“I’m looking forward to the roar of the crowd:” Sarkisian talks new “vibe” around campus as first gameday approaches

Nathan Han, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the August 31 flipbook. 

Steve Sarkisian said there’s just a “vibe” about campus these past few weeks that’s different than when Texas first hired him as its head football coach in January. 

“It was hard to get a real sense of the campus, the community, the pride because you just didn’t see people,” Sarkisian said. “And I really feel like in the last month and a half or so, I’ve really felt Longhorn Nation — definitely felt it much more than I did for the first six months or so on the job.”

Ahead of No. 21 Texas’ home opener against No. 23 Louisiana on Sept. 4, Sarkisian spoke with the media in person Monday. The big storyline of the press conference was his decision to name redshirt freshman Hudson Card as starting quarterback.

But the former Alabama offensive coordinator also said he was excited for the return of football to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in a full capacity fashion, calling the crowd “a unique home field advantage.”

“Not everybody can say they have 100,000 fans that are just rabid and excited and behind you,” Sarkisian said. “We’re one of the few that (can).”

While discussing his first return to college football gameday as a head coach since 2015, Sarkisian seemed as passionate as he has been all offseason. 

He said the gameday atmosphere is one of the main reasons “you take a job of  Texas’ caliber.”

“I love college football. I love everything about it. I’m looking forward to getting off the bus, walking down through the fans,” Sarkisian said. “I’m looking forward to the buzz in the stadium and the pregame. And I’m looking forward to the roar of the crowd. I mean, I think that if that doesn’t get you chills, you can go find another profession, right?”

Grandma’s Cookies

Texas will script its opening plays, Sarkisian said Monday. Texas’ offensive playcaller compared those first couple of scripted plays to “your grandma’s cookies.”

“You guys remember when you grew up, and you go to your grandma’s house, and she makes the best cookies, right?” Sarkisian said. “Well, we try not to screw up grandma’s cookie recipe. We try to make sure that we’re putting everything in that cookie that makes it taste the best.”

He called the plays a mixed bag that would both allow specific players to get touches and gain confidence early while still being effective scheme-wise.

“We try not to out-think ourselves or outsmart ourselves and say, ‘Well, if we added this?’ All of a sudden you bite into that cookie, and your mom made it and it never quite tastes like grandma’s cookie,” Sarkisian said. “So we try to keep it pretty similar.”

Bird’s Eye View

On the flip side, the playcaller for the defense will not be scripting plays and calling them from the sideline. Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will be viewing the game up in the booth, Sarkisian said, where he’ll be joined by safeties coach Blake Gideon and quarterbacks coach AJ Milwee.

“So it’ll be the three guys up top and everybody else down,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously along with some analysts and (graduate assistants) up top.”