Louisiana Monroe Pregame

It’s About Sarkisian                                                       


Last season on Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog

Heading into the offseason, I’m far from confident that Steve Sarkisian will be successful in turning the program around. To me, the aura of his program feels hauntingly like Charlie Strong’s.  Unless Sark and his staff hit it out of the park in recruiting and the transfer portal between now and February, it’s going to be a long couple of years for Sarkisian and Texas Football.

You may have heard that Sarkisian and his staff did indeed “hit it out of the park” in recruiting and the transfer portal. According to 247 Sports, Sarkisian hauled in the fifth ranked recruiting class in the country featuring desperately needed offensive line help with the signings of five-star interior lineman Devon Campbell and five-star tackle Kelvin Banks. Banks is projected as the starting left tackle.  Cole Hutson, a four-star recruit from the 2022 class is projected as the starter at right guard.  Texas also hauled in four-star offensive lineman Neto Umeozulu, Cameron Williams, and Malik Agbo.

You can’t overstate the importance of bringing in four and five-star offensive lineman to the program. I believe, as your offensive line goes, so goes your team. Evidently Steve Sarkisian shares my belief.

It is problematic though for 2022 that Texas is starting two true freshmen on the offensive line. Offensive line is probably the hardest position to play for first year players. Are Banks and Hutson up for facing Alabama’s defensive line in the second game of their careers?  Hmm . . .

As for the transfer portal, you may also have heard that Texas nabbed five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers who earned the starting job beating out Hudson Card. Technically Ewers is a redshirt freshman having been a third or fourth team backup at Ohio State last year. But considering that Ewers played only a handful of snaps and hasn’t thrown a pass since high school in 2020 he’s, shall we say, “raw” coming into 2022.

Evidently, Texas losing is no big deal not only to me but to some of the players as well. Seems like the last three coaches have been trying to root out that attitude with no success. 10/11/21

I wrote the above in reaction to the rant at the team by Texas defensive line coach Bo Davis after the 30-7 loss to Iowa State. In case you missed the story, Davis was quite mad at the casual demeanor of some of the players on the bus after the loss.

Regarding the attitude of some of the team last year, Steve Sarkisian told ESPN a couple of weeks ago,

 “The kids knew not everybody in that locker room was all-in last year,” Sarkisian told ESPN. “I think they could feel it, and they wanted to weed out some of the warts, some of the bad apples. I think they got a sense of reality about some of the things we were talking about and trying to instill last offseason. I don’t know how much they gave credence to it, and then those same things reared their ugly head in-season.

“They came back in January with this mindset of, ‘We’ve got to take these things to heart because they will show up again.’ They’ve made that investment and bought into every aspect of it, and you can feel it amongst our team.”

In my opinion for Sarkisian didn’t take the high road in making these comments publicly. It sounds like he’s shedding the blame from himself for 5-7. If Sarkisian is reading the year’s team’s attitude correctly why state it publicly? Hey Steve, why don’t you wait and see how your team’s attitude is if they go on a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State.  

As a Texas fan, what concerns me is the possibility that Steve Sarkisian is just a poor gameday coach. Yes, he’s a good play designer. Maybe he’ll be a good recruiter and maybe he’ll foster a great “culture.” But I have seen nothing this year that suggests he’s anything but a liability on gameday when the bullets are flying.  11/19/2021

If you’re a college football fan you’ve probably heard that Scott Frost’s record in one-score games while head coach at Nebraska is 5-21. This storyline led me to research Steve Sarkisian’s record in one score games. I didn’t count his first year at Washington in 2009 since he was taking over a team that was 0-12 in 2009. Overall, in his six and half years as head coach from 2010 to 2021 his record is 13-13. That includes going 2-5 in one score games last year.  It’s not a terrible record but it’s nondescript.

Sarkisian’s overall record as a head coach (again taking out the 2009 season) is 39-29. Again, nondescript. With seven and a half seasons to judge, the jury is still out on Steve Sarkisian as a head coach.

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While the effectiveness of Quinn Ewers will be one of the keys to Texas’s success, Austin sports talk host Rod Babers voiced the best insight I’ve heard this preseason on Texas. Talking about the choice between Quinn Ewers the gunslinger and Hudson Card the game manager he said Bijan Robinson is Texas’s game manager. Amen. Sarkisian is an outstanding architect of the passing game, but his fortunes and Texas’s in 2022 would best be served if he put the ball in Robinson’s hands 30 times a game or more. Can you say Earl Campbell in 1977?  

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I had lunch with David Frink the other day and he said that an 8-4 regular season record in 2022 would have to be considered a success. I understand his thinking, but after more than 10 seasons of mediocrity or worse, I can’t get too excited about 8-4.  I want a Big 12 Championship now.

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The first time I ever heard about the “It” factor was when my father compared John Kennedy to Robert and Ted Kennedy. He said that Robert and Ted didn’t have “it.”  During the 1968 presidential campaign he changed his mind on Robert. He never did on Ted.

At this point and time, I don’t see the “It” factor in Steve Sarkisian. While he’s very well spoken on the subject of football, I don’t see the inner confidence that he can do the job. I sure hope I’m wrong.

As Dan Yoxall always says, “Let’s put the boot to the ball!”

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week        

Seems apropos for college football fans for the first game of the season. Also, a little Frink Family inside baseball.

I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
And saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good agai
n

W.E.

2 Comments to “Louisiana Monroe Pregame”

  1. As I said at the lunch you mentioned, Sarkisian, in his head-coaching career, has never had the pieces he has with this Longhorns team. Coaches coach, but players play. I believe there are now enough Longhorns deserving to wear the uniform and that they will play to good ole Mack Brown’s “higher standard.” We start finding out in about 28 hours.

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