Bohls: Texas' Steve Sarkisian is the right man for the job; A&M's win over Alabama biggest ever
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Steve Sarkisian is still the guy. Let me say that again. Despite any misgivings some may have for the first-year head coach of the Longhorns, I still think he’s the right guy for Texas and will ultimately get it done. I even think he will do so well in Austin that one day the NFL will come calling, and he will answer. You think Nick Saban misses him? Exactly. He just needs a better defense. … One thing I’ve admired is his consistent approach. Very professional, very calm, very on point. He’s steady. Never gets too high after a win or too low after a loss, even a heart-stealing 55-48 loss to Oklahoma in one of the most riveting games in this series I’ve ever seen in covering 50 of them. Sarkisian is doing the best he can with a flawed roster and won’t truly be able to remedy what ails Texas for a year or two. One thing is certain: he should have hit the transfer portal harder for offensive linemen than he did for linebackers, where he still didn’t find a difference-maker. Here’s betting he will this coming offseason. That remains the biggest gap between Texas and elite teams like it will see on a weekly basis in the SEC.
Texas Longhorns football:Bohls: Sarkisian bringing NFL approach, creative play-calling to Longhorns
2. Report card. So is Texas a really good team or not? I think it’s a good team that will never reach great in 2021. We may well find out how good Saturday in a home game against unbeaten and dangerous Oklahoma State, a team that does not fear Texas and has had more than its share of success against the Longhorns with seven wins in the last 11 meetings. Absolutely no one is talking about the Cowboys. And for all its six wins, one was a 7-pointer against Missouri State. Two, however, were against Baylor — the most improved team in the Big 12 — and a rugged if athlete-deficient Kansas State. Texas could run the table here on out, but my guess is it won’t. I’ll stick with my preseason prediction of 9-3, but I could see 8-4. … “Each week we get closer and closer,” safety B.J. Foster said. “We’ve just got to keep attacking.” … Personally I think the 14-0 lead over OU came too easily — on Xavier Worthy’s first-play, 75-yard catch and run and DeMarvion Overshown’s blocked punt to set up Texas at the OU 2 — and gave the Longhorns a false sense of confidence. That notwithstanding, I really think this game could have gone Texas’ way if any one of about six plays had provided a different result. Those were the non-call on receiver Mike Woods going out of bounds because OU would have been punting, down 14-0; Marcus Washington’s toe barely out of bounds on an almost TD catch; D’Shawn Jamison’s strip and Texas’ fumble recovery that was overturned; Darion Dunn’s failure to prevent Marvin Mims’ sensational touchdown grab; Worthy’s kickoff fumble; and Caleb Williams’ 66-yard run on fourth and 1.
3. Stop the hate. Jon Gruden told us who he is. He stepped down as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders for sending repeated, abhorrent, anti-gay, misogynistic and racist emails to the NFL commissioner, the Black executive director of the NFLPA and owners. Not one but multiple emails. And on Monday he resigned “because he didn’t want to be a distraction.” How about resigning because of what you said and how you truly feel? He disqualified himself for work in the NFL by showing his true colors. But is he alone? How many others in position of authority in the league share his feelings and views in the dark? For those who scream that we have freedom of speech in this country, they are absolutely right. But none of us have that right without the possibility of consequences. When Gruden said he was “sorry and never meant to hurt anyone,” nothing could be further from the truth. He meant it to hurt those who are different than him. I abhor the cancel culture that exists today, but some sins are so culpable that they no longer should hold their jobs if such hateful, divisive opinions are who these people are.
4. Happy anniversary. Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of Bijan Robinson’s first collegiate start. He carried the ball a modest 13 times for 59 yards and remembers it well. “I was nervous coming into the game,” he said Monday. “I was real happy. You don’t want to mess up. It was a fun deal.” … What a shame that slot receiver Jordan Whittington has gotten injured once again when he was just showcasing his immense potential. … This isn’t a great Texas team but it’s one of the most likable teams with personalities like Robinson, Casey Thompson, Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn. … Xavier Worthy is a star. Not a future star. He’s already a star. No stage will be too big for him. … Ojomo said OU’s game plan in the second half was “counter, counter, counter. I don’t think we prepared enough for the counter, and that’s their bread and butter.” That’s on the coaches.
