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  1. The Texas Longhorns (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) rekindle their rivalry with former Southwest Conference Rival Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC) on Saturday night in Fayetteville. Saturday's contest marks the 79th these two teams have played one another, the first time since 2014 and only the sixth time in the last 30 years. The stakes are high for Steve Sarkisian's team which has high expectations this season, and a road win over a quality opponent would keep things moving forward for the Longhorns. What: No. #15 Texas Longhorns (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs.# Arkansas Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) Venue: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium Location: Fayetteville, AR When: Saturday, Sept. 11th, 2021 Time: 6:00 p.m. (CST) TV: ESPN On the Call: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George All-Time Series: Texas leads, 56-22 Last Meeting: Arkansas defeated Texas 31-7 (12/29/2014 AdvoCare Texas Bowl) Relevant Information: Depth Chart: Texas vs Arkansas Hog Notes headed into Game Week Scouting Report: Arkansas Razorbacks Staff Predictions: #15 Texas vs. Arkansas Four Keys to Saturday Night's Game in Fayetteville Inside the 40 Podcast: Post-Louisiana, Pre-Arkansas
  2. The Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) face another former Southwest Conference team this week as the Rice Owls (0-2, 0-0 C-USA) head to Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Saturday's contest marks the 96th time these two teams have played one another with the last matchup taking place 2019. Rice last won in Austin in 1965, when Rice kicker Richard Parker made good on a 33-yard FG gave the Owls a 20-17 win. The last time Rice beat the Longhorns was in 1994 at Rice Stadium (19-17) in which the game was moved to a Sunday night due to the MLB player's strike vacating an ESPN slot that evening. After a less-than-desirable outcome in Fayetteville last weekend, the Longhorns look to get things back on track against the Owls, who are still in search of win #1 on the season. What: Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs.# Rice Owls (0-2, 0-0 C-USA) Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium Location: Austin, TX When: Saturday, Sept. 18th, 2021 Time: 7:00 p.m. (CST) TV: LHN All-Time Series: Texas leads Rice, 73-21-1 Last Meeting: Texas defeated Rice 48-13 (9/14/2019 - Houston, TX) Relevant Information: Owl Droppings headed into Game Week Scouting Report: Rice Owls Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Rice Three Things to Watch in Texas vs. Rice
  3. Steve Sarkisian said earlier this week that Texas needed to learn to hate losing more than they liked winning. The Longhorns appear to have taken that message to heart for at least one game as they took out a lot of anger on Rice Saturday evening. Here are some thoughts and takeaways from the blowout win: It’s hard to truly gauge a lot of what we saw considering the opponent, but it should be stated Texas was 26 point favorites according to Vegas. It was expected the Longhorns would win rather comfortably, but this game turned into a route early. Texas came out with a high level of intensity from the opening kickoff and Rice never really had a chance. A week after the Longhorns’ offensive line was whipped in Fayetteville, the unit helped pave the way for a 426 yard rushing performance. Steve Sarkisian appeared to lean more on outside running schemes and was rewarded with huge performances from Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson. Texas pretty much abandoned the outside run at Arkansas, so it will be interesting to see if Sarkisian continues to emphasize the running scheme his lineman and running backs appear to be most comfortable with. Casey Thompson turned in a good performance in his first career start. Thompson finished 15 for 18 for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did toss an interception in the first quarter as he was hit releasing a deep ball. Outside of the interception though, it was a clean performance and Thompson earned another start next week against Texas Tech. Back to the offensive line for a moment. The unit still has major issues when Texas operates a traditional drop back passing game. Christian Jones was beaten badly and called for a holding penalty in the second quarter in addition to the interior of the offensive line allowing a lot of pressure up the middle early in the game. At this point, Steve Sarkisian is going to have to scheme around the weaknesses his offensive line has. Keilan Robinson showed how electric he can be with a 65 yard TD run in the third quarter. Texas is going to need to find a way to get him 5-8 touches a game and utilize his speed. He also had a textbook blocked punt in the second quarter. Defensively, there is not a whole lot you can take away from this game. This was a terrible matchup for Rice, who emphasizes trying to win at the line of scrimmage and running between the tackles. The matchup was made worse when the Owls had to turn to their 3rd string QB before halftime due to injuries. The Texas pass defensive honestly hasn’t been tested too much through the first 3 weeks of the season due to the style of opponents they were playing, but that is set to change next week. Texas Tech is coming to Austin and the Red Raiders are not afraid to throw the ball all over the field. Overall, it was the performance Texas needed after what happened in Fayetteville. The Longhorns dominated from start to finish and now have to turn their attention to conference play.
  4. AUSTIN, Tx -- The Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) handed a 58-0 shutout defeat to the Rice Owls (0-3, 0-0) at Darrell K. Memorial - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening in a game that Texas dominated from the first snap. The Longhorns scored at will on the Owls, and mixed in a variety of new wrinkles in the playbook in doing so. After a humiliating performance last week in Fayetteville, Steve Sarkisian and staff put together a gameplan against Rice that spread the ball around more and included a myriad of players that didn't see the field last week. Postgame, Sarkisian spoke on his team's ability to bounce back after a collective commitment and effort to try and improve after the loss to Arkansas. "When you have to take a big bite of the humble pie like we had to after last week, we challenged the guys that we had to own it. And then we have to get back to work. I thought the intent and mentality of our team all week long in practice translated to the game." Quarterback Casey Thompson got the starting nod from Sarkisian earlier in the week and made the most of his opportunity, throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Hudson Card replaced Thompson midway through the third quarter and finished the night 2-3 for 29 yards after handing the ball off on most snaps. Texas tallied 620 yards of total offense, compared to the Owls' 284 yards. The margin of victory was the largest for the Longhorns since the 2005 season. The offense did their job, but It was the running game that highlighted the night for the Longhorns. Texas ran wild against a struggling Rice defense and saw four different running backs score touchdowns. Bijan Robinson had 13 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Roschon Johnson had 3 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson added 83 yards and a touchdown on 5 carries, and true freshman Jonathon Brooks had 9 carries for 63 yards and a score. Rice went through three quarterbacks on the night and punted in seven of eleven total possessions. The Owls won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Texas the ball first, and an opportunity to manufacture a 9-play, 69 yard drive that was capped by Bijan Robinson's first touchdown of the night. After a Rice punt in their first possession, Casey Thompson was picked off by Gabe Taylor as he was pressured by Rice's Ikenna Enechukwu. Rice marched downfield, deep into Texas territory before Collin Riccitelli missed a 30-yard FG and gave the Longhorns the ball back. Roschon Johnson added a 72-yard touchdown run when he took a direct snap out of the 'Wild Horn' formation, giving Texas a 14-0 advantage. After three and out, Keilan Robinson then blocked Rice's punt which bounced out of the end zone and gave the Longhorns a safety and a 16-0 lead after one quarter. Bijan Robinson opened the second quarter with a bang, adding a pair of touchdown runs which included a 62 yard romp, to extend the lead to 30-0 in favor of the Longhorns. Rice punted on their next possession and Texas scored again, with Thompson finding tight end Jared Wiley for a 20-yard touchdown. The Owls' struggles continued, as they fumbled at the 1:30 mark before the half, allowing Texas to score again. Thompson threw his second touchdown pass of the night, finding Xavier Worthy for his first score as a Longhorn. At the half, Texas led 44-0. Rice opened the second half with possession but went three and out. Texas running back Keilan Robinson demonstrated his speed by outrunning defenders while ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run. After another punt by the Owls, true freshman Jonathan Brooks capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 17 yard scamper into the end zone. After three quarters the longhorns led 58-0. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter but the Longhorns were able to get a slew of reserve players on both sides of the ball into the game which Sarkisian feels is critical for the future. Texas hosts Texas Tech next Saturday at 11:00 am in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
