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Scouting Report: UTSA

(Photo: USA Today)
Texas will have to pick themselves up off the mat quickly following a close loss to Alabama as they prepare to welcome UTSA to Austin on Saturday night. The Roadrunners are coming off a 41-38 overtime win over Army and are coached by former Texas assistant Jeff Traylor. Let's take a look at what to expect from a veteran-laden UTSA squad.
Offense
The Roadrunners have 9 senior starters on offense, led by QB Frank Harris. Harris is in his 3rd season as the full-time starter and has already thrown for 696 yards through two games this season. The lefty has tossed 6 touchdowns compared to just 1 interception. He has the luxury of throwing to 3 senior receivers: Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De'Corian Clark. The trio has hauled in 50 of Harris' 60 completions on the season, with Franklin leading the way with 20 receptions. All 3 stand above 6'1 and are very reliable targets.
The big question mark for UTSA comes on the offensive line, where they have been dealing with injuries and inconsistent play. Traylor said earlier in the week that they were down 4 offensive tackles at one point last Saturday. Venly Tatafu, who normally plays guard, has slid out to LT and the opposite tackle spot has been held down by Ernesto Almarez, but Almarez has been battling an ankle injury and exited the game against Army early. If Almarez can not go, walk-on Frankie Martinez is likely to get the start. The biggest wildcard is Demetris Allen, who was expected to open the season at LT but has missed the first two games due to an off-field issue. Traylor mentioned Wednesday morning that Allen had returned to practice, but he was unsure how ready he would be for game-action and was unsure if he would play on Saturday.
Arkansas transfer Trelon Smith and Brenden Brady will handle the bulk of the carries, but the Roadrunners have struggled overall to run the ball through their first two games. Harris actually leads the team in rushing with 93 yards.
Defense
Similar to the offense, the UTSA has a wealth of experience with 7 senior starters. The secondary is the biggest question mark of the defense but also the most experienced. The Roadrunners struggled mightily against the pass a season ago and it remains to be seen if their secondary play will be any better this year. Safety Rashad Wisdom is their best player and is extremely active.
Up front, nose tackle Brandon Brown is one to watch. Brown leads the team with 1.5 sacks and caused a lot of issues against Army and Houston. Both struggled to run the ball up the middle. Middle linebacker Trevor Harmanson is a solid player and has registered 17 tackles on the season.
Texas has a lot of question marks surrounding the QB position heading into this matchup, which means it is tough to predict what the UTSA defense might look like. The Roadrunners gave up a ton of big plays last week against Army, a trend that carried over from 2021. If Hudson Card is able to give it a go on Saturday, the Longhorns will likely find some success in the downfield passing game.
Final Thoughts
UTSA will bring a very experienced team to Austin, and they did not win 12 games in 2021 by accident. Jeff Traylor will surely have his team ready to play and will have likely have a few tricks up his sleeve as he looks to pull the upset. 
Texas is vulnerable right now coming off the Alabama and dealing with a number of injuries. If the Longhorns play in the trenches like they did last Saturday, it will likely be enough regardless of who the QB is. But if Texas lets their guard down and tries to go through the motions, this will be a close game in the 4th quarter.

"Better Never Rests:” Key Takeaways from Sarkisian's 9/12 Press Conference

Photo: Ryan Swantkowski
Texas Football Head Coach Steve Sarkisian's press conference on September 12th was full of memorable quotes that described his team and their game against Alabama on the 10th. The most impactful one, though, may just be the phrase that was used more than once: "Better never rests." Sarkisian emphasized throughout the entirety of the presser that they must continue to improve "individually... and collectively on each side of the ball and on special teams". This improvement may be tough to accomplish as Texas lost their starting QB Quinn Ewers to an upper body injury that is expected to sideline him for 4-6 weeks, along with other injuries to players such as QB Hudson Card and DB D’Shawn Jamison. Sarkisian was asked about these players statuses and responded by stating "they are day-to-day".  
Towards the middle of the presser, Sarkisian addressed the outside voices from around the college football world after their loss to Alabama stating "to quote my old boss, we got to be careful of the rat poison". He emphasized the importance of quieting the noise outside of the building and "focusing on us and our preparation". He also touched on how special the atmosphere was on Saturday at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium and said the team felt like they "were one with our fans". 
The Longhorns’ next game will be a 7 P.M. kickoff against UTSA in Austin on September 17th. Will this game show, even though the 'Horns are a little banged up, that better really does never rest? 

Notes and Quotes from Steve Sarkisian's UTSA Game Week Presser

Following this past weekend's game against top-ranked Alabama, Longhorns head coach addressed the media on Monday to discuss the team's next game against UTSA.
Below, you can find some of the takeaways from this week's press conference:
Notes:
Sarkisian spoke highly of Roschon Johnson and his selflessness. Did not deny the possibility that Johnson might see some snaps at wildcat quarterback, similar to last year's game against Kansas State, with multiple quarterbacks being injured. Stated that Quinn Ewers, Hudson Card, Bijan Robinson, and D'Shawn Jamison are all day-to-day and that none of the players have structural damage.  
 

