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Golden: Steve Sarkisian is trying to turn this Longhorns clunker into a Texas classic

Texas is 4-5 overall and 2-4 in Big 12 play

  • Texas needs a locker-room leader in the mode of former Horn Roy Miller
  • Colt McCoy had a great performance in Arizona's win over San Francisco
  • Dallas can't explain epic no-show against Denver

Steve Sarkisian on Monday likened this coaching challenge at Texas to refurbishing a classic car.

After a forgettable night in Ames, the Horns (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) are in need of a major overhaul and the coach isn’t too worried about the cosmetic look of it all.

“It’s easy to put a new paint job on it and make it look like you’ve restored it and it looks great,” Sarkisian said at his weekly press conference.

Bohls: Two big upsets, lots of scares shake up the AP Top 25 poll

At this point, the Horns aren’t glossy or shiny. After four straight losses and needing two wins in the next three weeks to qualify for a bowl game, this outfit can’t get out of park and that falls on the coaches and, most important, the players, to pull this season out of the doldrums and into a better space.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and his team walks onto the field at Jack Trice Stadium for pregame warmups ahead of the 30-7 loss to Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win two of their final three games to reach six wins to become bowl-eligible.

I asked Sark if he had any sergeants-at-arms in the locker room who are ready to take ownership of what's happening. The coaches can only say and do so much.

Former Longhorn Roy Miller, who played an integral role on the defensive line as a freshman on the 2005 title team before becoming a great leader on teams later quarterbacked by Colt McCoy, said toughness was a staple in his college locker rooms.

Golden:Steve Sarkisian must take a hard offseason look at his coaches

Miller, a military brat from Killeen, had no problem getting in a teammate’s face to demand supreme effort. As a freshman, he played scout team and went up against future NFL players Lyle Sendlein, Kasey Studdard and Justin Blalock every day. Those battles honed his skills and his mental approach and helped prepare him for successful careers in college and in the NFL, where he played nine seasons.

Steve Sarkisian pointed to running back Roschon Johnson, seen here in Saturday's 30-7 loss to Iowa State, as one one of the tough, respected leaders in the Texas locker room.

“We wanted to be great so bad that there was no way we were leaving it up to the coaches,” Miller said via text. “Everything we did, including giving 100% grit in practicing each other made us tough. Because we chose to make our guys so mentally strong, nobody else was a challenge.”

Sarkisian pointed to running back Roshon Johnson as that tough presence in the locker room. But as much as I respect RoJo, he isn’t a starter. Texas needs one of those first 22 — he has to be a good player — to become a player-coach and demand of his teammates what he demands of himself.

When I asked Moro Ojomo the same question later Monday, he couldn’t come up with a name.

“Maybe we do need that,” Ojomo said.

It’s been been a bumpy ride, but someone in the mode of Miller will have to emerge and take the wheel before this clunker goes careening through the guard rails and off the side of the cliff.

The question: Is that guy even on campus yet? If not, there’s a long road ahead for this coaching staff.

Can’t lose to KU: Kansas’ near upset of Oklahoma has given Sarkisian the perfect motivational tool outside of this four-game losing streak.

“Just put on the game tape against Oklahoma,” Sarkisian said when asked about not overlooking the 1-8 Jayhawks.

Kansas has given the Horns problems in the past — the Jayhawks summarily ended the Charlie Strong era with that overtime win in 2016 —  and it would be beyond insulting to call this a trap game because bad teams shouldn’t be able to be trapped.

For you history buffs, the Longhorns haven’t lost five games in a row since the 1956 team that went 1-9. Head coach Ed Price was then fired after six seasons and the administration replaced him with Darrell Royal.

Sarkisian has more in common with Price, it turns out. They happen to be the last two coaches in UT history to be hired after working the previous season as an assistant coach.

Price had three winning seasons before things went south.

Sark will pull a neat trick to finish his first year above .500.

More:Texas' Steve Sarkisian is dealing with quarterbacks, losing streak and Moore's transfer

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had one of his worst games as a pro in Sunday's 30-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He hadn't played in three weeks because of the team's bye week as well as his calf injury.

How about ‘dem Broncos?: I didn’t recognize the team that Denver blasted at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

The Dallas Cowboys, for the first time in a long time, didn’t show up and got their silver hats handed to them by the Denver Broncos and journeyman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. 

The 30-16 loss will go down as the worst performance of quarterback Dak Prescott’s career, but you know, I will offer up a mulligan in this case. Jerry Jones wasn’t happy, but he also is smart enough to know that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

“I thought they had a good plan against Dak and executed it well,” the Cowboys owner told reporters. “Certainly it’s inexplicable. They played an outstanding football game against what we think is a good football team, and that’s the Dallas Cowboys.”

Dallas was horrible in all three phases and sometimes a good team can turn in one of these clunkers. Just ask the Buffalo Bills, who were favored by two touchdowns and lost 9-6 to Jacksonville. Or the Rams, who got tuned up at home by the Derrick Henry-less Tennessee Titans.

At 6-2 and in from control of the NFC East, the Cowboys are right where they need to be. They have winnable games coming up against Atlanta, the sputtering Chiefs  (on the road) and the post-Gruden Raiders, so it came as no surprise that Jerry wasn’t breathing fire after Sunday's misstep.

He understand that it’s better that a loss like this one happens now rather in a January playoff game.

Colt McCoy, master reliever: NFL backup quarterbacks work harder in the offseason to stave off those who are out to replace them, but in the cases of those who back up iron men like Tom Brady, it can be smooth sailing for years to come.

Texas ex Colt McCoy gave notice that the Arizona Cardinals are in really good hands if Kyler Murray has to sit.

McCoy completed 22-of-26 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown and lofted a perfect 50-yard bomb to Christian Kirk in a  31-17 win over San Francisco.

McCoy is this generation’s Frank Reich: a backup who can start when called upon and who will always be in demand because dependable backups seem to be in short supply these days.