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

Steve Sarkisian is thankful for his 2021 loss to Kansas

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.

Two years ago, Texas football lost at home to a 1-8 Kansas team in overtime on a two-point conversion. This year the teams will meet for the last time as Big 12 opponents in Austin. But, the matchup looks a little different this time. Both teams are ranked and undefeated. 

In 2021, left tackle Christian Jones took the loss especially hard. A sophomore at the time, Jones, now a senior, has switched to the right side of the offensive line. 

“It broke me,” Jones said. “That (game) was also a turning point in my career here, and for the rest of the team not wanting to experience that again.” 

Head coach Steve Sarkisian turned his program around after that loss in his first season as head coach, but still looks back on the stinging memory. No. 3 Texas still has several players who played in that game during Sarkisian’s first season.

“It hurts to lose as a competitor,” Sarkisian said. “(Kansas) made some plays at critical moments. The game didn’t go our way, but in a weird way, I’m kind of glad that happened. Not all storms come to cause issues in your life. Some storms come to clear the path, and I felt like that storm cleared a path for us on what we needed to do.”

Since then, Texas went 8-5 in 2022 and is currently 4–0 and the No. 3 program in the country. This year, Sarkisian made the message clear that his team is focused on itself and winning championships, and his players have completely bought in. 

“If we handle what we had to handle during the week, keep the same preparation, the same routine, the result will be the same,” Jones said. “It’s all about us focusing on the inside of our four walls and worrying about what we have to do.” 

In Texas’ first Big 12 game against Baylor last week, it stayed focused and played what Sarkisian called complementary football. 

The defense did not allow Baylor to score a touchdown, holding the Bears to only 365 yards and just 60 on the ground. Two critical red zone stops off muffed punts by Texas punt returners allowed sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers to storm the offense down the field. 

“I was really proud of our guys’ ability to play complementary football,” Sarkisian said. “We get a stop. We get a big punt return. Two plays later, touchdown. We’re in the low red (zone) fourth down, Jaylon Ford gets an interception. I didn’t love him bringing it out, but we get the ball on the five and then the offense goes 95 yards for a touchdown.”

Ewers has found his offensive stride and is able to dominate defenses while having fun on the field. Against Baylor, he threw for 293 yards, one touchdown and ran for another. He has yet to throw an interception this season.

Sarkisian and Ewers have both noticed his freer style of play this season but are not overlooking the challenge of Kansas.

“(Kansas is) a great team,” Ewers said. “We go into every single game like it’s a championship game, and we don’t overlook any opponent. We all keep our cool. We don’t flinch when adversity strikes. I couldn’t be more proud of the way this team handles our business.”

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About the Contributor
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.