  5. Let's jump right into it. The performance on Saturday night wasn't pretty in all phases. Offense As I pointed out in the game preview when discussing the Arkansas defense, Steve Sarkisian was well aware of Barry Odom and his reputation as a defensive playcaller. It is widely known that Sarkisian was very interested in potentially bringing Odom to Austin when he took over in January. Despite the familiarity and Sarkisian having faced Odom last year at Alabama, the Longhorns offensive gameplan had to be tossed in the trash several drives into the game. Odom rolled out his 3-down front with speedy LB's and DB's roaming behind the defensive line, baiting Texas to try to establish the run, and the Longhorns took the bait. Texas totaled 5 total yards of offense on their first two drives of the game while trying to hand the ball to Bijan Robinson between the tackles. The Longhorns did not have a drive with more than two first downs until their 11th (!!!!!!) drive. Texas faced 3rd and long repeatedly all night, allowing Arkansas to drop 8 and blanket throwing lanes to receivers. The Longhorns never really got the running backs involved in the passing game and decided they did want to try to move the ball with the short passing game on early downs. This leads into the conversation of how the QB's played. Hudson Card received the start and struggled, finishing 8/15 for 61 yards. It is obvious Sarkisian has drilled into his young signal caller to only use his legs as a last resort. As the Razorbacks rushed 3 and dropped 8, Card never really seemed comfortable taking off and running, instead opting to hold onto the ball and attempt some low percentage throws. Casey Thompson took over late in the 3rd quarter and rushed for a pair of touchdowns while completing 5 of 8 passes for 57 yards. Thompson is much more comfortable using his legs currently than Card and it shows. Texas loses this game regardless of who starts at QB, but Thompson's legs could have certainly allowed Texas another avenue of moving the ball early in the game when nothing was working. To the credit of the Texas wide receivers, the Longhorns had several chances to connect on big plays in the passing game. Xaiver Worthy broke through the secondary several times but Hudson Card was unable to deliver a catchable ball. Joshua Moore also had a time or two where he was behind a defender. Outside of those two, it was a tough day for the rest of the group. Jordan Whittington dropped several passes and did not look anything like the guy who had a big week 1. To say the Texas offensive line played poorly would be an understatement. Early in the game, the line allowed several 3 man rushes to get to Hudson Card. Denzel Okafor and Jake Majors allowed a linebacker to run through the line untouched for a sack on 3rd down during Texas' second drive of the game. As run blockers, they were repeatedly blown off the ball and had to be saved several times by Bijan Robinson. I'm not sure much more needs to be said. Kyle Flood has a lot of work to do with this group. Defense/Special Teams It is safe to say Pete Kwiatkowski never faced the veer and shoot at Washington. Kendal Briles put together a solid game plan and Arkansas rushed for 333 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. As expected, the Razorbacks ran KJ Jefferson a lot and asked him to not be a hero in the passing game. The Texas defensive line had an awful game. They had no sacks, were driven off the ball frequently and failed to stay in their lanes in the running game. Remember at the end of the 2020 season when the Texas offense found a lot of success running outside zone? Arkansas used the same type of running schemes to go up and down the field against the Longhorns. DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer were active early in the game, but once the defensive line wore down they had little impact the rest of the way. Overshown looks like a complete different player and is playing the linebacker position at a solid level. Texas needs more guys to take the same step he took. On the surface, the pass defense didn't seem to be an issue since Texas only allowed 138 yards through the air, but the play of the secondary left a lot of be desired. Josh Thompson and D'Shawn Jamison played okay. Brenden Schooler did not start the game, but saw some playing time early and missed several tackles. Jerrin Thompson started in Schooler's place and had 5 tackles. BJ Foster had the play of the game with an impressive INT, but he still has a tendency to launch his shoulder anytime he wants to tackle someone instead of wrapping up. Hindsight is 20/20, but imagine if Texas retains possession on the muffed punt early in the 1st quarter. The Longhorns would have had the ball inside the Arkansas 5 and in all likelihood go up 7-0. The crowd is taken out of the game early, momentum is on the Longhorns side and the offense sees the ball get punched into the endzone. Instead, a small step out of bounds when attempting to make a recovery cost Texas an extra early possession. Jeff Banks and the coaching staff need to seriously think about using someone else at punter. Cameron Dicker is currently handling placekicking, kickoffs and punting duties and is not off a good start. He is 1/3 on field goals for the season and had a punt blocked last night after bobbling the snap. The Longhorns have two other scholarship punters on the roster. One of them needs to step up and allow for Dicker to focus solely on kicking. What's next? It is back to the drawing board for Steve Sarkisian. It appeared the Longhorns took a good first step last week in beating a solid Louisiana team, but all progress was lost just a week later. The gameplans were not good on both sides of the ball, the players did not perform well and as a result the Longhorns got their butts kicked. Arkansas is improved from where they were a few years ago, but it was a still a game where Texas was favored by a touchdown. Texas will host Rice next Saturday at DKR before conference play starts the following week. Several positions, including QB, appear to be up for grabs. For all the negatives that came out of the performance Saturday night, the one positive is the top of the Big 12 appears to be wide open after Oklahoma. Iowa State was beaten soundly by Iowa in a game where Brock Purdy was benched, TCU found themselves in a nail-biter with Cal, Oklahoma State struggled mightily with Tulsa and Texas Tech barely escaped Stephen F Austin. Texas can still reach many of the goals they have for this season, but a lot is going to have to change from what they showed Saturday night.
  6. Texas (1-1, 0-0) and Rice (0-2, 0-0) square off for the 96th time in history on Saturday with the Longhorns hoping to right the ship after a disastrous performance in Fayetteville last weekend. The Owls are still in search of their first win of the 2021 season and hope to pull off the big upset over Texas, who has won 14 straight against Rice. Will Texas fall prey to the Owls? Does Rice have the firepower to win for the first time at DKR since the 1965 season? The HornSports Staff weighs in with their thoughts on the outcome of Saturday's 7:00 PM game which will be televised on Longhorn Network. Aaron Carrara (1-1) Texas has issues to work on in all phases of the game, which was apparent last week in Fayetteville. For Sark, Flood and Kwiatkowski, Saturday's game offers a chance to clean up a lot - schemes, personnel and an overall game plan. Sarkisian knows Rice coach Mike Bloomgren from time spent in the Pac-12 (Sark with Washington and USC and Bloomgren with Stanford), and Rice's offensive strategy should come as no surprise. The Owls would have to play a perfect game to pull off the upset at DKR but that is not going to happen. Even with the Longhorns' challenges they will easily handle Rice to improve to 2-1 before conference play starts next week. Bijan Robinson gets back on track with another 100+ yard game and the defense forces three turnovers en route to a blowout victory. Score Prediction: Texas 48, Rice 10 Jameson McCausland (1-1) Texas has a lot of clean up on Saturday evening. Offensively, they need to re-establish the running game and find schemes that the offensive line is comfortable with. Bijan Robinson was a complete non factor in Fayetteville and that can not continue to happen with conference play right around the corner. Defensively, this is a game where Texas simply needs to dominate. Rice has shown they struggle mightily to throw and run the ball and their offensive line should be no match for what the Longhorns have on the defensive line. This is a game Texas should win handily and I think they do exactly that. I expect Casey Thompson to have a good game and for Hudson Card to be able to get back out on the field to get some confidence back after a rough performance a week ago. Score Prediction: Texas 42, Rice 10 Devon Messinger (1-1) On Saturday, the Longhorns will look to bounce back with a win over Rice after losing in an absolutely demoralizing game against Arkansas. You would be hard pressed to find a position group that had a solid night against the Hogs last Saturday, however this loss will add fuel to Texas's fire. For Rice, redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey got the nod at quarterback last week and had a rather lackluster game against Houston, throwing for 86 yards and 3 interceptions. In order to stay competitive with Texas, McCaffrey will have to have a clean game under center and Owls freshman running back Khalon Griffin will have to lead Rice's offense. Look for the Longhorns to play angry on Saturday, leaving no doubt. Score Prediction: Texas 45, Rice 3 TFloss32 (1-1) I don’t think anyone saw Texas falling flat on their face against Arkansas in Week 2, including one of the worst OL performances in years. Rice is coming to town at a great time with the team needing a solid bounce-back game and Casey Thompson getting the first start of his career. To put it bluntly, this game shouldn’t be close and any struggles or sloppy play would be deflating indicators right before conference play begins. Rice has an offense that Charlie Strong and Shawn Watson think is bad, and their defense is undersized. The good guys should be able to win convincingly as roughly 25-point favorites, and gain some confidence heading into the Tech game. Score Prediction: Texas 45, Rice 13 Tristan Larsen (1-1) It seems as if we all took Arkansas a little too lightly. It was a great lesson on the competition to come in the SEC. Now, Texas gets to regroup against a Rice program that the Longhorns have beaten 14 consecutive times. It’ll be Casey Thompson, not Hudson Card, getting the start as the offense looks to find it’s groove again. On paper this is a total mismatch. If Texas somehow loses this game it would be cause to pull the fire alarm immediately. Rice does have a former 4-star prospect at QB with Christian McCaffrey’s younger brother, Luke. His playmaking and athleticism should keep Texas on it’s heels for the most part. The latest spread from ESPN is Texas -26, for Longhorns everywhere to feel good about entering Big-12 play look for Texas to cover that massive spread. Score Prediction - Texas 45, Rice 13 Mitch Lovell (1-1) This week’s game is more about Texas than their opponent. After the massacre in Fayetteville the Longhorns need to get back to basics and dominate in the trenches. Rice was leading 17-7 vs Arkansas with 10 minutes left in the game so Texas needs to come ready to play. This game may be too close for comfort for Texas fans but the Longhorns pull away in the 3rd quarter and notch the win. Score Prediction: Texas 38, Rice 21
  7. Steve Sarkisian announced during his weekly press conference that he was making a QB switch. Casey Thompson will start Saturday's game against Rice after coming off the bench to lead a pair of scoring drives last week at Arkansas. Sarkisian also said Card will play. On the decision, head coach Steve Sarkisian had this to say: "Well I think Casey has performed well... In the Louisiana game, yeah I think three drives and scores 10 points. Came in against Arkansas, put 14 points on the board. Bottom line is, it's not always about how you execute every play, it's about are you maneuvering the offense down the field to score points. And I think Casey has put himself in a good position to do that." Hudson Card will plays as well, as was mentioned by Sarkisian at today's press conference.