5. An Aggie high. Texas A&M had a blockbuster win over Alabama, and I can’t overstate how important that game was to Jimbo Fisher. I’m awaiting an announcement soon that he will receive a 20-year contract extension. That said, it was the Aggies’ biggest win in school history — outside its lone national championship way back in 1939 — because it came against a giant, came in the SEC and it’s more pivotal than the Johnny Manziel-inspired victory over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa because that Aggie team didn’t follow it up. A&M started five true or redshirt freshmen in this game, including two offensive linemen. Hello, Texas. … I thought Bama might be flat after emotional wins over Ole Miss and Florida, and I also think this is the worst Saban team maybe ever. That said, Alabama was No. 1, but it was obvious A&M looked and played like the best team on the field. There was nothing fluky about this win. The question will be can the Aggies follow it up? Can they build on that, can Zach Calzada play at that level from now on, did all the maroon flaws disappear in one week’s time? Remember the last time A&M knocked off a No. 1 team. It beat OU in 2002, then lost the next week to Missouri, this week’s opponent. But THAT Missouri team was good. This one isn’t. … Alabama ran into a buzzsaw,” analyst Greg McElroy said. "That was the A&M team we expected all year long. A&M was a capable team with a red-hot quarterback.” Now which A&M will we see. It’s 4-2 with almost three guaranteed wins coming against Missouri, South Carolina and Prairie View A&M. … Don’t know if you saw last week’s video clip of Kirk Herbstreit denigrating Kyle Field as an intimidating place to play. Clearly that was before the monumental upset, but Herbie’s got a point. Before the Bama game, A&M was only 18-17 in SEC home games. Four of the wins came against lowly South Carolina. But Kyle is one of the best game atmospheres in college football. … I do know critics were bothered that I put A&M No. 12 on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot, but they manhandled the No. 1 team on both sides of the ball, even with a true freshman center and right tackle. … For those who suggest Alabama should have fallen to, like, 10th, I’d ask, “Do you really think nine other teams could beat the Tide?” I bet Vegas would make Bama the favorite in all nine such hypothetical meetings except against Georgia.
6. Leon Black legacy. Texas’ Chris Beard took his entire team to visit former basketball coach Leon Black so his players were aware of the man’s legacy. “I would argue he was the face of Texas basketball," Beard said of Black, who died Tuesday. "He played at Texas, was an assistant coach at Texas and a successful head coach at Texas. He gave Black players a chance. It was a real blessing to visit with him one on one. We were looking forward to playing in front of him, and it’s sad we won’t be able to do that.”.
7. Tips of the cap. To the Texas volleyball team, which came back from a 2-0 deficit against Kansas to win that match. Its talent depth and resolve are huge. … To the Boston Red Sox for toppling Tampa Bay with a perfect ninth inning where the Sox actually had a sacrifice bunt and scored the decisive run on a sac fly. Situational baseball. Augie is smiling. … To the Dallas Cowboys, who lead the NFL in yards per game and rank second in points with an average of 34. But the eye-popping number of 12 takeaways (second in the league) truly helps set them apart. Now they’re on to New England as Dallas tries to beat Bill Belichick as the Pats coach for the first time ever.
8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to Wane McGarity, the talented Longhorns wideout who caught nine passes from Major Applewhite for 125 yards and a touchdown when UT beat Oklahoma State 37-34 in Mack Brown’s first year in 1998.
9. At the box office. So disappointed. I’m a mega-James Bond fanatic, but Daniel Craig’s last shot at it fell short. Maybe my expectations were too high after waiting so long, but it didn’t pop with too little villain character development, nanobot confusion, a lack of Bond’s usual barbs and a bomb exploding 2 feet in front of Bond that leaves him with scratches. Gave it 6 ducks.
Crazy prediction: LSU will strongly consider hiring Dave Aranda or Joe Brady as its next coach but should kick the tires on Mark Stoops.