Ewers, Jamison, Bijan, Card: Monday Injury Update

Photo: Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) lost a nail-biter to top-ranked Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC)on Saturday and the hard-fought battle came at a price.  Starting quarterback Quinn Ewers left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury sustained when linebacker Dallas Turner hit Ewers and landed on top of him. Turner was flagged for roughing the passer and Ewers hit the medical tent and subsequently the locker room.  He would return to the sideline in street clothes and his left arm in a sling later in the game.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian acknowledged the shoulder injury in his postgame press conference on Saturday, but had no information other than Ewers would undergo an MRI and be further evaluated.  Initial reports from ESPN's Pete Thamel indicated an SC sprain to Ewers' left shoulder (non-throwing) with a recovery period of 4-6 weeks.
Backup quarterback Hudson Card entered the game and performed well, but suffered an ankle injury early in the 3rd quarter.  Card played the remainder of the game with a noticeable hobble, but managed to play well enough to keep Texas in the game, giving them a chance to win inside of two minutes remaining.
Defensive back D'Shawn Jamison also left the game with an ankle injury in the first half, after almost intercepting Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Although he played the entire game against the Crimson Tide, star running back Bijan Robinson suffered a shoulder injury in Saturday's loss.
On Monday at his weekly press conference, Sarkisian disputed media reports about the severity of the injuries, saying all of the aforementioned players are "day-to-day."  The head coach furthered that statement by clarifying that none of the injuries are structural, have no ligament damage and do not require surgery.
Sark was asked who took first team snaps at practice today and responded with "that's for me."
Texas fans wanted to know who would step in should Card be pulled on Saturday do to the injured ankle, and that answer came today.  Austin High graduate and local product Charles Wright was the "next man up" should the team need another quarterback, according to Sarkisian.
When asked about the status of true freshman QB Maalik Murphy Sarkisian promptly responded that Murphy is not healthy.
In summary, the news from Monday's press conference is really no news - which is good news for Texas fans.
The Longhorns are preparing for Jeff Traylor and the UTSA Roadrunners who will visit DKR on Saturday after beating Army 41-38 in OT last weekend.
 

The Good, Bad & Ugly Following the Longhorns' Loss to Alabama

Photo: Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK
Texas suffered narrow defeat to #1 ranked Alabama on Saturday in game that Texas players and fans should leave holding their heads high. The Longhorns entered the game as a 21-point underdog and despite losing their starting QB, and their backup QB being hobbled, Texas gave the Crimson Tide all they wanted and more. Time to discuss some good, bad and ugly from Saturday's thriller at DKR.
The Good
There was a lot of good to extract from this game, but the fight that fans and players showed is the top takeaway. This was the most attended game at DKR in Texas football history, with over 105,000 people in attendance. The fans were waiting halfway around the stadium before the sun was up. Truly impressive and incredible.  The fans need to keep that up moving forward and establish DKR as a true hostile place to play for opponents.
Steve Sarkisian and his coaching staff had their best performances overall since arriving in Austin. The staff had the team prepared exceptionally, which has not always been the case. Even after Ewers went down, it was evident the coaching staff still believed they could win and dialed in a gameplan to do so. The players clearly believed in the plan as well. The defensive gameplan was the best that has been displayed in Austin in a long, long time.

Photo: Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK
The Bad
There is no way to put this other than the refs were flat-out horrible. Refereeing, or lack thereof, on one or two missed plays is not the difference between a win and loss. However, there were at worst six missed calls with a large impact on the game - particularly in the second half. There needs to be accountability for the crew yesterday, and I hope they are not officiating any more marquee games this season. Sark is one of the most even keeled coaches out there and rarely gets too high or low, but he was certainly animated at the officials on Saturday.

Photo: Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Ugly
The BIG ugly were the injuries that the Longhorns suffered. Starting QB Quinn Ewers, backup QB Hudson Card, and starting CB D’Shawn Jamison all at some point exited the game with injuries. Jamison and Ewers did not return and that will be something to monitor moving forward. Early reports are that Ewers will miss around 4-6 weeks. While not ideal it is much better than the other possibilities. Jamison is still doing undergoing further testing and Card has what appears be an ankle sprain. Texas hosts UTSA this week and needs a healthy quarterback.

Photo:  Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas shows fight in heartbreaking 20-19 loss to top-ranked Alabama