  8. Saturday's game at DKR will mark the 96th meeting between the Texas Longhorns and the Rice Owls, with the Longhorns holding a commanding 73-21-1 all-time advantage against their former Southwest Conference foe. Despite the road loss to Arkansas in a game in which the Longhorns' vulnerabilities were manifested, expect Rice to have their work cut out for them in their quest for an upset win. Texas has won the last 14 straight games against the Owls, who haven't beaten the Longhorns since 1994 and haven't won in Austin since 1965. GAME NOTES The Owls return experience on both sides of the ball this season, with the offense bringing back 9 starters and the defense bringing back 10 (86% of its starters). The Owls are 0-2 to start the 2021 season, losing at Arkansas 38-17 and to Houston 44-7 in the Bayou Bucket The Rice quarterback situation is similar to Texas' in that they will have two quarterbacks ready to play on Saturday. Nebraska transfer and redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey will get the start for Mike Bloomgren's squad but it's likely redshirt sophmore Wiley Green will make an appearance also. They both played in the opener against Arkansas but McCaffrey played exclusively last week against the Cougars but threw three interceptions. While Steve Sarkisian and Mike Bloomgren have never met on the field as head coaches, they are familiar with one another in different roles. Bloomgren held a series of offensive coaching positions for the Stanford Cardinal, including OC, when Sarkisian was head coach at Washington and subsequently USC. The Rice offensive identity largely remains the same as it has in years past, The Owls are run-heavy, fullback-utilizing, and aren't afraid of the option. Bloomgren brought former QB Marques Tuiasosopo on as the new OC this year after former OC Jerry Mack left to take the RB coaching job for the Tennessee Volunteers. Tuiasosopo's job is the infuse the passing game with some life, so expect McCaffrey air it out every now and then. TEXAS INJURY UPDATE: Sophmore DB Jahdae Barron is out for approximately three weeks with a knee sprain. WR Troy Omeire will miss Saturday's contest against Rice. TE Jared Wiley is available and will play on Saturday. Junior Casey Thompson will start for the Longhorns under center against the Owls. Saturday's game will mark the first start for Thompson since his senior year at Newcastle High School in Oklahoma (2017). Hudson Card will play, as indicated by head coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday and reiterated again on Thursday. Longhorns' kicker Cameron Dicker has missed two field goals this season and mishandled a punt snap last week against the Razorbacks. Sarkisian confirmed on Thursday that Dicker's duties on Saturday will include both kicking and punting. Texas Depth Chart vs. Rice Rice Head Coach Mike Bloomgren on Texas: Texas Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Talks Rice:
  9. Texas will attempt to clean up a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball when they welcome Rice to DKR on Saturday night. The Owls enter the contest at 0-2 on the season after opening with a 38-17 loss to Arkansas and a 44-7 blowout loss to Houston. Let's take a look at what to expect from Mike Bloomgren's team: Offense Let's cut right to the chase, Rice is awful offensively. The Owls are a power running team who loves to get under center and run the ball between the tackles. The problem is they struggle mightily to run the ball at all. Against the Razorbacks they averaged a horrible 2.1 yards per carry and improved to 3.5 yards per carry this past weekend versus Houston while only scoring 7 points. Quarterback is a revolving door. Rice brought in Nebraska transfer Luke McCaffrey prior to the season, but he has already thrown 3 interceptions. Fellow QB Wiley Green has thrown 3 interceptions of his own. The duo is combining to complete 48.1% of their passes. If Texas shuts down the running game, the game could get out of hand quickly. Up front, Rice has allowed 6 sacks already on the season despite being a team that has only attempted a54 passes. This should be a game where the Texas defensive line is able to control the line of scrimmage and pin their ears back on 3rd down. Neither McCaffrey or Green are much of a threat to run the ball so they will not have to worry about the QB run. Defense If Rice is to have any shot in this game, their defense is going to have to play nearly perfect and carry them. They held Arkansas in check for about a half in the season opener before the floodgates opened (with an assist from the poor Rice offense setting the Razorbacks up with short fields). They have an experienced defensive line, led by DT Elijah Garcia, who has a chance to be an all-conference type player for the Owls. Garcia will be a good test for the interior of the Texas offensive line that struggled in Fayetteville last weekend. On the backend, safety George Nyakwol is a good player and is someone to keep an eye on. The Longhorns will want to get the passing game in sync with conference play approaching, and they will have a good opportunity to do so with how Rice has looked through the first two weeks. Final Thoughts This game is more about Texas taking a good first step towards correcting a lot of what went wrong a week ago. The Longhorns have a lot to clean up and they likely won't get all the answers they need due to the quality of the opponent, but building some much needed momentum heading into conference play would certainly be ideal. If Texas is able to play a relatively clean game along the offensive line and Casey Thompson is able to consistently move the offense down the field, Steve Sarkisian should walk away from the game pretty pleased. Defensively, Texas needs to minimize the missed tackles and show some signs of life along the defensive line. The spread for for this game is Texas -26.5 so if all goes accordingly to plan, the Longhorns should be emptying the bench in the 4th quarter.
