Steve Sarkissian and Texas are looking forward to a comeback after what was a season of hell in 2021.
The Longhorns fell victim to a historic meltdown against Oklahoma, which then led to a six-game long losing streak.
Sarkissian and his team have been largely focused on revamping the roster this season, with over 30 new scholarship players joining the squad. Every single one of them was sorely needed because the Longhorns were home to a very inconsistent offense, and defense was so ineffective at times that traffic cones might be more effective.
Whether it’s from the transfer gate or from the high school ranks, Texans have promoted in seemingly every possible position.
However, there are certain things that Texans have to do to turn a 5-7 into a 9-3 or maybe better.
Let’s take a look at the key clues to the successful Texas season in 2022.
Improved offensive line play
It goes without saying, but the offensive line was the worst unit in the team last season. Cale Flood skipped different formations several times, moved people around, and even glanced at the players below on the depth chart to no avail. Whether it was Casey Thompson or Hudson Card, they felt a lot of pressure and never looked comfortable in the pocket. While coach Flood and Sarkissian probably wouldn’t like it, there’s a chance we could see freshmen Kelvin Banks and Devon Campbell introduce themselves into the squad. Whatever it takes to improve this unit must be done, and signing what could be the best offensive line class in the program in the school’s history should help immediately.
Get more quarterback
The Texas rush in passes was lacking last season, reserve quarterback Ben Davis led the team in sacks with a 2.5, and Alfred Collins led the team in pressures with 15, which is by no means great. The Longhorns missed quite a few swipes at the transfer gate, so they would either rely on former reserves like Barynn Sorell or a freshman like Justice Finkley to take on the role.
The linebacker group got a huge boost with James Madison’s move to Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey recently, which could free up DeMarvion Overshown or another linebacker to help speed the passer even further. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where the pressure comes from, but Longhorns can’t continue to give their quarterbacks enough time when they back off as it exposes the rest of the defense’s flaws.
Better in-game tweaks
While football requires players to implement a game plan, it also requires coaches to put their players in a position to succeed. For every season loss and even a few wins, the Longhorns were coached by opponents in the second half. Employees need to be more proactive in preparing the team for what to expect in the next half, or else Longhorns will continue to build and lose leads. There’s no reason to blow double-digit bullets, let alone double them. This is likely something the defensive side of the ball needs to be better at, as they are currently the weak link of the team.
Not only did the Texans blow up several games where they had double-digit leads, but it seemed as if once something went wrong, the team didn’t know how to bounce back. The Longhorns have struggled to deal with adversity, and based on whispers about some players leaving the program, the team is even more relatable ahead of next season. In every loss there was a certain play, whether it was Caleb Williams’ running through Red River or Casey Thompson’s picking six against Oklahoma State, as the team looked stunned and unable to recover from it.
The biggest test of culture and the team’s mental toughness will be the week two game against Alabama. While there’s a chance the Longhorns can beat the upset, there’s also a chance that Alabama will outpace them by 30. This game can’t say how the rest of the season will go regardless of the outcome. It is up to Sarkissian and the team leaders to instill confidence in the rest of the team, and make sure that everyone believes in each other.
Transfers must immediately excel
Texas has brought in one of the best transfer categories in the country, which currently ranks as No. 6 category in the country. They need each of the transfers to produce with some capacity, receiver Isaiah Neyor is expected to be as good as Xavier Worthy and Quinn Ewers is rated as the next big one without even trying to pass. The pressure is on for the program to succeed, and the class of transfers they bring will be a determining factor if the Longhorns are nearing seven wins, or if they are in contention for the conference title and beyond.
The Texans missed transfers under Tom Hermann and even some of Sarkissian’s last season, and there’s no room for error this time around. Realistically, all but two of the transfers will be starters, and the two who are likely not will still be major contributors to the bench. Transfers play a big role in changing the culture as players who have been in Texas their entire career, the program needs elite production and they need it now.