(Photo: USA Today)
Entering Saturday's game, Texas upsetting Alabama was viewed as an afterthought. With Alabama being favored by over 20 points, the Longhorns would have been lucky to stay competitive in the contest for a half. However, the Longhorns showed fight, forcing Alabama to make a game-winning drive in the final minutes of the game to win 20-19.
At the start of Saturday's contest, things were looking promising for the Longhorns who were on Alabama's heels with redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers leading the way. However, with the ball in Crimson Tide territory, down just 10-3 in the first quarter, Ewers suffered an injury at the hands of Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner.
With Ewers sidelined, sophomore quarterback Hudson Card entered the game and put his body on the line, sustaining an injury of his own in the third quarter. However, the real catalyst for the Longhorns on Saturday was the defense, a unit which stepped up when it needed to. You could see a noticeable difference in how the team performed defensively, particularly in their ability to make open field tackles. Furthermore, defensive backs such as Anthony Cook were not afraid to lay the lumber against the opponent behind the line of scrimmage. Along with Cook, Jaylan Ford was flying to the ball all night and led the team with 10 tackles.
Unfortunately for Texas, the Alabama defense also did its job against the Longhorns, holding Longhorns star running back Bijan Robinson to 57 yards rushing. With injuries at quarterback and a lack of production from the running backs, the Longhorns had to settle for field goals - an aspect of the game which has been far from automatic so far this season. But, Longhorns sophomore kicker Bert Auburn was able to finish the night with four field goal makes on five attempts, with a miss coming right before halftime after a botched snap and hold. While Auburn showed off his clutch genes with a 49-yard field goal make to give the Longhorns a 19-17 lead with 1:29 left in the game, field goals don't kill Alabama.
As a result, on Alabama's final offensive drive of the game, quarterback Bryce Young did what he does best - make plays. In just about the span of a minute, Young was able to move the Crimson Tide down the field with his arm and legs, setting up kicker Will Reichard for the game-winning field goal with only a few seconds left in the game.
There were plenty of tumultuous turns during the highly-anticipated non-conference matchup, from Ewers' injury to Ryan Watts' missed sack to a no-call on a potential safety on Alabama's Bryce Young, which would have given the Longhorns a 12-10 third quarter lead with the ball. Ultimately, Alabama was able to ride the tide and struck when they needed to.
Following the game, Bijan Robinson discussed his takeaways from Texas's game against Alabama and said, "It's a growing lesson for this team. We understand that we came out here and never gave up."
Sarkisian remained just as positive as Robinson, after the Longhorns were able to push the nation's top-ranked team to the wire saying, "We didn't lose today, we just ran out of time."
In addition to the nail-biting football game on the field, the game day atmosphere was notably electric. In fact, Saturday's game set the attendance record for Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium at 105,213. Texas wide receiver Jordan Whittington said that "We got the best fans in the country... it was loud... we even had to tell them to chill so we could get the play."
Next weekend, the Longhorns will once again play at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, this time with UTSA set to come in town at 7 P.M. (CT). The game will be aired on the Longhorn Network.
Game Stats:
QB Hudson Card: 14/22, 158 passing yards QB Quinn Ewers: 9/12, 134 passing yards RB Bijan Robinson: 21 carries, 57 rushing yards, 1 touchdown WR Xavier Worthy: 5 receptions, 97 receiving yards LB Jaylan Ford: 10 tackles, 1 sack

GAME DAY: Texas Longhorns vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

The barometer for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Football program begins its reading on Saturday as the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide head to Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin.  While the Longhorns lead the Tide all-time in wins (7-1-1), Nick Saban's team has dominated college football for the last 10 years, appearing in 7 national championship games and winning five of them.
Alabama is favored by roughly 20 points, in a contest that little to none give Texas a chance at pulling off the upset win.  The stakes are high in the 11:00 am kickoff, particularly for Texas, which looks to prove that they are an improved team under year two of Sarkisian.  Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young leads a prolific Alabama offense, while on the Texas side, highly touted Quinn Ewers looks to prove he can make an impact early on in his career on The 40 Acres.
Regardless of the outcome, this is the biggest game that has taken place in Austin in half a decade.  Most expect the Longhorns to lose, but a win would do wonders for Sarkisian and the Texas program.
Historically the Longhorns are 5-11 against the #1 ranked team, including 2-2 over their last four games.
What: Texas Longhorns (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
When: Saturday, September 10th, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m. (CST)
TV: FOX
All-Time Series: Texas leads Alabama 7-1-1
Last Meeting: Alabama defeated Texas 37-21 (1/7/2010 - Pasadena, CA - BCS National Championship Game)
Relevant Information:
Scouting Report: Alabama Crimson Tide Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Alabama What a Historic Upset Against #1 Alabama Would Mean for the Texas Longhorns Discuss the Texas Longhorns vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Game

What a Historic Upset Against #1 Alabama Would Mean for the Texas Longhorns

Photo: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Texas fans, close your eyes and imagine Texas defeats Alabama Saturday...
That would be the biggest win in Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in quite some time, if not ever. The Longhorns are a 20-point underdog and will undoubtedly have their hands full with the Crimson Tide. If you listen to all the prognosticators, there is a likely outcome.  Then there is a what-if?  Let's discuss what a win on Saturday would do for Texas as a program should they knock off #1 Alabama.
Although the Longhorns have had some big upsets in their decade plus of mediocrity, they have been unable to turn that momentum into anything of significance. Since Colt McCoy's departure the Longhorns have had just one 10-win season and have lost at least four games in every season.
Winning a game like this would give Steve Sarkisian and Texas much-needed confidence and momentum that could carry them through the rest of the season. Last year following the blown lead to Oklahoma in Dallas, the Longhorns managed to consistently blow leads in similar fashion in subsequent games. A victory over Alabama could turn the tide, no pun intended, and allow Texas to achieve success that they haven't seen in many, many years.
The roster yields an extremely young team, with 57 freshmen or sophomores on the team. Having that kind of youth causes shaky confidence as far as depth is concerned, a problem the Crimson Tide doesn't have to worry about. Nobody is picking Texas to win this game and if they pull off the upset, the underclassmen are going to have unshakable confidence moving forward. Talent has never been the issue at Texas, and now the Longhorns have at minimum, some good coaching on the staff. Being able to fight through adversity and not fold so easily like they have in the last decade would be a great addition.
Furthermore, a victory would send a statement nationally that Texas is relevant once again. Not that Texas is "back," but they are back to being a tough, credible opponent. Texas will be back when they are hoisting up a Big 12 Championship trophy, not winning a non-conference game regardless of who it is against.
As far as conference play is concerned, there is no reason Sarkisian and his team should not be battling for the Big 12 crown this year.  If they manage to beat Alabama, it would signal that Texas is a legitimate Big 12 contender. It would also show that the 'Horns can indeed compete with the best in the SEC, which Texas is scheduled to join in the next couple of years. Following last year’s beatdown in Fayetteville, there has been some serious doubt of Texas' ability to compete in the SEC.
Finally, a victory over the Tide would grab the attention of recruits. Several national recruits are looking for a reason to commit to Texas since Arch Manning committed in June. This would provide a great reason to jump on board. It is easy for Sarkisian and the rest of the staff to sell a vison. This would be manifesting that vison to recruits, and would make negative recruiting to the Longhorns difficult.
Texas fans, sit back and enjoy the game and the atmosphere.  These types of games do not come along every week, win or lose.