  10. The #15 Texas Longhorns (1-0, 0-0) will face former Southwest Conference rival, the Arkansas Razorbacks, on Saturday evening at 6:00 PM in Fayetteville. The Longhorns have had success against the Hogs in their home stadium, winning the last three at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. In fact, the last time the Longhorns lost there was in 1981. Both teams won their season opening contests at home, with Texas defeating Louisiana 38-18 and Arkansas besting Rice 38-17. Redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card will face his first true road test as the starter for the Longhorns, and Steve Sarkisian and company look to improve to 2-0 as a staff during their time in Austin. Texas is favored by a touchdown and Arkansas will be without starting LB Bumper Pool for the first half due to a targeting call against Rice. The Hogs will also be without starting DE Dorian Gerald who suffered a leg injury in practice this week. Do the Longhorns have the game plan, mental and physical conditioning to go into enemy territory and pull off a win? The HornSports Staff give their predictions on the outcome of Saturday's big game. Aaron Carrara (1-0) Both teams are coming off wins at home but I expect Saturday’s matchup to be a prime time slugfest. I like the Longhorns on paper, but Hudson Card will have his hands full on the road. Bijan Robinson and Jeff Banks’ special teams unit will win this for Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns leave Fayetteville with hard-fought victory. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Arkansas 24 TFloss32 (1-0) The first thing that comes to mind for this match-up is Fayetteville potentially being an environment unlike any other the current Texas players have faced. If they can stay even-keeled and ride out the initial jolt that stadium will provide, I like the good guys to eventually walk out with a victory. The evidence we have for both teams is limited, but Arkansas simply didn’t put together a good performance against Rice at home last week. I expect the game plan to be similar to that of Week 1 with a heavy dose of Bijan Robinson opening up other opportunities for the offense, and Kwiatkowski’s defense keying on KJ Jefferson’s legs forcing him to throw down field. More solid special teams play, with Dicker being consistent, and keeping the turnovers in check will go a long way. Score Prediction: Texas 27, Arkansas 20 Jameson McCausland (1-0) Saturday night is a big test for Texas and Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns opened the season with a solid showing against Louisiana, but traveling to Fayetteville and defeating Arkansas would be huge from a momentum standpoint for the program. I expect this game to be close. The Razorbacks looked sloppy week 1, especially on offense, but I expect Kendal Briles to fully unleash KJ Jefferson's running ability and have him carry the ball 15-20 times. The difference in the game will be Bijan Robinson. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get close to 30 touches and Sarkisian will find a way to get him the ball in open space. As long as Hudson Card takes care of the football, Texas should leave Fayetteville with a victory. Score Prediction: Texas 31, Arkansas 21 Devon Messinger (1-0) Bijan Robinson, Hudson Card and Jordan Whittington all had solid games for the Longhorns last weekend and will now look to beat Arkansas on the road in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have a plethora of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, headlined by preseason All-American Jalen Catalon at safety. However, the game can be won and lost by the Longhorns on the trenches. Can the Longhorns force the Hogs to rely on quarterback KJ Jefferson's arm? Additionally, can Texas's offensive line bounce back from a shaky performance last week and create opportunities for Card and Robinson? If so, Texas will be in the driver's seat against the Razorbacks. Score Prediction: Texas 31, Arkansas 21 Tristan Larsen (1-0) After taking down top-25 Louisiana by 20 points, Sarkisian makes his SEC return against Arkansas in what could be a preview of a rivalry to come for Texas. This will be just the fifth meeting between these schools since 1992 and the first time Texas has traveled to Fayetteville in 17 years. A lot is going in the Longhorns' favor this Saturday. Bijan Robinson looked excellent as he was awarded the Big 12 and National Player of the Week. Hudson Card in his first start looked the part of the next great Texas QB. The defense as well was much improved as Sarkisian’s new and improved coaching staff seems to be a bright spot for the program. Arkansas themselves is coming off of a 38-17 victory over Rice as they look forward to going 2-0 against Texas schools this year. However, the Longhorns on paper are simply a better team than the Razorbacks at this moment. With a lot of the top name quarterbacks struggling in Week 1 another great Robinson performance could mean all gas no brakes toward Heisman consideration. Parlayed with the fact that Sarkisian embarrassed Arkansas last season 52-3, I think Texas easily takes care of business here. Score Prediction: Texas 31, Arkansas 21 Mitch Lovell (1-0) This game will be close early on as the crowd will be a factor for Hudson Card making his fist start on the road. Card will settle down, rely on Bijan to run the ball and the Longhorns will cruise in the second half. Hogs QB KJ Jefferson struggled vs Rice throwing the ball and Texas will be well-prepared on defense for the Razorback offense. Score Prediction: Texas 42, Arkansas 17
  11. Texas opened the Steve Sarkisian era with a solid victory over Louisiana, but now all the attention turns to big matchup in Fayetteville this weekend. The Longhorns have not traveled to Arkansas since 2004 and are not likely to get a warm reception when they trot onto Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday evening. Let's a take a look at what to expect from Arkansas: Offense A familiar face is coordinating the offense in Fayetteville. Longtime Baylor assistant Kendal Briles is in his 2nd year as the Razorback's offensive coordinator and brought the veer and shoot to a program that was searching for an offensive identity. Briles relied on Florida transfer Felipe Franks to operate the offense last year but handed the reigns over to redshirt sophomore KJ Jefferson this season. Jefferson is built very similar to former Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes. Standing at 6'3 245 pounds, Jefferson brings a unique skillset in the running game and isn't afraid to lower his shoulder for extra yards. As a passer, Jefferson leaves a lot to be desired, which forces Briles to be extra careful when calling a game. The arm strength is there, but the accuracy is inconsistent. Jefferson completed 12 of 21 last week against Rice including an interception where he forced the ball along the sideline instead of throwing it away. As with any Briles offense, the Razorbacks will spread out their receivers with wide splits to allow for things to open up in the running game. Redshirt junior Trelon Smith will receive the bulk of the carries. Smith had 22 carries for 102 yards against the Owls and is a shifty back who has good acceleration. Treylon Burks is the clear #1 receiver for the Hogs and clearly was not on the same page with KJ Jefferson week 1, which contributed heavily to the offensive struggles the Razorbacks had. Burks is a true playmaker out of the slot and led the team with 51 catches for 820 yards in 2020. If Texas is able to slow him down, the Arkansas offense is going to be in trouble. Along the offensive line, the Razorbacks start a veteran group comprised of 3 redshirt seniors, 1 junior and a redshirt sophomore. Left tackle Myron Cunningham is a future NFL player who has only allowed 3 sacks in 21 starts. He is well regarded as a pass blocker and will likely find himself matched up with Ovie Oghoufo frequently. Defense A lot has been written about Arkansas DC Barry Odom over the last year. The former head coach at Missouri was connected to the Texas DC opening at one point over the offseason and is highly thought of throughout college football. For the second week, the Texas offense is going to face a defense filled with veteran players. At least 8 or 9 starters on the Arkansas defense will be seniors. One of the few non-seniors will be redshirt sophomore Jalen Catalon, who is among the best safeties in the country. Odom will move Catalon all over the field and he has an excellent nose for the football. Two of the biggest storylines heading into Saturday is the health of DT John Ridgeway and Arkansas being without starting LB Bumper Pool due to a targeting penalty in the second half against Rice. Ridgeway is a graduate transfer from Illinois State who was supposed to fill a big void at NG but was unavailable against Rice. It is unknown if he will play Saturday. Pool's absence in the first half could prove to be big considering the 2020 All-SEC second team member had over 100 tackles a season ago. Final Thoughts The game will likely come down to the ability of the Texas offense to consistently move the ball against the Arkansas defense. If Sarkisian can scheme up some easy passes for Hudson Card and establish the running game early with Bijan Robinson, all the pressure will shift to the Razorbacks. Pete Kwiatkowski would be smart to deploy a similar gameplan to the one he showed against Louisiana: limit big plays, slow down the running game and force the quarterback to beat you through the air. Arkansas is very likely to come out fired up and playing with a lot of emotion considering the history they have with the Longhorns. If Texas is able to withstand the initial surge and limit mistakes early (turnovers and penalties) then they have a very good chance of leaving Fayetteville with a victory.
