Texas’ fourth-straight loss brings program to unimaginable low in Sark’s first year

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

Winning is hard.

It’s the infamous phrase uttered by former head coach Tom Herman that drew unanimous eye rolls from the Texas faithful when he was consistently losing to Maryland, TCU, Oklahoma and the like.

If winning was hard for Herman, one has to wonder how Steve Sarkisian feels.

That winning is really, really hard?

What began as a “really cool and exciting opportunity” for Sarkisian and the Longhorns to get the train back on the tracks ended in more disappointment Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

The head coach even tried switching things up at quarterback, but that wasn’t enough to stop Texas’ losing streak, which will live to see a fourth week after a 30-7 loss at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Longhorns rode into Ames, Iowa, hoping to put to rest a week of unfortunate events. As if the three-game losing streak wasn’t enough, a pet monkey belonging to special teams coach Jeff Banks’ girlfriend reportedly bit a trick-or-treater on Halloween night, drawing amusement from the internet.

Then, Sarkisian and Joshua Moore reportedly got into an altercation after practice on Wednesday. The junior wide receiver did not play in the first quarter of Saturday’s game.

“Not a distraction at all,” Sarkisian said Thursday about the incidents.

But from the outside looking in, the events of the past week seem to highlight a broken program, struggling through the motions as it flounders through another disappointing season.

After redshirt junior quarterback Casey Thompson came out misfiring on Texas’ first four offensive drives, Sarkisian pulled the signal caller in favor of redshirt freshman Hudson Card, whom Sark initially tabbed as QB1 to start the season before pulling him in the Arkansas game.

The decision appeared to work initially, with the redshirt freshman leading the Longhorns on an extensive 14-play, 78-yard drive for Texas’ first points of the game. The drive was capped off with a 4-yard flip pass to freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

With Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense playing one of its best halves of the season, the Longhorns appeared to be in a good spot, taking another halftime lead into the locker room, though this one was only 7-3.

Then came the second half. At one point, the offense had rallied off five straight three-and-out drives, completely unable to move the ball. Eventually it became clear that it would not matter who takes the snap at quarterback. The offense would struggle regardless.

In the third quarter, the Longhorns managed just 6 yards of total offense. Texas ran the ball five times in the quarter for just 5 yards. No matter what the coaching staff chose to do, it did not work. New quarterback? Didn’t matter. Play calling? Ineffective. Halftime adjustments? Nowhere to be seen.

With the game having already slipped out of grasp with a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter, sophomore running back Bijan Robinson fumbled the ball for just the second time of his career. Iowa State recovered.

The image that was broadcast on televisions across the country — Texas’ star running back lying face down on the ground after coughing up the football — was incredibly representative of the Longhorns’ 2021 season.

As Robinson slowly got up, it was hard to tell whether he had to do so because of injury or devastation. Regardless, he was escorted to the locker room.

His game, just like Texas’ season, was over.

On Thursday, Sarkisian was asked if taking over the Texas job was tougher than he thought it would be going in.

“I don’t think it’s tougher,” Sarkisian said. “I knew what I signed up for.”