Sarkisian, Jaylan Ford excited to experience Texas Tech atmosphere

Jordan Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor

Texas football head coach Steve Sarkisian expects a raucous Red Raider welcome from Texas Tech fans this Saturday, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Sarkisian said Monday that playing in hostile road environments is one of the reasons why he loves college football and Jones AT&T Stadium is certainly tough to play in, even for teams not named Texas. During their Sept. 10 matchup against then-No. 25 Houston, the Texas Tech student section stormed the field after their  quarterback Donovan Smith ran nine yards for the game-winning touchdown. 

Ahead of the Longhorns’ first road matchup of the season, Texas basketball coach Chris Beard contacted Sarkisian about what he can expect from the Red Raiders’ fan base with this being Sarkisian’s first time coaching the Longhorns in Lubbock. Beard was Texas Tech’s coach before coming to Texas for the 2021 season and was met with a crowd of crazed fans booing and shouting vulgarities as the basketball team arrived in Lubbock for a game last season.

When asked if he expects a similar welcome on Saturday, Sarkisian said that he doesn’t think he will get the same reception as Beard, while also saying that opposing teams hating Texas isn’t anything new.

“There’s a lot of places you go and the opposing fans aren’t very happy (when) we show up,” Sarkisian said. “We’re the University of Texas, nobody likes us. That’s okay. We embrace the hate.”

Although morale is high in the Longhorns’ locker room after last Saturday’s dominant win against UTSA in front of the third-largest crowd in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium’s history, Texas struggled last year as the away team, dropping five games on the road. 

Despite this, junior linebacker Jaylan Ford said that his team learned a lot from last season’s failures and that no matter if they play at home or on the road, the stadium is going to be loud.

“(The losses) build something in us that no one can take away,” Ford said. “Going into battle with your brothers, it leaves wounds. (It)leaves scars and that’s what really binds us together.” 

Although notable, the stadium environment is only one aspect of the game. Going up against a talented quarterback, Sarkisian said that Smith reminds him of freshman Maalik Murphy — a highly-recruited, dual-threat quarterback that can use both his legs to extend plays and his big arm to complete any throw.

“(Smith is a) multi-talented guy that deserves a lot of our focus,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a guy that can hurt you dual threat, but I think you better be prepared to defend his arm first.”

Ford said that while Texas Tech sports has an efficient and flashy air-raid offense that can move the chains, the defense will need to keep it simple: stop the run and stop the pass. The Red Raiders can score in multiple ways with talent at wide receiver and running back, but dominating in the trenches and forcing turnovers is always the game plan. 

Despite loving when the home crowd erupts after making a big sack or breaking up a big pass, Ford is excited to play the villain role on the road. Texas’ defense doesn’t like it when the opponent steps into its end zone, and it doesn’t plan on giving Texas Tech easy scores in front of its fans.

“This is Texas, and we know wherever we go, whoever we play, they’re gonna give us their best shot,” Ford said. “We know what comes with it when we put that jersey on. It’s a Texas rivalry so we’re ready.”