  12. The Texas Longhorns will head north to Fayetteville, Arkansas this week for their first true road game of the season when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium has a sold-out crowd for the first time since the 2017 season, and the Longhorns will play in front of a hungry, hostile crowd in a primetime matchup that will be televised on ESPN. Texas improved its record to 1-0 with an season-opening 38-18 home win over a ranked Louisiana team. Arkansas defeated former Southwest Conference foe Rice 38-17 in Fayetteville to give Sam Pittman's team a 1-0 start. HornSports will have more on the matchup as the week progresses, but here are a few notes to get Game Week started. Notes: The Razorbacks will host Texas in Fayetteville for the first time since 2004 Texas and Arkansas will meet for the 79th time in the historic rivalry that dates back to 1894 Texas owns a 56-22 lead in the series and has won 21 of the last 30 meetings Arkansas has won four of the last six games Last meeting between these two teams: Arkansas defeated Texas 31-7 at the 2014 Texas Bowl on Dec. 29, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston Hogs quarterback KJ Jefferson (sophmore) is 6'3" and weighs 245 lbs. He threw for 128 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in the win over the Owls last Saturday, and also rushed for 89 yards and 2 TD's. Texas will have to contend with a big, mobile quarterback Despite Arkansas being unranked, the Longhorns could be in for a close game. The 'Horns and Hogs have played 33 games decided by 10 points or less, and 6 of the last 12 games have been decided by 4 points or fewer Arkansas RB Trelon Smith, an Arizona State transfer and the Hogs’ leading rusher last season, ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against Rice. Smith has scored six rushing touchdowns in his last five games and averaged 97.8 rushing yards in those five games Wide Receiver Treylon Burks is an athletic, speedy wideout that has receptions in 21 straight games. He will likely be Jefferson's top-target on Saturday Mansfield Legacy (Mansfield, TX) product and defensive back Jalen Catalon, registered 11 stops and two interceptions against Rice last weekend. He is the only player in the country to have 10+ tackles and two interceptions in a game this season Depth Chart for the Longhorns: Arkansas Head Coach Sam Pittman on Texas: Texas head Coach Steve Sarkisian talks Arkansas: Here's a clip from Texas legends that played in the '69 shootout in which the Longhorns were subsequently crowned National Champions:
  13. On a weekend where many preseason top 25 teams were upset or found themselves in nail-biters late in the 4th quarter, Texas did something they haven't done in quite some time: thoroughly beat a quality opponent. No one is going to mistake Louisiana for Alabama or Georgia, but the Ragin' Cajuns entered the season with the most returning production in the country and were coming off a 10-1 season. All the ingredients were there for an upset in Austin, but the Longhorns simply outplayed and out-coached Louisiana. There were a lot of promising signs to open the Steve Sarkisian era. Here are some quick thoughts and takeaways on the 38-18 win to open the season: Offense Steve Sarkisian made it clear all offseason he was going to get Bijan Robinson the ball early and often. Sarkisian kept his promise as he handed the ball to the sophomore 20 times for 103 yards and a TD while Robinson also added 4 catches for 73 yards and a receiving TD. 24 touches is likely right around the number Robinson figures to be every week. It was interesting to see the ways Sarkisian used him in the passing game, including when he lined him up out wide and Card found Robinson for a big gain on a quick slant. Roschon Johnson was Roschon Johnson. He did a lot of the dirty work in 2 running back sets but also had a big 14 yard reception where he leaped over a defender on a 3rd down to move the chains. Keilan Robinson finally saw the field in the 3rd quarter and I bet Steve Sarkisian has some stuff up his sleeve to use throughout the season with #7. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands. There were a ton of concerns at the wide receiver position coming out of camp, specifically around drops and getting in sync with the quarterbacks. For one game at least, the unit stepped up and quieted a lot of the noise. Joshua Moore (3 catches for 17 yards) and Jordan Whittington (7 catches for 113 yards and a TD) showed no signs of being slowed by the injuries they suffered during camp. Freshman Xavier Worthy got involved early with a 34 yard catch and had a nice punt return. Marcus Washington saw a decent amount of snaps as well and had a great block on the Whittington TD. The position group as a whole had no drops and will take some confidence into next week in Fayetteville. Texas ran a ton of 2 tight end sets throughout the afternoon. Cade Brewer played the most snaps and had a 6-yard touchdown on his only catch. Steve Sarkisian said after the game that Jared Wiley was dealing with a shoulder injury, which explained the lack of snaps for the junior. In his place, Gunnar Helm was thrown into the fire and did not look out of place. It was an up and down performance for the offensive line. Penalties were an issue and there were too many times where the Louisiana defensive line was getting significant push on the interior of the Texas offensive line. It was obvious early that Texas wanted to establish outside zone as their bread and butter but the offensive line was just never able to open up the big lanes. Sarkisian and offensive line coach Kyle Flood did do a good job of making some adjustments and not completely ditching the running game despite the lack of early success. They eventually found success as the Louisiana defense wore down. Lastly, we have to touch on the quarterbacks. Hudson Card went 14/21 for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first start. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over and looked comfortable operating the offense. He does not get enough credit for his athleticism and was able to avoid several sacks. His touchdown throw to Brewer was a beautiful throw where he fired it in a tight window. Texas hasn't had a QB with his arm talent in a long time. About halfway through the 3rd quarter, Sarkisian handed the reigns to Casey Thompson. Thompson completed 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards and a TD on a screen pass to Whittington. Thompson also had another nice 3rd down completion to Whittington where he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a good pass on the move. Long term, I am not sure how Sarkisian is going to manage the QB situation. It appears he wants to keep Thompson engaged and not have one eye on the portal, but it is not sustainable to split playing time at QB for the whole season. Maybe they are able to develop a package of plays for Thompson that the they can use situationally, but Hudson Card certainly did not do anything to lose the job in week 1. Defense/Special Teams The Texas defense gave up 358 total yards, but easily 100 of those yards came with the game in hand and the Longhorns getting snaps for the backups. It was a quality performance for Pete Kwiatkowski's group. They controlled the line of scrimmage (76 rushing yards allowed) and were not beat for any backbreaking big plays through the air. Kwiatkowski said before the season the goal is to hold the opponent to under 20 points every week, and so far they are 1 for 1. Texas finished the game with 4 sacks, but the defensive line was unable to get into the backfield as frequently as many expected heading into the game. Ovie Oghoufo had a big sack and looks to be the best edge rusher Texas currently has. The Longhorns will need more push up front as they progress throughout the season. DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer combined for 23 tackles. Both played well. Brockermeyer in particular was a pleasant surprise and Overshown was flying around the field. It was a quiet day for the DB's. Louisiana obviously had a game plan of wanting to control the ball and not ask Levi Lewis to take deep shots. The DB's for Texas had a good day of keeping everything in front of them and tackling, which has been in issue in past years. They will be tested more this upcoming week against Arkansas. One of the biggest moments of the game was Keondre Coburn blocking an extra point to keep it a 21-12 game and then BJ Foster recovering the ensuing surprise onside kick. Sarkisian mentioned after the game that special teams coordinator Jeff Banks had a feeling the onside kick might be coming and alerted Foster. All-around great coaching and execution.
  14. The Texas Longhorns will begin their 129th season on the gridiron on Saturday as they host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. The Cajuns will serve as new head coach Steve Sarkisian's debut in Austin, with the Longhorns looking to improve to 3-0 against Louisiana. Saturday's matchup is the first that sees both teams ranked in the Top-25. The Louisiana program is on the rise under 4th year head coach Billy Napier who is looking to improve his coaching record to 2-1 in season openers against Power 5 Conferences. What: No. #19/21 Texas Longhorns (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs.# 23/23 Louisiana (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium Location: Austin, Texas When: Saturday, Sept. 4th, 2021 Time: 3:30 p.m. (CST) TV: FOX On the Call: Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analyst) All-Time Series: Texas leads, 2-0 Last Meeting: Texas defeated Louisiana 60-3 (9/3/2005) Relevant Information Depth Chart - Texas vs. Louisiana Scouting Report: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Five things to Look for When Texas Takes on Louisiana Staff Predictions:  #21 Texas vs #23 Louisiana
