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

Texas football talks how to proceed without Jonathon Brooks, keys to defeating Iowa State

Lorianne Willett
Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian during UT’s game against TCU on Nov. 13, 2023.

With a close win against TCU in the books, the Texas Longhorns sit at 91 atop the Big 12 with just two games to go. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the rest of the Longhorns will have to prepare for new challenges heading north to the coldest matchup of the year.

Texas will travel to Ames, Iowa, to face the Iowa State Cyclones in a pivotal Big 12 matchup on Saturday. The Cyclones sit a 52 in conference play, battling it out in a four-way tie for the second conference championship spot in the Big 12. Iowa State is known for its relentless defense, leading the Big 12 in passing defense and total defense.

“They make you earn it offensively,” Sarkisian said. “They possess the ball on offense, they don’t turn it over, they start to limit your possessions and so you have to be really efficient offensively.”

Running the ball will have to be a focal point for the Longhorns, but they will be short-staffed in the running back room. Redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Texas’ nail-biting win versus TCU last weekend, a huge loss for the Longhorn offense.

“Losing Jonathon for the season is a tough blow for us,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a better person than he is a football player, and he’s a heck of a football player. … Naturally, that creates a void, but it also creates opportunity.”

Brooks has amassed over 1100 rushing yards on the season as well as 286 yards through the air. Brooks ranks sixth in the nation in rushing yards for this season and leads the way in receptions and receiving yards of the top running backs in the nation.

Fortunately for the Longhorns, freshman running back CJ Baxter has improved significantly throughout the season and is finally healthy heading into the final stretch. 

“The timing is pretty incredible in that CJ is really 100% healthy again,” Sarkisian said. “I’d feel really uncomfortable if this would have happened a month ago because (Baxter) was really struggling with his foot.”

In last week’s matchup against the Horned Frogs, Texas held a 26-6 lead entering the fourth quarter, a surprising stat given that the game ended 29-26. The Longhorn offense struggled without Brooks, and the defense crumbled in the fourth quarter. 

“The fourth quarter, we didn’t play very good football,” Sarkisian said. “That starts with our ability to continue to motivate the players to have the right mental intensity.”

The defense gave up 116 passing yards passing in the fourth quarter alone and saw TCU score three touchdowns in three drives in the final quarter. If not for a heroic catch from junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell to seal the game, then TCU would’ve had the ball back with all the momentum and a minute to potentially tie or win the game. 

“He has the experience and he knows what it takes,” junior wide receiver Xavier Worthy said about Mitchell, who transferred from Georgia in the offseason after winning two national championships. “(He’s) saying little things and you take that to note because he’s been there and done that.”

Sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers returned from injury against TCU and is set to start again against the Cyclones. Ewers had 317 yards and a touchdown with a 67% completion percentage, helping drive the offense downfield, especially in the first drive.

“Quinn has been hitting rehab every day, I see him every day in there,” Worthy said. “He’s a soldier, fighting back like that.”

Between Ewers, Mitchell and Worthy, who caught 10 passes for 137 yards on Saturday, the Longhorns have plenty of firepower to continue without Brooks, and the emergence of Baxter and the running backs behind him will be key for victory against Iowa State.

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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.