Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Sarkisian looks past Wyoming in preparation for Big 12 play

Lorianne Willett
Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian in Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 9, 2023. Before he was hired as Texas’ coach, he served as Alabama football’s offensive coordinator.

In his Monday press conference with Texas media, head coach Steve Sarkisian acknowledged the task ahead: facing Baylor, the Longhorns’ first Big 12 opponent of the season.

“The Big 12 doesn’t care that we’re 3-0,” Sarkisian said. “The Big 12 doesn’t care that we’re ranked No. 3 in the AP poll.”

Texas rose one spot in the AP Poll after last Saturday’s 31-10 victory over Wyoming, 13 spots above Oklahoma, the only other Big 12 team in the Top 25. Despite Baylor starting the season 1-2 and failing to receive AP poll votes, Sarkisian is still cautious about his team’s second road test of the year.

“We are 0-0 in Big 12 play,” Sarkisian said. “This week, we’ve got to do everything in our power to try to get to 1-0 in a hostile environment against a really well-coached, veteran team.”

The Baylor matchup is one that spans from the start of the 20th century, but for now, Saturday’s matchup will be the last one between the two teams. Texas and Baylor have shared a conference since 1914, whether it be the Southwestern or Big 12, with Texas leading the all-time series 80-28-4. With the Longhorns exiting the Big 12 in 2024, Sarkisian is aware of what this means for the fans in Waco. 

“We understand the environment we’re walking into, and we can’t be fearful of that, we have to embrace it,” Sarkisian said. “We got to walk in there and be ourselves and play our brand of football, but understand what we’re going into.”

Sarkisian did not say if Texas has plans to schedule out of conference games with Baylor or other Big 12 schools, noting that there is uncertainty about the future and that if they play one team, another may get upset.

After last week’s poor performance in the passing game, Sarkisian was adamant about improving it. Sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers had an 11% worse completion percentage on Saturday compared to his game against Alabama, and despite two touchdowns and no interceptions, Ewers failed to break the 150 passing yard mark.

“I think every aspect of the passing game needs to improve,” Sarkisian said. “Didn’t have the best play calls … I think Quinn could’ve made a couple throws that he normally would make … everybody kind of took their turn.”

Despite the struggles, junior receiver Xavier Worthy isn’t worried about Ewers.

“He’s the head of the snake,” Worthy said. “He had so much growth in the offseason and I just need to put all my trust in him regardless of what’s going on.”

Worthy ended the Wyoming game with a team lead in both catches (four) and yards (56), including a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

What Sarkisian did like was the defense’s performance. Aside from a 62-yard run on Wyoming’s first drive of the game, the defense allowed just three more points and under five yards per pass with a score on a pick-six from senior safety Jerrin Thompson. 

“I think our communication is as good as it’s been since I’ve gotten here,” Sarkisian said about his defense. “We’re playing a style of football that’s fast, that’s aggressive, that’s physical, and that’s smart.”

On the personnel side, sophomore guard Cole Hutson and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kristopher Ross each suffered injuries against Wyoming that will result in 3-4 weeks on the sidelines. Sophomore guard DJ Campbell will have full reign of the right guard spot until Hutson returns. 

Freshman running back CJ Baxter, who missed the Wyoming game after an injury suffered against Alabama, is back at practice and seems likely to play on Saturday. Sarkisian did not mention the health of junior linebacker Maurice Blackwell Jr.\

Texas will face off against Baylor Saturday for its first Big 12 matchup of its final season in the conference, marking what could be the end of an over-100 year rivalry.

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.