  15. The #21 Texas Longhorns open the season with a new quarterback and a new head coach as they host the #23 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday. These two programs have met twice before with the Longhorns winning both contests by a combined score of 112-13. Will Steve Sarksian notch his first win with the Longhorns by beating a ranked Louisiana team? The HornSports Staff give their predictions on the outcome of Saturday's matchup at Darrel K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. Aaron Carrara It's the first game of the season with new coaches and a new quarterback - there will be growing pains, especially on offense. With that being said, I'm excited to watch the play of the defense as I think they have an opportunity to be special this season given the overall depth and experience in Pete Kwiatkowski's unit. Louisiana is a formidable opponent but Texas has too much talent to allow an upset by the Ragin' Cajuns and should win this game despite the close proximity in rankings. I like the defense to force a turnover or two and Bijan Robinson to rush for the century mark while Hudson Card and Casey Thompson dust off the cobwebs to lead this team in the post-Sam Ehlinger era. Sark starts 1-0 in Austin and learns more about what this team is capable of and needs more work on in-game before a nasty trip to Fayetteville next week. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Louisiana 17 Jameson McCausland Texas is going to need to come out with a sense of urgency to start the Steve Sarkisian era. Louisiana returns pretty much everyone from a season ago when they went 10-1. The biggest concern for the Longhorns will be getting the new offense to click against a strong Ragin' Cajuns defense. I believe Sarkisian will be able to scheme up some stuff in the passing game while getting a strong performance from Bijan Robinson, which should be enough for a Texas victory. Score Prediction: Texas 27, Louisiana 17 Tristan Larsen Welcome to the Sarkisian era. While this is just Sarkisian’s first year in Texas, it’s still one that faces massive expectations. A potential sec move looming potentially in a year, an all new coaching staff, the start of Hudson Card, and the Bijan Robinson Heisman Hype train is All Gas, No Brakes. Texas opens this new season with a top-25 matchup against the upstart Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. After a 10-1 year during the pandemic, Louisiana is a household name now they’re ready to stay there as they return 90% of the roster that led to success already. Unfortunately, that huge win that the program needs will have to wait a little longer as Texas will open up with a win in a game that should hit the over easily. Card and Robinson do their thing as the defense shows one of their more inspiring efforts in recent memory. Score Prediction: Texas 38, Louisiana 27 Devon Messinger At last, it is here. On Saturday, Billy Napier's Ragin' Cajuns will travel to Austin to try to do something that Texas fans are all too familiar with - an opening day upset. Napier's squad is incredibly experienced, returning 20 starters from last season, and will look to use this to their advantage at DKR. The two keys for the Longhorns in Saturday's game will be Bijan Robinson and their defensive front. With inexperience at quarterback, Robinson will have to take pressure off of Hudson Card and begin this season with a bang. On the other side of the ball, Texas's defensive line will have to plug up Louisiana's running lanes and force quarterback Levi Lewis to beat the Longhorns with his arm. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Louisiana 24 TFloss32 Week 1 predictions can be about as worthless as Tom Herman’s infamous binder, but I’m a fan of the good guys in this one. It’s understandable if any Texas fans are uncomfortable knowing what the Ragin’ Cajuns did to Iowa State this time last year, but all should be well sans any major special team gaffes and the multiple turnovers which occurred in Ames. It shouldn’t surprise if a brand new offense and a QB with zero starts struggles at times, but I expect Bijan to be Bijan and the best player on the field while Kwiatkowski’s defensive unit does everything it can to make an inefficient passer in Levi Lewis uncomfortable. Louisiana-Lafayette doesn’t go easy due to being one of the most experienced teams in the country, but Sark covers the spread and notches his first victory in Austin. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Louisiana 20 Mitch Lovell Louisiana is a good, sound football team but without starting LT Carlos Rubio, life could be difficult in front of a packed crowd at DKR. Louisiana has had struggles stopping the run in the past and that’s not a good recipe to stop the Bijan Robinson-led offense. Texas finally has the blue-blood coaching staff they have wanted and that will be the difference on Saturday. Score Prediction: Texas 35, Louisiana 21
  16. It is officially game week and the Steve Sarkisian era is set to begin Saturday afternoon inside DKR. The Longhorns will be tested right off the bat as they welcome the Louisiana Rajin' Cajuns to Austin. Billy Napier's team returns 20 of 22 starters and is looking to build off a 2020 campaign that ended in a 10-1 record, with the lone hiccup being a 3-point loss to Coastal Carolina. Let's take a look at what the Longhorns can expect when they take the field in their season opener. Offense QB Levi Lewis is the straw that stirs the drink for the Louisiana offense. Lewis is entering his 3rd year as the starter and is very comfortable in Billy Napier's system. He does a good job of taking care of the football and knowing his limitations. The Louisiana coaching staff won't ask Lewis to push the ball down the field often, but they do a solid job of playing to their QB's strengths and knowing weak spots in defenses. The stats show Lewis only rushed for 335 yards a season ago, but Texas will have to account for the QB in the run game. Lewis has the athleticism to make plays with his legs and has good pocket presence. He frustrated defenses often last season with his ability to avoid sacks. The Rajin' Cajuns will be replacing their two leading rushers (Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas) from 2020. Sophomore Chris Smith will be asked to step up in their place after serving more as a gadget player last year. Smith is 5'9 195 pounds and can fly. He will be especially dangerous in the return game. Texas would be wise to kick the ball out of the back of the endzone any chance they get. The RB situation behind Smith is a little murky. Emani Bailey and T.J Wisham should both see playing time, but the duo has only combined for 25 carries in their careers so they are unknowns at this point. Pretty much every notable receiver returns for Louisiana in 2021. Kyren Lacy led the team in receptions and yards last season as a true freshman and will likely emerge as the #1 receiver. Jalen Williams and Peter LeBlanc will also see targets. One interesting note on the wide receiver group as a whole is there does not appear to be many speed burners. The Rajin' Cajuns will look to create 1 v 1 matchups in the passing game and use the physicality of their experienced receivers. Along the offensive line, Louisiana returns all 5 starters and kept Levi Lewis upright pretty much the whole season in 2020. The offensive line unit only allowed 9 total sacks in 11 games. The lack of pressure can be attributed to quality play up front along with the heavy reliance on the quick passing game. Louisiana did have to replace their offensive line coach this offseason after previous OL coach Rob Sale left the program to join the New York Giants. Defense 9 of 11 starters for the Ragin' Cajuns defense will be upperclassman. The strength of the defense a season ago was defending the pass and all 5 starters in the secondary return. The safety duo of Bralen Trahan and Percy Butler is far and away the best in the Sun Belt and both would start at most power 5 schools. The weakness of the defense is defending the run, which surely jumped out to Steve Sarkisian as he was watching film over the last few weeks. Louisiana allowed over 180 rushing yards per game a season ago and almost 4.3 yards per rushing attempt. There is little doubt the Longhorns will look to establish the run early with Bijan Robinson to test the Louisiana defense and take pressure off Hudson Card. Despite the experience returning along the defensive line, Texas should have the advantage in the trenches on offense. Defensive tackle Tayland Humphrey will be a solid test for Jake Major and the interior of the Longhorns offensive line, but outside of Humphrey nothing truly jumps off the screen about the Louisiana defensive front. Final Thoughts This will be the toughest opener Texas has played in a long time. Many will point to Maryland in 2017 and 2018, but the fact of the matter is 2021 Louisiana would have beaten those Maryland teams by double digits. The good news for Steve Sarkisian is he inherits an experienced team that has veterans at key spots. The biggest strength of the team is along the defensive line and Louisiana has traditionally leaned heavily on the running game to set up their offense. The biggest question heading into Saturday is can Texas consistency move the ball on the Louisiana defense? If the answer if yes, then the Longhorns should open the season with a win. If the running game bogs down and Louisiana is able to force a couple of turnovers, it is going to be a nail-biting opening game in Austin.
  17. Following the first of Steve Sarkisian’s weekly Monday press conferences, the depth chart for Saturday’s matchup against #23 Louisiana was released. As expected former Lake Travis quarterback Hudson Card (redshirt freshman) will make his first career start at Texas against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but junior Casey Thompson will see playing time as well. The starting wide receiver corps will consist of sophmore Jordan Whittington, junior Joshua Moore and true freshman Xavier Worthy. The secondary for the Longhorns will feature senior Anthony Cook at nickel, Brenden Schooler (senior) at free safety, BJ Foster (senior) at box safety and seniors D’Shawn Jamison and Josh Thompson at corner. Full depth chart can be found below.