Staff Predictions: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas Longhorns

Photo: USA TODAY Sports
Top-ranked Alabama heads to Austin on Saturday for an 11:00 AM kickoff which will include ESPN's College Game Day crew on-hand.  The Longhorns are 7-1-1 all-time against the Crimson Tide, with the last meeting between the two taking place in the National Championship Game in January, 2010.  Nick Saban brings a Heisman winner into Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in quarterback Bryce Young, while heralded Texas QB Quinn Ewers looks to prove he can lead Texas to a big win early on in his career on The 40 Acres.  Underdogs by roughly 20 points, do the Longhorns have what it takes to pull off the upset of Saban and the Tide? Our staff weighs in with thoughts and predictions on Saturday's contest in Austin.
Jameson McCausland (1-0)
If Texas had Isaiah Neyor and Jahleel Billingsley available, I would look at this game much differently. I believe Texas will be able to scheme up some things offensively to keep them in the game early, but it is going to be tough to trade punches with the Crimson Tide for 60 minutes.
I think Texas is going to keep this game closer than many believe, but Alabama just has too much firepower on both sides of the ball.
Score Prediction:  Alabama 38, Texas 24
Devon Messinger (1-0)
The Death Star arrives in Austin on Saturday for the highly-anticipated rematch of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. However, this is by no means a similar matchup to the one that occurred over a decade ago as both programs have gone in opposite directions.
For the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, returning Heisman winner Bryce Young leads the way at quarterback and, like always, has a fair share of weapons to rely on. Additionally, the Alabama defense, particularly at linebacker, most likely keeps opposing quarterbacks up at night.
The keys for the game are relatively simple yet universal, Texas's offense has to remain efficient and refrain from turning over the football. Meanwhile, the defense has to wish for the opposite.
On Saturday, the name of the game is growth. Will this Texas team stand up to the bully of the college football block or be humiliated on national television? Will this game be a turning point in the team's culture or will they sulk when the going gets tough?
Score Prediction:  Alabama 41, Texas 24
Aaron Carrara (1-0)
David welcomes Goliath to Austin on Saturday in a hot-ticket matchup that is unquestionably the game of the week in college football.  Texas and Alabama are two storied football programs, but it is undeniable that the Crimson Tide is one of the hottest programs over the last 10 years.  The Tide return a scorching offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and a defense that gave up just 136 total yards to Utah State last week.  The Texas offensive line must do enough to give Quinn Ewers and the Texas running backs opportunities to make plays.  Unlike Texas, Alabama has tremendous depth on both sides of the ball and Steve Sarkisian has a tall task at-hand if he wants to pull off the upset over the top-ranked team in the country. Sark has talked about the progress the team has made mentally, physically and culturally since a dismal last season, and this is the game to show those strides.  
Score Prediction:  Alabama 41, Texas 27
Ryan Swantkowski (0-0)
The game football fans around the country have been waiting for has arrived. Texas handled ULM last week while Alabama did the same to Utah State. The Big Blue, though, actually finished ranked to end the season last year and went into Tuscaloosa having won two straight games against power five schools. They lost 55 to 0. This Alabama team looks as dangerous as ever with Heisman QB Bryce Young, LB Will Anderson Jr. and others. While Texas is dangerous themselves with RB Bijan Robinson, WR Xavier Worthy and unproven QB Quinn Ewers, their lack of experience on the offensive line worries me. While I believe Texas keeps this game somewhat competitive, expect the Tide to keep on rolling. 
Score Prediction:  Alabama 42, Texas 24
Mitch Lovell (1-0)
The Longhorns will play closer than the final score indicates, as the offense scores points and the defense will show better than most expect.  Alabama is simply playing at another level that most teams in the nation are not, including Texas.  
Score Prediction:  Alabama 45, Texas 28
TFloss32 (1-0)
Since their last match-up in the 2010 national title game, Alabama and Texas’ program trajectories couldn’t be more opposite. One dominant run came to a screeching halt that day while the other remains on the mountain top of CFB a dozen years later. If we’re all being brutally honest with ourselves and take off the burnt orange glasses, beer goggles, what have you, Texas will need nothing short of the best, cleanest performance they can muster on Saturday night. Even that may not be enough to take down the GOAT and this season’s championship favorite, but a lot of help from the football gods would be poetic repayment for Colt McCoy’s throwing arm. There isn’t a lot of room for analysis this week other than hoping the new kid doesn’t throw up on himself at the SEC pre-party.
Score Prediction:  Alabama 45, Texas 24

