Arkansas loss doesn’t define Texas football

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 14 flipbook.

The Texas Longhorns went into Fayetteville, Arkansas, on a high note after handily beating a top-25 Louisiana squad in week one. They returned crushed, suffering a humiliating 40-21 defeat.

Then — as is often the case with the Texas crowd  — worries among the fan base about the overall state of the football program abounded. It’s week two of the Steve Sarkisian era, and Texas lost a football game. It happens.

When Sarkisian took over as head coach this past off-season, he inherited the roster that his predecessor Tom Herman had left him. The Herman years were frustrating, but he did a lot of laudable work in recruiting talented players to come play for Texas. One of those players, running back Bijan Robinson, is the face of the team now.

The strides that Herman made appeared to set Sarkisian up for success right away, at least from an optimist’s perspective. After all, Texas had just slashed Colorado in 55-23 in the Alamo Bowl.

Then came the typical Texas off-season football hype train and a buzzworthy performance in week one. Little ol’ Arkansas appeared like a small bump in the road on Texas’ return to relevancy at that point.

The drubbing that the Longhorns received on Saturday was the slice of humble pie needed to remind both players and fans alike that programs do not turn around in one off-season, no matter how much work was done by the previous staff.

“The natural, knee-jerk reaction is, ‘The sky is falling, we gotta change everything,’” Sarkisian said Monday. “We’ve got a system and we’ve got coaches that have withstood the test of time, and we’ll rely on that and the players will continue to buy into that.”

There are plenty of things that need fixing from an X’s and O’s standpoint for this Texas team, but Sarkisian understands that and admitted as much both after Saturday’s game and on Monday. Sarkisian has been around the block a time or two. He knows what it’s like to lose both on and off the field.

The fact is, the Longhorns entered an incredibly hostile environment and came up short. Texas fans might not have felt the full intensity of the affair from their living room couches, but the energy that Razorback fans brought to the fight cannot be discounted in this discussion.

“For a young team with a new coach with new experiences, this was the first time that (our) young cats played in front of 80,000 (fans in a) hostile environment,” junior defensive lineman Moro Ojomo said. “I think it was good for them to see that and experience that early on.”

While much work remains to be done, not only for this season but in preparing for Texas’ eventual Southeastern Conference transition as well, one loss is not enough to derail Sarkisian from his plans for this program. It shouldn’t derail fans’ hopes in him either.