  18. Photo: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports With just over two weeks remaining before the season opener against #23 Louisiana, University of Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian met with reporters after the team's practice on Tuesday evening to talk about the team's progress and answer questions. Highlights from the availability are below. After Saturday's scrimmage, Sarkisian didn't sound too impressed with the effort or performance of his players. His comments tonight about the two days since the scrimmage was that the players were taking the coaching they received and applying it, which was a positive. He says the rest of the week provides an opportunity to put in more work towards this effort before the team scrimmages again on Saturday. On scrimmages and their impact on the depth chart, Sark says they try not to make scrimmages anymore than what they are - opportunities to do the things that the players are trained to do in practice. He does say that some players treat scrimmages differently than practice and that can cause anxiety for some. The overarching component the staff is trying to instill is mental toughness in scrimmages, so that the gameday atmosphere isn't a surprise or any different for them. QB Hudson Card took reps again with the first-team today, leaving folks assuming he has the advantage at the QB1 spot. Is there teeth to it? Perhaps, but not according to Sarkisian. "No, we've been rotating the guys pretty good with the ones in the twos and trying to get them in different scenarios, right, whether it's a two minute whether it's a fastball period, whether it's third down Blitz read area, there's a lot of aspects that make up the game, obviously. And so trying to give everybody ample opportunities to play in the various scenarios put them in some tough situations to see. I think our team in general recognizes that both guys work or book their tails off." Since he doesn't have a clear starter at quarterback to-date, he was asked if he had a timeline in which he will make his decision. "No, I haven't, I haven't put a haven't put a I haven't put a timeline on it. I kind of thought about that. And I always talk to these kids in recruiting, they're going to make a commitment on this date in recruiting, right. But then that date comes in, they're not ready to assign, but they've already made that that, hey, this is the date I'm making my commitment, I don't really know where they're going to go. And then they make a irrational decision. So going with your gut means when it feels right, and, you know, for me that the actual date is the first game, somebody's got to run out there on September 4, to take the stats with the starting offense, when we take the field. Ideally, I'd like to make a decision before then. But there's no exact date on that for that to happen, that's when it's gonna feel right in. And then when it when it's that time, we'll talk to both guys, and we'll we'll go after it. Sarkisian says the team's tackling is going well and they are gradually improving. They continue to work on fundamentals and techniques. OL Junior Angilau has been working at the center position on the line. Sarkisian says that he and Flood never want to start a season with just two individuals that have taken snaps. Angilau joins Jake Majors and Derek Kerstetter as the third center option for Flood's position group. On another note, Sark reiterated again that he and Flood look for the the top 8 guys that can provide a variety of combinations on the offensive line. Sarkisian was asked about the development of the younger QB's. He said true freshman Charles Wright has "made really good progress" and true freshman Cole Lourd is "drastically improving." On if Roschon Johnson is available to play QB in an emergency situation should it arise. "He's a very smart player. He's, he really understands the offense. He's versatile. He's tough. I think that's why he does so well on special teams. He's kind of a Swiss Army knife for us so I wouldn't rule out him being an emergency guy for us if it got to that. Hopefully we... knock on wood. We don't ever get put in that situation. But yes, I would say he is an option." The team will start shifting their focus to the opener against Louisiana mid-week next week, which will give them a week and a half to prepare for the Ragin' Cajuns. After watching the tape from last Saturday's scrimmage, Sarkisian said the thing that disappointed him most in his quarterbacks was he doesn't think that they trusted their preparation and their training to get to the scrimmage. "You know, they performed really well for that first week of camp. And then when the scrimmage came, they kind of veered off from just some of the fundamentals techniques reads, decision making that had gotten them to that point. And that was probably the biggest thing for me that was a disappointment was just trusting what you had done to build for that moment and then continue to do it." Sarkisian followed that up by saying that the last two days of practice have been the best two days for Thompson and Card so far at camp.
  19. A few weeks ago, Steve Sarkisian called the QB competition between Casey Thompson and Hudson Card the closest one he's overseen in his career. After battling it out throughout spring practice and fall camp, the competition appears to have concluded. Sarkisian informed both quarterbacks Friday that Hudson Card would open the year as the starter, as first reported by Horns247. The redshirt freshman will be the first freshman QB to start an opener for Texas since Shane Buechele in 2016. Card was a standout at Lake Travis high school and was considered the 2nd ranked dual threat QB in the country in the 2020 class according to the 247 composite rankings. He played in 3 games in 2020 while taking a redshirt year. Thompson entered the competition with the most experience as he entered his 4th year in the program, but turnovers became an issue throughout the spring and into fall camp. It is unknown whether Thompson will stick around for the 2021 season as the backup or potentially enter his name into the transfer portal. #21 Texas is 7 days away from opening the season against #23 Louisiana and will start the Steve Sarkisian era with Card leading the offense.
  20. The #21 Texas Longhorns will open the season against #23 Louisiana in a little over a week and for Steve Sarkisian, the prep work specific to beating the Ragin Cajuns at DKR has already started. Sarkisian is treating this week like a typical game week, with the team playing what he refers to as a "mock game" on Saturday. The team will stay in a hotel on Friday like they typically do prior to Saturday home games and will have team meetings before heading to DKR on Saturday. "We'll come to the stadium and do all of our pregame warmups and then we'll reenact a lot of those scenarios that happen in game from substitutions to injuries, potentially, things like that that guys are prepared for as backups, whether they're on offense, defense or special teams." Throughout the duration of Fall Camp the offensive storyline has centered around the quarterback battle between junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card. Despite reports that Card holds the reigns on the position and has taken the majority of snaps this week in practice, on Thursday, Sarkisian emphatically denied he has tabbed a starting quarterback. "No I have not named one, so I guess there is nothing to be shared," said Sarkisian when asked by reporters. Relative to the snap count, he clarified that things were being shared equally amongst the quarterbacks who are both making progress after a disappointing second week of camp. "Well, quite frankly, the reps have been split 50/50 And, you know, half with the ones, half with the twos and I think probably they continue to build, you know." Is there a strategic advantage for Sarkisian, who is widely regarded as an offensive mastermind, to keep his starting quarterback under wraps as long as possible in order to affect game-planning for the opposition? According to Sarkisian, not really. "I don't really, me personally I don't think it is much an advantage. I've never worried too much about it from the other side. You know if the players were drastically different style of players, if one guy was just a straight pocket passer, and the other guy was an elite runner, right, and maybe not as gifted of a passer, then you'd have to prepare for knowing which one is in the game. That might, might adjust your calling of the defense, you know, but, you know, I think most people have their schemes they run their schemes and have a game plan and they run the plan and to some degree." When Sarkisian does make a decision on the starting quarterback for the season, there has been speculation that it could impact the future of the roster in the form of decision(s) to enter the transfer portal. He stressed that his emphasis is on the team and not one specific player of group of players and says it would be imprudent to be bothered by that speculation. "Well I can't, I can't worry about that, you know, I have to make decisions that are that are in the best interest of the entire football organization in our entire team. The moment you start worrying about the what ifs about one player. I think that's when you get hesitant in your decision making and you end up starting to make decisions that aren't in the best interest of your team..." As far as opponents are concerned, the Longhorns could very well have their hands-full with the Ragin' Cajuns, who have won 10 games in each of their last two seasons. They return ten starters on both sides of the ball and are led by fifth year quarterback Levi Lewis, who is 24-4 as a starter. Head coach Billy Napier assumed the reins of the Louisiana program following the 2017 season, and has taken the program to new heights. Sarkisian, who worked with Napier previously, spoke highly of his football acumen and the talent on the Cajuns' roster. "Billy is a great football coach, a great football mind. You know I think he's very detailed. He's a tremendous offensive coach, but I think he's a really good head coach, you know. You can see it in their team they're well organized, they're efficient. They play sound. They play hard."