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Week 2

Following the exciting slate of games that I was able to cover in week one, I decided to do something that I have not done in the five years that I have been covering football games in Austin. Last Friday, I covered the creative inspiration for the Friday Night Lights television show, the Pflugerville Panthers. While Pflugerville has not resembled anything like the Dillon Panthers in quite some time, I was also interested to see the McNeil Mavericks in action.
Pflugerville vs McNeil
 
On Friday, the McNeil Mavericks were looking to start the season 2-0 with a win over Pflugerville. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the game did not remain close for long. The game's turning point occurred early on, following an awkward call from the officials where Pflugerville had seemingly crossed the plain of the goal line, had an official signal a touchdown, and then lost possession due to a fumble. With the big first quarter momentum swing, McNeil took advantage when senior running back Kaleb Cooper had a house call with a 99-yard touchdown rush to put the Mavericks up 7-0.
From that point on, McNeil absolutely dominated the football game and ran away with a 48-7 victory. Now, for the first time since the 2014 season, McNeil has remained undefeated through two weeks of play. However, this 2022 McNeil squad will look to avoid the same fate as the 2014 team, a year in which the Mavericks had fallen to a record of 3-7 after winning the first three games of the season.
Extra Point:
Unfortunately, there are no real extra points to have in this week's edition. However, I will say that I miss the look of old 2000's jerseys. Many teams have seemingly lost their distinct charm as their jerseys have modernized.
Miles Logged:
32 miles

Scouting Report: Alabama

(Photo: USA Today)
Texas cruised to a 52-10 victory over Louisiana-Monroe to open the 2022 season, and now all eyes have turned to a week 2 matchup against Alabama. The Crimson Tide crushed Utah State 55-0 this past Saturday and now have their sights set on Austin as Nick Saban looks to pick up another victory against a former assistant.
Offense
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is the straw that stirs the drink for the Alabama offense. Young tossed 5 touchdowns and ran for another score in the week 1 victory over the Aggies. He is breaking in several new weapons on the outside, including Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton and freshman Kobe Prentice. Burton caught a pair of touchdowns in his Alabama debut.
Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs will lead the Crimson Tide's rushing attack. Gibbs had 9 carries for 93 yards last week and is one of the top draft eligible running backs in the country. He also is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and caught 36 passes a season ago for the Yellow Jackets.
The Alabama offensive line was not particularly strong a season ago, but Nick Saban hit the transfer portal and hired a new OL coach in an effort to get things back on track. LT Tyler Steen is a transfer from Vanderbilt who has NFL talent. Converted TE Kendall Randolph has settled in at one of the guard positions next to C Darrian Dalcourt, who is in his second season as a started. RT JC Latham is only a sophomore but was one of the top recruits in the 2021 class.
The passing game is what makes Alabama go, and the Texas secondary will have to play at an extremely high level if they hope to pull off the upset.
Defense
The best player in college football not named Bryce Young might be edge rusher Will Anderson. Anderson had 17.5 sacks in 2021 to go along with 34.5 tackles for loss. Opposite of Anderson is sophomore Dallas Turner, who registered 8.5 sacks as a true freshman. The biggest mismatch on the field on Saturday will likely be Anderson and Dallas going against the Texas offensive tackles. The interior of the Alabama defensive line is anchored by seniors DJ Dale and Byron Young. Both profile more as run stoppers but have the ability to create push in the pocket.
Henry To'oTo'o and Jaylen Moody are the two primary linebackers. Moody entered the portal this past offseason but ultimately returned to Alabama and led the team in tackles in week 1 with 6. 
The Crimson Tide secondary is led by safety Jordan Battle and STAR Brian Branch. Alabama is still figuring out what they want to do at the CB spots, but they have plenty of options. LSU transfer Eli Ricks joins sophomore Kool-Aid McKinstry and redshirt freshman Terrion Arnold.
Final Thoughts
Alabama is the most complete team in college football. There is not a glaring weakness on their roster and Texas will need to play almost a perfect game to have a chance. While Texas has talented players on their roster and might be able to match up okay at certain positions, the overall talent level for the Crimson Tide is on another level. The Longhorns are 3 touchdown underdogs for a reason.

