What Texas football needs to fix in the offseason for any hope at a 2022 College Football Playoff run

Kaitlyn Harmon, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the November 23 Double Coverage flipbook.

A 4-7 season is not the record the Longhorns anticipated to have heading into Thanksgiving week with — it’s far from it.

When an SEC powerhouse offensive coordinator waltzed into Austin and found his way onto the Forty Acres, both college football fans and the Texas faithful expected the Longhorns to make a playoff run. And as Texas approaches its last matchup of the season against Kansas State, the Longhorns are miles away from a hyped up, hopeful playoff run — they’re not even in bowl contention, and they’re certainly not back.

But the finger isn’t entirely being pointed at recently acquired head coach Steve Sarkisian. Any new coaching job comes with growing pains and requires becoming accustomed to a new team, a new coaching staff, a new dataset of talent, even sometimes a new conference. Sarkisian’s growing pains were anticipated, but they were perhaps underestimated.

If Sarkisian has done anything well, he’s reined in a 2022 recruiting class that is No. 7 in the nation, behind top-ranked teams in Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, Ohio State and others. The first-year head coach managed to build a better recruiting class than that of Texas’ archrival Oklahoma and head coach Lincoln Riley — a program and coach known for grooming recent Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and NFL talent.

Even with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation moving to Austin come the new year, a singular recruiting class will not be the sole answer Texas is looking for to fix the Longhorns’ deep troubles before the next season kicks off. And forTexas, a Week 2 matchup at home against Alabama means that the Longhorns better get their ducks in a row in the offseason sooner rather than later.

After yet another Texas loss against Iowa State on the road, Texas moved to a 4-5 record on the season. Junior defensive lineman Moro Ojomo discussed in a press conference how Sarkisian is building a program, not just a team for a singular season, and how that includes revealing which players are for Sarkisian’s new program and which are not. Ojomo’s remarks came after a passionate video of defensive line coach Bo Davis ranting to players was leaked. The first agenda item the Longhorns need to tackle heading into the offseason is figuring out which players are in Austin for Texas football and which are not. Heart, after all, cannot be taught.

Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and the Longhorns need to develop the defensive play. Defensive backs need to better understand opposing offenses and what each opponent poses as a threat.

On the season, the Texas defense has allowed an average of 437.6 yards per game to offenses. The Longhorns have been beaten in the air with 2,623 yards and on the ground with 2,191 yards. Oklahoma State, arguably the best defense in the Big 12, averages 261.3 yards per game to opposing offenses and has given up under 2,000 yards in the air and 909 yards on the ground.

The Texas defense is mainly composed of veteran players, and could see some departures to the 2022 NFL Draft and free agency. Luckily for the Longhorns, the 2022 recruiting class has nine four-star defensive recruits coming to town.

But quite possibly the most obvious problem Texas needs to fix in the offseason is at the quarterback position. Sarkisian all too often made switches at the man under center, altering between freshman quarterback Hudson Card and junior quarterback Casey Thompson.

An offense thrives off of a consistent leader in charge, and the Longhorns saw one too many quarterbacks take snaps too frequently throughout the season. At this moment, both quarterbacks will return for another season unless Texas loses one to the NCAA transfer portal.

And if Card and Thompson fail to be the answer, sophomore quarterback Ben Ballard and three-star freshman quarterback Charles Wright are eagerly waiting to take the helm of the Texas offense.

Sarkisian and the Longhorns have a long and tiresome offseason ahead of themselves that cannot be wasted. And if it is, then Longhorn Nation has a disappointing season ahead.