Sarkisian pushes back against depth chart controversy, stresses need for further competition

Payne Williams, Senior Sports Reporter

In an apparent break from tradition, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian chose Monday not to release an official depth chart for Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe.

The decision, while not unheard of, raised some eyebrows and questions across social media, and Sarkisian pushed back on the chatter when speaking with reporters Thursday.

“You guys made way too big of a deal about this whole depth chart thing,” Sarkisian said. “I was shocked that it got so much attention.”

Depth charts are typically released by head coaches in advance of a team’s upcoming game and provide a glimpse of the roster and positional role that each player will fulfill. Despite Sarkisian releasing an official depth chart each week last season, it’s not uncommon for teams to withhold these depth charts early in the season to prevent future opponents from gaining a competitive advantage.

A depth chart may also be withheld if coaches are still gauging where players stand in regards to positional battles, which Sarkisian alluded to Monday.

“This is an important week for us from a competition standpoint,” Sarkisian said. “A lot of guys are going to play (Saturday) … whether a guy is a one (starter) or a two (backup).”

Glancing around college football, some Big Ten teams like Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State chose not to release depth charts as well. Texas has traditionally done so, however, and the rest of the Big 12 teams did so this week. Nick Saban, the head football coach at Alabama who Sarkisian worked under from 2019-20, released his annual depth chart Monday morning.

The lack of depth chart could be a strategic decision from Sarkisian to prevent teams like Alabama, Texas’ week two opponent, from gaining any sort of roster insight on the Longhorns. 

In addition, Texas may simply have too many newcomers to form a reliable depth chart this early in the season. With multiple injuries suffered in training camp, all hands are on deck, and the roster situation is in flux.

“This week has got to be about us playing our game at a really high level and seeing who’s ready for the moment,” Sarkisian said. 

One of the main positional groups that remains unclear heading into week one is the kicking position. Sarkisian said for now, freshman Will Stone will handle the kickoffs, but he was more fluid about who would kick field goals, whether it be Stone or redshirt sophomore Bert Auburn.

“We’re going to take this thing through the week and try and put them in stressful situations,” Sarkisian said. “It’s just hard on coaches sometimes to get a gauge on what it’s going to look like when the real bullets are flying.”

While much remains unclear about who will take the field initially against the Warhawks on Saturday, the depth chart will eventually become more clear in the following weeks, even if Sarksian doesn’t release official charts.

“The reality is that they’re all going to play (starters and backups),” Sarkisian said. “That can happen on special teams, offense and defense.”