Notes from Steve Sarkisian's Alabama Game Week Press Conference

On Labor Day, Longhorns head football coach Steve Sarkisian spoke with the media ahead of this weekend's game against top-ranked Alabama. Below, you can find some of our notes from this week's press conference.
Notes:
Sarkisian was pleased with how Texas performed in week one but states that the performance was not perfect. Sarkisian was happy that 76 Longhorns were able to play in the team's season-opener. He expects some of the special team's unit's struggles to be corrected swiftly. He noted the importance of the team's practices for this week. Sarkisian highlighted several members of the Crimson Tide's front seven, such as: Dallas Turner, Will Anderson and Chris Braswell  
 

Ja'Tavion Sanders & balanced attack lead Longhorns to dominant 52-10 victory over ULM

On Saturday, the Longhorns opened the season at home against Louisiana-Monroe, and quickly sent the Warhawks packing with a dominant 52-10 victory. After suffering an early first quarter interception to the Warhawks, redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers settled in quickly and let his playmaking teammates do what they do best - make plays. 
Following the game, Sarkisian noted that it was important for him to remove the "training wheels" from Quinn Ewers and thought that the early adversity that the young quarterback faced might have actually been beneficial. Furthermore, he noted that Ewers is "astute enough to know that he has some really talented people around him," and was happy about the way that he bounced back from his first-drive struggles.
From early on in Saturday's game, it became evident that Ewers has already developed a connection with sophomore tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders, who finished the game with 85 receiving yards (leading the team) and a touchdown reception. In fact, Ja'Tavion's game-high 85 receiving yards might very well be the first time in over a decade that a Longhorns tight end led the team in receiving yards at the end of a contest.
Despite the lopsided scoreboard to end the game, the Longhorns stat sheet was relatively balanced across the board as the team made an impact in all three facets of the game. For example, D'Shawn Jamison had himself a night with a blocked punt on special teams which, was returned for a touchdown by Keilan Robinson, and a third quarter pick-six interception on defense. However, Texas's running back room was not left out of the scoring action as Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, Jonathon Brooks and Keilan Robinson all found the end zone at one point or another, with Keilan's score being the result of Jamison's blocked punt.
Additionally, along with Jamison, Longhorns defenders DeMarvion Overshown and Barryn Sorrell were flying to the ball and made several drive-stopping efforts. To finish the night, Overshown led the team with a game-high eight tackles and Sorrell accounted for a game-high 1.5 sacks.
Following the game, Sarkisian noted that the coaching staff noticed that Sorrell had "potential," and that the sophomore edge rusher has "worked on his craft and cut it loose tonight."
Overall, the Longhorns had a successful season-opening game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium but, now, the team must look ahead to the Alabama Crimson Tide, led by Nick Saban and co., who are looming. The Longhorns will host Alabama next Saturday with the kickoff set for 11 A.M. (CT). The matchup will be aired on FOX with ESPN's College Gameday also set to be in town.
Game Stats:
QB Quinn Ewers: 16/24, 225 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT RB Bijan Robinson: 10 rushes, 71 rushing yards and 2 total TDs TE Ja'Tavion Sanders: 6 receptions, 85 receiving yards and 1 TD LB DeMarvion Overshown: 8 tackles CB D'Shawn Jamison: 2 tackles, 1 INT and 1 TD

GAME DAY: Texas Longhorns vs. UL-Monroe Warhawks

The Texas Longhorns (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) host the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in the season opener for both programs.  Texas' Steve Sarkisian and ULM's Terry Bowden are both in their second year as head coaches of their respective programs.  Both teams had losing records last season, with the Longhorns ending their season with a win over Kansas State after losing their previous six games.   Like Texas, the Warhawks did not go bowling after losing their final five games and finishing the season with a 4-8 record.
Both teams look to improve on last season's efforts, with the Longhorns replacing former star quarterback Sam Ehlinger with Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers.  The Warhawks will give the starting nod to sophmore Chandler Rogers who played in all 12 games for ULM last season.
The Longhorns are 110-16-3 (.863) all-time in home openers, with wins in their last four.
What: Texas Longhorns (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs ULM Warhawks (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
When: Saturday, September 3rd, 2022
Time: 7:00 p.m. (CST)
TV: Longhorn Network
All-Time Series: Texas leads ULM 1-0
Last Meeting: Texas defeated ULM 59-20 (9/5/2009 - Austin, TX)
Relevant Information:
Scouting Report: ULM Warhawks Staff Predictions: Texas vs. ULM Discuss the Texas Longhorns vs. ULM Warhawks Game

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Week 1

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to cover two of the biggest high school football games in the Central Texas area. Today, I will remark on some of my takeaways from the season-opening week in Texas high school football.
New Braunfels vs Denton Ryan
 
On Thursday, the Denton Ryan Raiders travelled to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to take on the New Braunfels Unicorns. In the season-opening contest, two things were apparent: 2023 five-star linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. and 2023 four-star running back Kalib Hicks are good at football. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Hill, a Texas target, elected to commit to Texas A&M in July while Hicks is currently.
At the end of the night, Hill had tallied 13 tackles and a forced fumble, to go along with 70 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Furthermore, a continuing trend that I have seen in every Denton Ryan game that I have covered with Hill is that he provides the team with a bit of a necessary mean streak from the linebacker position. Thankfully for Texas, National Signing Day is still a ways away from today, however Hill appears to be the type of player that Texas can not be missing out on - especially at a much-needed linebacker position.
Along with Hill on defense, 2025 cornerback Trae Williams was able to show off his playmaking ability with an interception on defense. Moreover, Williams is certainly a prospect to keep an eye on, especially with Denton Ryan having proven to be a Division 1 talent factory over the years.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kalib Hicks was having an offensive field day for the Raiders, particularly in the first half when he hurdling defenders on his way to picking up chunk yardage. Ultimately, Hicks finished the game with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown.
With all of this being said, the New Braunfels Unicorns came into Thursday's contest looking for a fight and they certainly got one. But, in the end, the Unicorns were the last team standing despite trailing 33-14 at one point in the third quarter.
 
