor Nick Saban would have raised the decibel level in the locker room.
The Longhorns have full confidence in their offensive line. Why, we’re not sure.
The defense missed a ton of tackles against Razorbacks running backs who, well, ran wild all game to the tune of 333 yards. Texas defensive tackle Moro Ojomo couldn’t say how many exactly they missed, but admitted the tackling was “piss poor.” No argument there.
Several of the players have openly suggested the team wasn’t ready for the onslaught of hostility in a rare environment at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. They blamed many of their problems on “a lack of communication,” which is never a good thing.
So here are the Longhorns sitting at 1-1, knocked out of the top 25 and hurting and maybe even a little bewildered. Just how good or bad is this team? No one knows, but fans have to pray it’s not nearly as bad as the product that was on the field Saturday.
How the players react will be the key with Big 12 play starting in just two weeks.
“So the challenge is, regardless of the opponent, is how do we get as close to perfection and chase perfection as we can at every position,” Sark said at his Monday press conference. “And so I think that's the mindset with our team. I like the way they came in today with a workman like mentality, which is good. So I feel good about moving forward.”
Of course, Texas didn’t hardly flirt with perfection Saturday. In fact, it didn’t even flirt with okay.
Sark inexplicably noted that “only one team in the history of the NFL” has ever gone undefeated, and it’s safe to say no one has confused the Longhorns for the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
We do get the reference, but Sark’s also conveniently forgetting that Alabama was perfect just last season, and so was LSU in 2019 and Clemson in 2018. So it does happen in college football.
But it’s not happening in Austin in 2021. At this rate, Longhorn Nation would probably settle for an eight-win season although the Big 12 is not looking all that formidable yet.
So Sark is preaching overcoming adversity this week, and the Razorbacks offered a whole bunch of it last weekend.
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But Ojomo was emphasizing another "A" word. Accountability, which is too often in short supply around there.
“You have to be accountable,” Ojomo said. “You have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘How can I be better?’ “
First, Sark has to make sure he’s playing the right people, and he’s not afraid to make moves.
He’s making a change at quarterback because Card did little to be effective against the Hogs, going three-and-out on five of his first seven possessions. Sark said the redshirt freshman was “antsy in the pocket when he didn’t have to be” and wasn’t very accurate with his passes and endured drops from his receivers when he was.
It all spelled out a big-time defeat, so Sark and his staff are making a change.
Seems he should do the same up front and give more snaps to freshmen or second-year players like Andrej Karic, Hayden Conner and Tyler Johnson. Would it really hurt?
The players in the locker room certainly respect accountability, and players want to earn playing time. But coaches can’t reward mediocrity either and be hard-headed about it. Switching from Card to Thompson, even if it’s just for a week, shows Sark isn’t stubborn.
But it doesn’t hurt for Sark to raise his voice now and again.
“The best coaches in the world are great teachers,” Sark said. “I’m a leader of men, and it’s important to be very clear. When you’re loud and berating them, they miss the message. So I try to be clear and concise. That was the approach.”
All in all, Sark said he wasn’t worried about the team’s psyche and doesn’t think it’s all that fragile.
We won’t likely know this week because the entire world is expecting Texas to crush an 0-2 Rice team at home. We may not learn a single thing from this Week 3 mismatch where the Longhorns are 26-point favorites, but we’ll learn a whole lot in the following three weeks with games against Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma.
“I think our team is good,” Sark said when asked about its mindset. “But we've got to get our mindset to we hate to lose more than we want to win. And that's something that we've got to shift in our locker room. And, you know, that process is underway.”
And none too soon.