Texas is making progress, but not quickly enough

Christina Huang, Double Coverage Editor

Since the beginning of the season, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian made it clear that he wanted to bring his team to the Big 12 title game in December.

“I’ve said all along, my goal is to be in Dallas (on) December 3rd,” Sarkisian said on Sept. 8. 

Sarkisian’s team can make the Big 12 title game, but Texas does not have full control of its destiny anymore. Texas must beat Baylor, and Kansas State must lose to Kansas on Saturday night. 

Prior to Friday’s game against Baylor, Texas is tied for third in the Big 12 with a 5-3 conference record and a 7-4 overall record. 

Currently, Kansas State is a 12-point favorite over Kansas. So the most likely outcome after this weekend is that Kansas State and TCU will face off in the Big 12 championship game. 

Missing out on the conference title game would be another dropped milestone in the Sarkisian era, but there were signs of improvement throughout the year.

The Texas defense currently allows 369.5 yards per game. The 2021 Texas defense allowed 426.4 yards per game. Last season, the defense was seen as a liability. This year, the defense is one of Texas’ greatest strengths. Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski clearly made the necessary adjustments to prevent a weak defense from offsetting any progress that the offense makes. 

But some fans seem to wonder, and rightfully so, whether Texas is making enough progress at a reasonable pace.

For reference, TCU head coach Sonny Dykes already has 12 wins in his first year with the Horned Frogs. Sarkisian also has 12 wins with the Longhorns, but it took him almost two years to do so. 

By the numbers, 2021 TCU and 2021 Texas are not that different. Both teams went 5-7 and 3-6 in the Big 12. But TCU leaped ahead of Texas this season, surpassing expectations while Texas is taking baby steps.

TCU manages to get itself out of tough situations, time and time again. Justthis past Saturday, TCU was down to Baylor, 28-26, and within field goal range with no timeouts. The Horned Frogs’ kicking team ran onto the field at fourth down after the offense was unable to find the endzone. With less than 20 seconds remaining, TCU kicker Griffin Kell nailed his field goal attempt to keep his team undefeated. TCU won the game, 29-28. 

Texas found itself in multiple high-stress opportunities this season but wasn’t able to deliver in the way that TCU has been doing. Texas is 2-4 this year in games decided by 10 points or less. TCU is 8-0 in games decided by 10 points or less. 

Until Texas is able to find a way to deliver in tight games in a way that TCU is doing, the progress that it’s making may not be enough to bring a Big 12 title home.