OU-Texas: Steve Sarkisian talks Longhorn resilience, Quinn Ewers’ run game

OU-Texas: Steve Sarkisian talks Longhorn resilience, Quinn Ewers’ run game

Jenni Carlson's three things: Kicking is a Texas concern. Resilience is not after that fourth quarter in Tuscaloosa. But morning football?

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Oct 3, 2023, 12:36pm CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Oct 3, 2023, 12:36pm CDT

Editor’s Note: Sellout Crowd’s Coverage of the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas is Sponsored by Modelo – The Official Beer of Fans with the Fighting Spirit (https://www.modelousa.com)

Steve Sarkisian’s football team has played a couple of high-caliber opponents this season.

Alabama and Kansas were both ranked when Texas beat them.

Still, the Longhorn coach knows Saturday’s game against OU is a different beast.

“It’s why we’re in college football, right?” he said of the Red River Rivalry. “To be part of games like this.”

But that win at Alabama showed Sarkisian his team can handle high emotions. The Longhorns found themselves trailing through three quarters after the Crimson Tide scored 10 unanswered points. Then, Texas outscored Alabama 21-8 to walk away with a huge victory.

Besting the Tide 21-8 in any quarter is no small thing. But in the fourth quarter in Tuscaloosa? That’s big time.

“One thing we keep preaching to our players, starve your distractions, feed your focus,” Sarkisian said Monday during his weekly press conference. “If we focus on the task at hand … that’s the formula for us to be successful.”

Everything said in Austin is interesting during OU-Texas week, but here are three things that stood out from Sarkisian’s press conference:

1. Texas’ quarterback can run, too. While Dillon Gabriel’s run game has opened some Sooner eyes this season, Quinn Ewers is good on the run, too. He’s rushed for a total of 74 yards and has five rushing touchdowns.

By comparison, Gabriel has 95 yards and four scores.

“We’ve always preached we’re not a running-quarterback team,” Sarkisian said. “But we do rely on the quarterback to use his legs at opportune times, most notably third down and in the red zone. Quinn is really starting to excel at that.”

2. Kicking is a concern. Texas kicker Bert Auburn has missed five field goals this season. He had two misses early in the season, but in the past two weeks, he’s missed three. One from 26 yards against Baylor, then two from 50 and 47 yards against Kansas.

Sarkisian said he is sticking with Auburn, but the coaches are trying to go back and dissect what went wrong.

“The kick against Baylor, we have a high snap, we don’t protect the edge very well, he pushes it right off the upright,” Sarkisian said. “The second one’s a 50-yarder, so percentages aren’t great from 50, but I think we can clean that up. And then the 47-yarder, again a little bit of a high snap, but again, I think he’s better.

“It’s just getting him back in his comfort zone.”

3. Morning football is fine with the Horns. The 11 a.m. kickoff is the bane of many a college football fan’s existence, and it’s become almost a foregone conclusion for the Red River Rivalry. 

Nothing like a Fletcher’s Corny Dog for breakfast.

But count Sarkisian as a fan of the morning kickoffs. Perhaps his team is good with them, too. The Longhorns practice in the mornings, not the afternoons like most teams. Sarkisian said players start arriving at the football facility around 6 a.m. and are on the field by 8:55 a.m. 

That means at 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday in Dallas won’t change much for the Horns.

“We’ll get up, put our suits on, have breakfast and go to work,” Sarkisian said.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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