Lake Belton vs #8 Leander Rouse
 
In my second game of the weekend, I made the short trip over to Leander to cover Lake Belton's matchup against the Rouse Raiders. On Friday, I was looking forward to seeing 2024 five-star wide receiver Micah Hudson in action, but was impressed by the team as a whole. But, with that said, Hudson got the scoring action started off with a bang as he exposed the Rouse defense on its first play as he accounted for an explosive touchdown rush immediately.
Later in the game, Hudson made several more explosive plays, including a lengthy touchdown reception in which he made the entire defense look silly as he traversed the field and showed off his ability to go 0-60 mph a few times. Afterwards, his final performing act of the night was a heavily contested touchdown catch in which he skied over two defenders to make the grab. Additionally, one should also credit Lake Belton senior quarterback Connor Crews who was setting up his receivers for success all night. Hudson finished the contest with 7 receptions, 143 receiving yards, 2 TD receptions, 92 rushing yards, and 1 rushing TD.
On defense, one athlete that automatically stood out for Lake Belton was 2024 cornerback Selman Bridges, who is an intimidating presence in the secondary at 6'4". Bridges made an impact on the game through a pick-six interception in which he snatched the ball away from the offense. Currently, Bridges has 6 scholarship offers from schools such as Baylor and TCU.
Also in the secondary, Bruce Onchweri also was making plays in the secondary, capitalized with an interception of his own.
Ultimately, Rouse did not have the firepower to match the Broncos and Lake Belton came away with an impressive 47-21 upset victory.
 
Extra Point:
The main takeaway from week one is that Micah Hudson is a top-tier wide receiver in the state of Texas and ranks up there with former high school stars Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
 
Miles Logged: 
152 miles (total)

Staff Predictions: Texas Longhorns vs. University of Louisiana-Monroe

Photo: USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Longhorns, led by second year head coach Steve Sarkisian, will take the field at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night as they host the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.  Terry Bowden's team went 4-8 last season and lost five straight to end the season, but they aren't without talent.  Senior wideout Boogie Knight led ULM with 588 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season and Texas fans should expect to hear his name called often on Saturday.
Heralded Ohio State quarterback transfer Quinn Ewers will orchestrate a Texas offense that looks to shake off a dismal 5-7 season in Steve Sarkisian's first year in Austin.  Texas returns a strong running back corps which includes Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, Keilan Robinson and Johnathan Brooks.  All eyes will be on the offensive line, which struggled last year, but returns starters and will likely include one or more true freshmen.
Texas has been stung in season openers over the last five seasons, losing to Maryland at home and on the road in consecutive years.  Sarkisian feels that his team has bonded even closer in the off-season and through camp, which should contribute to team confidence.
It's a new season and Alabama looms next week, but the Longhorns need to get past the Warhawks first.  Do they get caught looking ahead and suffer an upset?  Or do they stay focused and play for each other and send Bowden's team back to Louisiana with a loss?
The HornSports staff gives their predictions on the outcome of Saturday's game at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.
Jameson McCausland (0-0)
The offseason is finally over and football is back. Last year, Texas had to open the season against a pesky Louisiana squad who ended up only losing one game all year. This year, Louisiana-Monroe comes to Austin and no one will be confusing the Warhawks with the Ragin' Cajuns. ULM went 0-10 two seasons ago before improving to 4-8 in Terry Bowden's first year. Despite the record improvement, this is still a huge mismatch on paper.
The biggest weakness for Louisiana-Monroe is their secondary, so it should be a good opportunity for Quinn Ewers to knock off any rust he has after not starting a game for almost two years. It is certainly possible that Texas sleepwalks their way through part of the game while looking ahead to Alabama, but the Longhorns should be able to score almost at will and put the game out of reach relatively early.
Score Prediction:  Texas 48, ULM 10
Aaron Carrara (0-0)
If Texas came out and laid an egg in the opener I would be very, very surprised.  I think we will see a Texas offense that dominates, particularly in the running game, with Quin Ewers notching a strong outing through the air in a tune-up for the Tide next week.  Both the Texas defense and offensive line need improvement this season, and this game gives ample opportunity to start things off on the right foot.  ULM just isn't that good of a football team and the Longhorns should have no problem stacking the points up in front of a home crowd.  Look for a defensive touchdown and possibly one one special teams to compliment a solid performance by the 'Horns in Week 1.
Score Prediction:  Texas 51, ULM 10
Mitch Lovell (0-0)
Texas shines ahead of their massive test in week 2 when they host the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Score Prediction:  Texas 52, ULM 14
TFloss32 (0-0)
It may sound dramatic, but Saturday feels like the beginning of a new era for the Texas Longhorns. This is the starting point for Steve Sarkisian to make his mark and entrench himself in Austin as the unquestioned leader of the program after a successful offseason recruiting and adding key pieces from the transfer portal. Thankfully that journey begins with Louisiana-Monroe as a 37.5-point favorite. This match-up isn’t one where you wonder if the good guys will come out with the W, but if they can put together a mostly clean, dominant performance against a lesser opponent and we aren’t left debating if the previous season’s issues are still lingering. What we do know for certain is the front end of Texas’ schedule gives little room for error after this weekend.
Score Prediction:  Texas 48, ULM 17
Devon Messinger (0-0)
On Saturday, the Longhorns will kick off the 2022 season at home against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. Last season, ULM had a 4-8 record and was certainly not proficient on offense - with no one eclipsing 500 rushing yards or 1,500 passing yards on the season.
Despite ULM's struggles from last year, the Longhorns were no angel on the football field either. Of course, a lot has changed since last season, including the addition of new starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. While Saturday presents Steve Sarkisian with an opportunity to test Quinn's arm, also expect the team to lean on the running game with Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. However, the real position group to watch on Saturday will be the offensive line, as it is quite possible that the unit will be needing to start four underclassmen. As a result, the season opener will prove to be a prominent opportunity for the line to get some reps in before the Crimson Tide rolls into town in week two.
Score Prediction:  Texas 34, ULM 10

