Blaine Young/The Daily Texan
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the November 19 Double Coverage flipbook.
In his first season as Texas football head coach, Steve Sarkisian is setting records — just not good ones. After losing to Kansas in overtime on a 2-point conversion, Sarkisian became the first Texas head coach in program history to begin his first year 4–6. If the Longhorns want to finish the season strong, they are going to need a win on the road in Morgantown this Saturday to battle for bowl eligibility.
Texas wins if …
… Roschon Johnson carries the backfield
With news that star sophomore running back Bijan Robinson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury, the backfield turns to a friendly name in junior Roschon Johnson. Johnson made headlines in 2019 when the former quarterback transitioned to running back and rushed for over 600 yards on the season. Johnson will get the start in the backfield and has the capability to break out for big gains with his elusive moves. Look to see how the running attack is with Johnson as the feature back.
… the offense does not turn over the ball
A big blow to Texas’ chances of winning against the Jayhawks was the turnover margin. Kansas scored on three of the Longhorns’ four turnovers while the Texas defense did not produce a turnover all game. Sarkisian and staff need to stress the importance of how a positive turnover margin can greatly benefit the team. If the offense does not give the ball away at all, then the Longhorns will be one more game away from bowl eligibility with the chance to finish the season on a high note.
… the defense stops the run
The Texas defense is currently allowing an average of over 200 yards on the ground through 10 games this season. The West Virginia offense doesn’t rely heavily on the run, but based on how Texas struggles to stop the run game, look to see the Mountaineers hand the ball off to senior Leddie Brown frequently. Brown is an explosive back who has rushed for over 750 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The Longhorn defense will need to be ready to stop the experience back because if they do, Texas will have won three straight games against the Mountaineers over the past three seasons.
Loses if …
… quarterback changes are constantly made
After Sarkisian listed “or” between Hudson Card and Casey Thompson in last week’s depth chart, the head coach has given the starting nod to Thompson against West Virginia. Instead of going into the game with uncertainty, Sarkisian knows who will be under center. If the coaching staff decides to make changes to the man under center during contest, then it could hinder the offense’s ability to grow into the game. To build and keep momentum, Texas will need the same quarterback on the field to take charge of the offense. If the coaches switch between both Card and Thompson, then the blue and gold crowd will be singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in celebration after the contest.
… West Virginia receivers take advantage of Josh Thompson’s replacements
Senior cornerback Josh Thompson will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering an injury against Kansas. Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will be relying on senior Darion Dunn and sophomore Kitan Crawford to fill the void. With little playing time this season, look to see how these Texas corners match up against the Mountaineer wide outs. West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will test the two replacements early and often. If Dunn and Crawford don’t step up, then it could be a long trip back to Austin for the Longhorns.