  21. On Monday the Associated Press released its preseason Top-25 Poll and the Longhorns find themselves ranked at #21 in the poll. The season kicks off for new head coach Steve Sarkisian's team on September 4th at 3:30 PM when they host #23 Louisiana. This is the fifth-straight preseason Top-25 ranking for Texas in the preseason AP Poll. Complete Top-25 AP Poll RANK SCHOOL POINTS PREVIOUS RECORD 1 Alabama (47) 1,548 1 0-0 2 Oklahoma (6) 1,462 6 0-0 3 Clemson (6) 1,447 3 0-0 4 Ohio State (1) 1,393 2 0-0 5 Georgia (3) 1,364 7 0-0 6 Texas A&M 1,223 4 0-0 7 Iowa State 1,160 9 0-0 8 Cincinnati 1,014 8 0-0 9 Notre Dame 1,009 5 0-0 10 North Carolina 999 18 0-0 11 Oregon 968 NR 0-0 12 Wisconsin 743 NR 0-0 13 Florida 728 13 0-0 14 Miami (FL) 663 22 0-0 15 Southern California 660 21 0-0 16 LSU 631 NR 0-0 17 Indiana 549 12 0-0 18 Iowa 513 16 0-0 19 Penn State 456 NR 0-0 20 Washington 449 NR 0-0 21 Texas 350 19 0-0 22 Coastal Carolina 232 14 0-0 23 Louisiana 208 15 0-0 24 Utah 176 NR 0-0 25 Arizona State 125 NR 0-0
  22. Photo: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman via Imagn Content Services, LLC As the regular season inches closer, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff continue to give players reps in hopes of garnering some semblance of what a gameday roster might look like. That process will start on Sunday according to Sarkisian, who along with his staff could have a draft of the offense, defense, special teams or all positions by early in the week. While nothing is finite in that regard, it gives the team structure headed into what gameday preparation and practice might look like a week early. Sarkisian shared information with reporters on Saturday after the team's second scrimmage and here are nuggets of what he said: The offense played well, controlled the line of scrimmage, ran the ball well. Defense started slow but progressed throughout the game. The quarterbacks played well - both of them "had a nice day" according to Sarkisian. They controlled the tempo of the game, completed passes and got the ball to players in space. Card and Thompson both had good weeks of practice leading up to Saturday's scrimmage. The coaches challenged both guys and they responded. On what his standard is for the quarterbacks - "Well, I would say they played winning football today, and that's the standard right I mean, are they putting us in a position to win games and they did that in the first of all that starts with taking care of the ball." Sark says managing the offense and taking advantage of opportunities when they are there are points #2 & #3 related to his standards. On developing quarterbacks, Sark says the one thing he and his staff focus on is find the things the player does well and identify that throughout camp. Whether it's play-action passes, formations, etc. He reiterates that it isn't about what he (Sarkisian) does, its about focusing on the strengths that a player has. "It's what place do they operate the best and what plays are they the most comfortable with, and that's really what we try to do, and you know we're doing that now with with Casey and Hudson and as far as just recognizing the things that we think they do well, and putting them in position to do it." WR Troy Omeire's knee injury was referred to a s a "subtle strain" by Sarkisian. Omeire is rehabbing the knee now and Sarkisian mentioned a week or two as a possible timetable for recovering. On his timeline for naming a quarterback, Sarkisian says he doesn't want to act like he is neglecting it but stresses that both players have made it difficult for him to name a starter and both players are taking the coaching and working hard to improve every day. Says he will review tape this week and evaluate performances in certain situations and look at concerns he has on each guy. A quote on the quarterbacks: "You know I've always said, we're probably in a better position at the quarterback position than a lot of people, because I really believe we have two guys that can play. Now, I believe in having a starter and having a backup and, but then when you know, I've got a backup that can play at a high level, and operate our offense, the way we want to operate. That's really a luxury for us because there's a lot of teams that maybe have a returning starter who's a frontline guy, but their backup may not be very capable." Things Sarkisian feels really good about right now: The depth at running back, the depth on the defensive line and the special team unit. He mentions Roschon Johnson, Keilan Robinson and the emergence of Jonathan Brooks contributing to luxury of the RB position. The final two weeks before the opener against Louisiana will be in prep mode for the Ragin' Cajuns. The team will move into the South End Zone at DKR on Monday and practices will be in game-week format. WR Jaden Alexis was the only player that didn't finish the scrimmage due to a knee injury. He is being evaluated. Sarkisian says they are "relatively healthy as a team." Sark says the tight end position is almost as valuable as the QB position to him because in his offense he asks a lot of them. They have an extensive role in his system and he emphasizes the need for his TE's to be physical, smart and athletic. "If I had to give you a player of the game, it would probably be Josh Moore after today's scrimmage." -- Steve Sarkisian The wide receivers are getting a lot of reps and a lot of opportunity. Sarkisian and Andre Coleman are looking for continuity and rapport with the QB in their guys, which are getting better as the passing game shows. On the after-5 players on the OL and who are stepping up their game, Sark mentions Andrej Karic, Hayden Connor, Tope Imade. He stressed that all players get reps in practice but some guys are starting to separate themselves from others. On the new NIL opportunities with the Brandr group that launched group licensing for student-athletes, Sarkisian credited President Jay Hartzell and AThletic Director Chris Del Conte for their leadership and support of the school's student athletes. " I think our players are very appreciative that the university is continually trying to find ways to take advantage of the opportunities there for them. And this is just another example of that. And, you know, the fact that they're able to do that with Jersey sales, different things, again, I think it's a credit to the university and the leadership that we have but also I think your players appreciate it as well and have a really good relationship with the leadership of your university."
  23. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Troy Omeire sustained a knee injury during the team's open practice session on Wednesday evening. Casey Thompson threw a deep ball to Omeire on the right side just shy of the end zone and Omeire went down as he attempted the catch. He walked off the field under his own power and tried to come back in but was held back as a precaution. A UT official provided an update on Omeire's status on Thursday evening. I talked to several individuals last night that said the injury didn't appear to be concerning, but things aren't always as they appear. Omeire missed the regular last season with a torn ACL and it's still unclear whether or not the injury sustained on Wednesday night was to the same knee. While the update doesn't tell much, it's concerning given the Longhorns' lack of depth at the WR position. We will update when we hear more.
  24. Photo: © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports The USA TODAY Sports AFCA Preseason Coaches Poll was released on Tuesday morning and the Longhorns are ranked at #19 in the poll. The Big 12 Conference has four teams in the Top 25, with Oklahoma holding the #3 spot, Iowa State at #8, Texas at #19 and Oklahoma State at #22. Texas will open its season on September 4th against #23 Louisiana at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. COMPLETE TOP 25 COACHES POLL
  25. Photo Credit: Austin American Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK Ahead of the upcoming 2021 college football season, USA TODAY Sports released its preseason All-American team on Wednesday morning. The University of Texas placed one athlete on the list - sophmore running back Bijan Robinson. Robinson was named one of two first-team players at the position, joining Iowa State's Breece Hall as the other to garner the honor. Robinson, an early Heisman contender to start the season, carried the ball 86 times for 703 yards last year for an average of 8.2 yards per carry. His carries were sparse during the first three games, toting the rock just 14 times, before the then-Tom Herman led offense increased his workload marginally. Robinson still shared carries with Roschon Johnson, but finished the season with career-high performances. In the last regular game of the season, on the road against Kansas State, Robinson had 9 carries for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns. That was good enough for 19.1 yards per carry. The Longhorns faced the Colorado Buffaloes in the Valero Alamo Bowl, and Robinson continued his dominance, racking up 183 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He also had two receiving touchdowns in the Longhorns' 55-23 win over Colorado. Head coach Steve Sarkisian says the ideal number of carries for Robinson this season is roughly 20 - which would be more carries than he received in any game he's played in during his one season in Austin. USA TODAY Sports Preseason All-Americans FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE QB: Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma (So.) RB: Breece Hall, Iowa State (Jr.) RB: Bijan Robinson, Texas (So.) WR: Chris Olave, Ohio State (Sr.) WR: John Metchie, Alabama (Jr.) TE: Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (Sr.) OL: Evan Neal, Alabama (Jr.) OL: Kenyon Green, Texas A&M (Jr.) OL: Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa (Jr.) OL: Darian Kinnard, Kentucky (Sr.) OL: Thayer Munford, Ohio State (Sr.) FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE DL: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon (So.) DL: Haskell Garrett, Ohio State (Sr.) DL: Bryan Bresee, Clemson (So.) DL: DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M (Jr.) LB: Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma (Jr.) LB: Mike Rose, Iowa State (Sr.) LB: Will Anderson, Alabama (So.) CB: Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati (Jr.) CB: Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (Jr.) S: Brandon Joseph, Northwestern (So.) S: Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (Jr.) FIRST-TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS K: Cade York, LSU (Jr.) P: Lou Hedley, Miami (Jr.) RET: Aron Cruickshank, Rutgers (Jr.) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE QB: Sam Howell, North Carolina (Jr.) RB: Sincere McCormick, Texas-San Antonio (Jr.) RB: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State (So.) WR: Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (Jr.) WR: Justyn Ross, Clemson (Jr.) TE: Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (Jr.) OL: Jamaree Salyer, Georgia (Sr.) OL: Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State (So.) OL: Alec Lindstrom, Boston College (Sr.) OL: Cain Madden, Notre Dame (Sr.) OL: Jordan McFadden, Clemson (Jr.) SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE DL: Cade Hall, San Jose State (Jr.) DL: Myles Murphy, Clemson (So.) DL: Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan (Sr.) DL: Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati (Sr.) LB: Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr.) LB: James Skalski, Clemson (Sr.) LB: Devin Lloyd, Utah (Jr.) CB: Tiawan Mullen, Indiana (Jr.) CB: Josh Jobe, Alabama (Sr.) S: Greg Eisworth, Iowa State (Sr.) S: Nolan Turner, Clemson (Sr.) SECOND-TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS K: Anders Carlson, Auburn (Sr.) P: Jake Camarda, Georgia (Sr.) RET: Phillip Brooks, Kansas State (Jr.)

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