Scouting Report: Louisiana-Monroe

(Photo: USA Today)
Texas will kickoff the 2022 season Saturday night when they welcome Louisiana-Monroe to Austin. The Warhawks, who are under second year coach Terry Bowden, are coming off a 2021 season where they started 4-3 but went winless in their final 5 games to miss bowl eligibility. 
Bowden has had to replace both coordinators this offseason and turnover a good portion of his roster. Let's take a look at what to expect from ULM on Saturday night.
Offense
The majority of the returning experience for ULM comes on the offensive side of the ball. The bad news for the Warhawks is the offense was not very good in 2021 and lost several key pieces this offseason, including offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez. Replacing Rodriguez is Matt Kubik, who actually previously served as the offensive coordinator at ULM from 2016 to 2019. Kubik will have to his work cut out for him, as ULM rushed for a measly 3.2 yards per carry a season ago. ULM does return their top two leading rushers in Malik Jackson (451 yards in 2021) and Andrew Henry (485 yards in 2021).
At quarterback, Bowden named sophomore Chandler Rogers the starter. Rogers started a handful of games in 2021 and appeared in all 12. He finished the season completing 63% of his passes for 1311 yards and 9 touchdowns to go along with 3 interceptions. Rogers also uses his legs fairly well (367 rushing yards in 2021). His favorite target will be senior Boogie Knight, who had a team high 588 receiving yards in 2021 with 3 touchdowns.
A big unknown for the Warhawks is the offensive line. Projected starting LT Willie Tyler, who started his career at Texas, transferred to Rutgers this offseason and the offense will also have to replace C Garrett Hirsch. Bowden has previously mentioned depth along the OL as a concern and ULM will be breaking in several young starters.
Defense
Former West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning was hired by Bowden this offseason to take over the ULM defense. The Warhawks were abysmal against the pass in 2021, allowing over 290 yards per game through the air. Things were not much better on the ground, as ULM ranked 91st in the country in rush defense allowing 175 yards per game. 
Nose tackle Caleb Thomas is a multi-year starter who does a good job in the run game, but the rest of the defensive line is a major question mark. ULM is replacing both starting defensive ends from the 2021 squad.
If there is a strength of the defense, it is at linebacker. Middle linebacker Zack Woodard is an all-conference player who is extremely active. Tristan Driggers figures to see a lot of snaps at the other primary LB spot and is undersized at 6'0 200 pounds.
ULM is replacing 5 players in the secondary who had starting experience. The Warhawks hit the portal and junior college ranks in an attempt to fill some holes in the backend of their defense. It will be hard for the unit to be as bad as they were a season ago, but the number of new faces makes this unit an unknown.
Overall Thoughts
Terry Bowden took over a program that went 0-10 in 2021 and improved their win total to 4 in his first year, which is impressive. The Warhawks could very likely be an improved team from a season ago, but it tough to see a scenario where they are able to hang with Texas. ULM has too many holes defensively and the Longhorns should be able to move the ball without much resistance. It is possible that ULM lands a few punches on offense early in the game to make things interesting, but the question marks on the OL will make life difficult for Chandler Rogers.

Notes from Steve Sarkisian's Louisiana-Monroe Game Week Press Conference

On Monday, Longhorns head football coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the media ahead of Saturday's season-opening game against Louisiana-Monroe. Below, we have listed several notes from Sarkisian's press conference with the media.
Notes:
Noted that redshirt freshman punter Isaac Pearson has looked good, while freshman Will Stone and sophomore Bert Auburn continue to compete for the starting placekicker job. Commented that he feels that this year's roster has playmakers on all three aspects of the game, particularly noting special teams play and the defense's ability to create turnovers. Stated that he believes that much of last year's struggles can be attributed to a lack of confidence. Notes the importance of a team's bond and believes that this year's roster is closer than it was in the past - giving examples of position groups hanging out off the field. Stated that the tight end position is quicker than it was a year ago.  
 

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