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With new coach, quarterback questions, Texas starts the year 21st in AP Top 25 poll

Sarkisian on preseason rankings: ‘If we listen to what people say we’re supposed to be, man, life would be tough’

Texas fans can get their first look at the Longhorns during an open practice session at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday inside Royal-Memorial Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m., and fans can sit on the west side of the stadium.

Texas will start the year probably about where a team with a new coach and quarterback questions should — ranked 21st in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

First-year coach Steve Sarkisian came to UT in January after directing Alabama’s offense to the national championship last season. But he’s inheriting a Texas squad that’s still looking up to Oklahoma and now also Iowa State in the Big 12 pecking order. 

Alabama was ranked No. 1 followed by Oklahoma and Clemson. Texas A&M will start the year ranked sixth, and Iowa State was seventh. Mack Brown's North Carolina club checked in at No. 10. 

Texas' first opponent on Sept. 4, Louisiana, will come to Austin ranked No. 23. It’ll mark the first time UT has opened the season in an AP Top 25 matchup since 1992. 

Related: See the full Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll. 

Former Texas coach Tom Herman lifted the program out of the morass of three straight losing seasons in the mid-2010s. But the Horns have finished in the top 10 of the final AP poll only once since 2009.

Texas is looking for a new starting quarterback after four-year starter Sam Ehlinger departed for the NFL. He led the Indianapolis Colts to a 21-18 come-from-behind victory Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in the team’s preseason opener.

Back home, Sarkisian was disappointed in quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Hudson Card during Saturday’s scrimmage. However, UT has another week of practice ahead and another scrimmage scheduled for this weekend.

Saturday:After first scrimmage, Sarkisian on Texas QBs: ‘Neither guy played up to the standard that I view as acceptable’

The Longhorns also debuted at No. 19 in the USA Today Sports/AFCA coaches poll, unveiled on Aug. 10. 

Neither the AP poll nor the coaches poll determine who plays in the College Football Playoff, which is still at four teams for the 2021 season. The first CFP rankings will be unveiled Nov. 2, giving UT plenty of time to win games and improve its standing among national perception.

“I really don’t care about preseason rankings. They don’t mean anything,” Sarkisian said at Big 12 media days in July. “They’re for you guys, I think they’re good for college football. For us, maybe we shouldn’t play this year because we’re supposed to finish third (in the Big 12). I don’t know. It is what it is.”

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, top left, is joined at practice by Texas ex Vince Young during practice on Aug. 7.

Sarkisian then shrugged his shoulders and said, “If we listen to what people say we’re supposed to be, man, life would be tough. Then we’d have no Saturdays, and that wouldn’t be very fun for any of us.”

Horns host open practice: Texas announced that fans can attend an open practice session at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Admission is free. 

Gate 7 on the northwest corner will open at 6 p.m., and fans will be allowed to sit on the stadium’s west side. Complimentary parking will be available in the San Jacinto garage, located on the north side of the stadium.

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.