Following the debacle in Fayetteville last week, the Longhorns find themselves in need of working on themselves more so than this week's opponent. That involves players, coaches and a game plan that yields a solid result as they approach conference play. Arkansas should serve as a wake-up call for Sarkisian and his staff to assess personnel, schemes and coaching or it will be a long season on the 40 Acres.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line wasn't good against Louisiana, and it was abysmal against Arkansas. The Longhorns will face some really good defensive lines down the road, but this week all eyes will be on Kyle Flood's front five as they look to impose their will against the Owls. There were plenty of mistakes in Fayetteville, but the offensive line as a unit looked weak and soft. Linemen missed assignments, couldn't stop the pass rush and even let the Texas quarterbacks get hit after the whistle without retaliation. That's the one time a 15 yard penalty would be acceptable.
The fundamentals on defense left a lot to be desired as well. The tackling looked a lot like it did under several previous defensive coordinators that didn't last long in Austin. Players launching themselves rather than form technique tackling was prevalent last week, even amongst some veteran players. This is problematic for various reasons, primarily because the risk of injury is greater. More missed tackles inevitable turn what should be a five yard gain into a 25-yard gain for the opponent. Lastly, many times when a player connects on the big hit they’re looking for, there is a good chance a targeting call will be handed out.
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
Arkansas flat out-coached Texas last week. Sarkisian knew what Barry Odom was capable of, faced him many times and still didn't put a competitive plan together. The offense struggled because of the offensive line in large part, but the play calling didn’t help. Screens or short passes to Bijan would have been nice to see and could have helped get Card/Thompson in somewhat of a rhythm. We didn’t see enough of that Saturday.
The defense didn’t look ready for what Arkansas brought to the table offensively either. The Longhorns' primary goal was to force KJ Jefferson to beat you with his arm. Texas seemed shocked that the Hogs wanted to run the ball the majority of the time. With the exception of a 45 yard pass in the 3rd quarter, Jefferson passed for just 98 yards. Arkansas still ran for over 300 yards and averaged over 7 yards a carry. You won’t win many games allowing those numbers, so hopefully it was an anomaly for Sarkisian and Kwiatkowski . Rice doesn’t have the talent to match Texas but the game plan will show if they have learned from the mistakes in Fayetteville.