Texan Tuesday Football Talk: Looking toward Iowa State

Nathan Han, Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporters

Welcome to the eleventh edition of the Texan Tuesday Football Talk, where Daily Texan football beat reporters Matthew Boncosky and Nathan Han discuss, of course, Texas football.

Nathan Han: I’m still trying to wrap my head around the monkey news, so with that caveat, let’s talk 4-4 Texas football. Obviously the Longhorns are out of Big 12 Championship contention, so what do you think is the most important part of these last four games for Texas? Wins and losses aside, what would a successful final stretch look like?

Matthew Boncosky: A successful final stretch in my eyes would mean getting over the second-half hump, making progress along the offensive and defensive lines and reminding Texas fans that there’s still hope for the future of Texas football.

Let’s be honest, at this point, with a .500 record and a rejuvenated men’s basketball team’s season on the horizon, fans have started checking out on football. It’s crazy to think that might be the case at such a football-focused school like Texas, but I think it’s true. Fans could use a reminder of why they were so excited when head coach Steve Sarkisian was hired. If Texas can stop the bleeding, shore up issues on the lines and provide a sense of direction for fans to see where the program could head in the future under Sarkisian, that would be a win in my book.

There was some discussion at Sarkisian’s Monday press conference surrounding his commitment to keeping redshirt junior Casey Thompson as Texas’ starting quarterback through the team’s struggles. Is Casey part of the problem, and what do you think of the way Sark has handled thoughts of getting redshirt freshman Hudson Card more playing time?

NH: Like we talked about the future of the quarterback position at Texas recently, I think Thompson isn’t the problem with this Texas team. But I also don’t know if he’s a long-term solution or even the right guy for the 2022 season.

Sarkisian did make it clear that Thompson will remain the starter for the rest of the season barring injury or a drastic dip in performance. Despite all the promise that I believe Card does have, that feels like the right move given how Thompson has played.

Now that you’ve mentioned fans checking out on this season, I’m curious: Who do you think starts at quarterback Week 1 for the Longhorns next season?

MB: Sark is going to have a crowded quarterback room next year, with the addition of highly-touted recruit Maalik Murphy out of Gardena, California. While I don’t think he would start right away in his true freshman season, Murphy adds an extra wrinkle to the decision.

Ultimately though, I think the decision will come down to Card or Thompson again. It was already a notably tight competition this year, and, with an extra year of development under Card’s belt, I think he will ultimately win the job. That decision won’t be made lightly however, with Thompson being incredibly loyal to the Texas program throughout his tenure. That is another factor that Sarkisian would have to weigh heavily.

Shifting focus to the game this weekend, what has worked well for head coach Matt Campbell in the past two years that Iowa State has beaten Texas, and what are some keys for a losing streak-busting win for the Longhorns?

NH: November Iowa State is no joke. Campbell and the Cyclones seem to hit another level as the season goes on.

A strong run defense from Iowa State limited the Texas attack the past two years. I’d expect Saturday to be more of the same, especially with how teams have stacked the box against sophomore running back Bijan Robinson lately.

So the key for the Longhorns is simple but not easy: be better in the passing game. Missed opportunities via drops or errant passes came back to haunt Texas against Baylor. But we all know Casey Thompson will go back and do everything possible in his preparation to fix those mistakes.

On the other side of the ball, who are some players to watch out for from the Cyclones offense?

MB: Senior quarterback Brock Purdy and junior running back Breece Hall continue to spearhead the Iowa State offense. While Purdy’s brief Heisman hype at the beginning of last season failed to come to fruition, the dual-threat quarterback is still one of the best in the Big 12. He has 12 touchdown passes to 4 interceptions with a 158.8 passer rating on the year.

Likewise, Hall is one of the best running backs in the league too. Against a Texas defense that has struggled with maintaining gap integrity, Hall will look to find gaps to run through against the Longhorns on a chilly Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.

Now let’s predict. At some point, the dam has to burst, right? I know all the talk about going up to Ames in November, and Texas not being able to finish games. I say that finally ends this weekend. Not only does Texas put to rest its debilitating losing streak, but the Longhorns fix a two-game skid against the Cyclones as well. Give me Texas 48-35.

NH: This one will come down to five-star culture versus five-star players, at least according to Hall. I’ll take the players: 35-31, Texas.