Saturday morning, the Steve Sarkisian era in Austin officially begins with the Texas Longhorns no.
BON staff got together to talk about Louisiana, factors that will determine success in the first season of Sark and more.
Given what we know about Texas ’entry into the season, what concerns do you have and what do you feel confident about?
Cody Daniel – Almost all offense off the runners is a concern. Can the line protect your back and your Hudson card? Can the card be developed and proven to be a QB1 capable? Will some of your recipients separate and become key collaborators? Then a bottom field led by Bijan Robinson could be one of the best in the country, and I think Pete K’s defense will be in the top-20 and Texas will win a few games. It all comes down to Sark’s offense.
Gerald Goodridge – I think the easy answer is the runner. Just three years from having to turn a quarterback into a runner, Texas has four guys that Steve Sarkisian has mentioned by name as a viable option. Janbviament, Bijan Robinson leads the group, but it’s not hard to imagine that Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson would start in many different places. I’m definitely still worried about the lack of depth and experience in the wide receiver, especially because the key players in the position have also struggled to stay healthy. Texas is one or two wounds from being a little messy in this place.
Curry Shoff – Concerns are mainly offensive. Obviously, Hudson Card has a high ceiling, but it doesn’t get an easy introduction to college football with its first two games against Louisiana and Arkansas. Nor does he have a reliable weapons stable at WR to rescue him in past situations. That said, I think an experienced and helpful OL will help you. I also think Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson will be trusted a lot. One of my dark horse collaborators is Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson; if Texas can get it into space, it can be a reliable goal for Card.
Daniel Seahorn – I came out in the spring worried about the lack of untested talent in a wide receiver combined with the break in a new quarterback this fall, and it is still my main concern today. I think at the time the Hudson Card will be a good player for Texas, but if the wide wide receiver doesn’t make it very funny this fall, it will be a long year and a lot of growing pains. On the other side of the coin, I feel good with the veteran presence on defense in combination with a respected defensive mind to Pete Kwitkowksi coming to Austin. I think the defensive unit will play well enough to keep the team in this year’s games.
Cameron Parker – I feel confident in Sarkisian’s coaching staff and I think he really hired OC / DC. I am concerned about QBs and WRs. Everyone has heard about the struggles of the two units during the fall camp But the right coaches can fix it. I just hope the Big 12 game starts.
Sarkisian named Hudson Card as a freshman in the red jersey as QB1, but said Casey Thompson will also play. How significant is it, if any, for Texas to settle into a single quarterback to command the offense and how quickly should it happen?
Cody – It is certainly important. Every quarterback is a little different and the offense is likely to work differently depending on who is in QB, and you just don’t want that inconsistency. Ideally, if Card is the guy, take control soon and end the discussion. If not, at most week 2.
Gerald – I know it’s a cliché, but I always feel like there’s a reason they say “if you have two quarterbacks you don’t have a quarterback”. Especially with the guys who know you’ll re-evaluate after the game (as Sark said) that you don’t want any of the quarterbacks to press on trying to bet on their claim. I think Sark is definitely playing to keep Thompson bought, as QB3 is a true freshman, but planting that seed worries me.
Curry – I hope Sarkisian is bluffing. I don’t see anything good coming from a two QB situation. When you have two QBs, you don’t have any. Sark has chosen the letter, he has to stay with him.
Seahorn – I’m not a fan of the two-quarterbacks system concept, so I don’t even like the idea of planting the seed of doubt in the head of a young quarterback as he tries to take over for the first time. I understand trying to keep Thompson committed so you have a solid backup plan if the need arises, but I will never actively subscribe to rotating quarterbacks during a game as it does not allow guys to get into a groove.
Cameron – See how Saban handled the Tua / Hurts battle. He signed them as co-headlines the first week. I don’t think it’s critical for Sark to name a starter after the Louisiana game, but I think, for the peace of mind, to name an all-season headliner at the end of the game other than a conference. Card could fight Louisiana but light up Arkansas. The same goes for Thompson. I don’t think Sarkisian is in a hurry and shouldn’t be with two freshmen.
“Success” is subjective, but most would agree that no less than eight wins is a disappointing season. So what 2-3 factors will determine success in the first season of Sark?
Cody – I think the defense is in good shape, so I think the key issues are under attack. How well can you develop a Sark Hudson Card and how quickly? How often (and how often) is Bijan Robinson used and will any of the Texas receivers appear as a star-level collaborator?
Gerald – I think the offensive line play will be crucial, both for the young quarterback to be successful and for putting Bijan Robinson in the right places. I also think that if the secondary and defensive line can get to the roofs early, it will help as the offense speeds up.
Curry – Texas has the talent to beat almost anyone, so I think UT will find success if the coaching staff puts them in schematically advantageous positions (something we haven’t always done in the past) and if Bijan Robinson takes an elite state step runner and puts level numbers Najee Harris. Texas can’t afford injuries, so staying healthy will be that third factor.
Seahorn Quarterback playback, creation of games in wide receiver position, pass protection. Basically, if the offensive side of the ball can do enough, it will be competitive in all areas.
Cameron – Most people will focus on the Oklahoma game, but I want to see how Texas goes against the teams that went from Achilles to Tom Herman, that is, TCU and Iowa State. Another factor is the development of the quarterback. How will Card and Thompson progress as the season progresses?
Question in two parts: 1) What is your season prediction for the Longhorns 2021 and 2) win or lose, which game will not end as expected this season?
Cody – 9-3. I think Texas will leave a first one at TCU, as usual. An inexperienced QB against a Gary Patterson defense is a recipe for disaster and is in Fort Worth.
Gerald – I think 9-3 is a realistic expectation for the team. I think TCU is a cunning candidate to be one of the top scoring games of the season.
Curry – Texas will win the Big 12. Texas will beat Oklahoma twice.
Seahorn – 9-3. Most people will dismiss the Oklahoma game as an easy W for the Sooners and I will now say that I bet this game ends up being closer than most think.
Cameron – 1) About eight or nine wins in the regular season with another trip to the Texas Longhorn Bowl – sorry – to the Alamo Bowl. 2) I’ll start with this Saturday’s against Louisiana. Billy Napier is a disciple of Saban like Sark and I think he will be much closer than most Texas fans expect.
Louisiana returns almost all of the starters on a ten-win team and won’t get to DKR scared of Texas. What should the Horns do to avoid what would technically be a disorder to start the Sarkisian era?
Cody – Feed Bijan Robinson and Roshon Johnson as if it were Thanksgiving and trust that a loaded defense can play solid football.
Gerald – I think Sark, living up to his commitment to get Bijan somewhere between the 20 touches of the game, will bode well for the result.
Curry – Turnover or stupid mistakes. Louisiana is rubbish, but they lack it in terms of size and strength. Texas can’t rescue them with typical UT mistakes. This has to be a solid game from start to finish and if so, Texas wins by two touchdowns.
Seahorn – Get your Hudson card started early and win the battle for billing.
Cameron – a) Establish the race game b) master the possession time and c) avoid rotations
Does the Sark era begin with a ranked victory over Louisiana’s No. 23?
Cody – It will be a better game than most Texas fans will feel comfortable with, but I will take Texas, 31-24.
Gerald – At the time of writing this, Texas is favored by 8.5 or nine points. I think Texas will probably win by seven.
Curry – Yes. Sark thrills the fans with a clean win against Louisiana behind Bijan Robinson and the defense.
Seahorn – I’ll say Texas wins, but it’ll probably be close enough to make people feel uncomfortable.
Cameron – OOF. Does it count a moral victory? I think Texas will overtake Louisiana, but it won’t be as big as a win like Las Vegas thought it would be when they opened the line at 14.5 in favor of the Horns.