Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian invokes Nick Saban, says Longhorns must avoid 'rat death' of sudden praise

Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian invokes Nick Saban, says Longhorns must avoid ‘rat death’ of sudden praise

Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian channeled Nick Saban on Monday, issuing a warning to his Longhorns after their near upset of No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.

“First of all, to quote my former boss, we have to be careful of the rat poison of people telling us how good we are, which is important,” Sarkissian said. “A week ago everyone told us how bad we were. Now this week everyone wants to tell us how good we are. We have to be careful to quiet the noise outside of our building and focus on us.”

Alabama, which had won 53 straight non-conference games, had to kick a field goal with 10 seconds left to beat the Longhorns 20-19 in front of a record crowd of 105,213 fans at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas was a 21.5-point underdog going into the game, the biggest gap the Longhorns had faced at home since the 1978 FBS/FCS split.

“I really wanted to talk about it because, you know, I also get the text messages,” Sarkisian said. “I get the phone calls. ‘Hey, you’re awesome, man. You’re great’, this and that. Thanks, but you know, we still have work to do.”

The Longhorns face a UTSA team that went 12-2 last season and won the Conference USA title. It’s the first time the two schools in the system have faced off, with UTSA just beginning a football program in 2012. Texas hasn’t lost to a current Group of 5 team since Rice in 1994, though that the Owls had been Southwest Conference rivals at that time. indicate. UTSA is 1-1 after a triple overtime loss to No. 24 Houston and an overtime win at Army last weekend.

“They have our attention,” Sarkissian said. “It didn’t take long this morning when we turned on the tape for them. They’re getting your attention. We have to be ready to go.”

Sarkisian was particularly impressed with the performance of his defense against Alabama’s offense, including Heisman winner Bryce Young, who was sacked twice and suffered 12 retirements. But again, he said it was important the Longhorns didn’t rest on that performance.

“As I said to the team, especially in defense, but to the team in general: we have now created a new standard of what is acceptable, what is our standard of play,” Sarkisian said. . “And now we are held to the level of defense that we play. We have to reach that level and go beyond it. So now is not the time to relax, now is not the time to take a step back. Now is the time to push even harder to take it to a new level.”

The reminders echoed Sarkisian’s comments on Saturday after the game, when asked if the perception of Texas football has changed even after a tough loss.

“I don’t care,” Sarkissian said. “I care about our team. Perception doesn’t matter. The perception was that we were supposed to go out and blow ourselves up. So I don’t know. Too bad for the perception.”

There will be pre-game intrigue over the Texas quarterback’s situation. Following the injuries to starting quarterback Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card on Saturday, Sarkisian did not reveal who will be taking first-team snaps in practice this week for the Longhorns.

“It’s for me,” he said.

Ewers suffered a collarbone injury on a hit in the first quarter of the Longhorns’ loss to Alabama and went to the locker room and returned to street clothes for the remainder of the game. Sources told ESPN that Ewers will miss at least a month with a sternoclavicular sprain in his left shoulder, which was confirmed by an MRI on Sunday. Card substituted for him and finished the game, but was hampered enough by an ankle injury that Sarkisian said he had to adjust his game plan to protect him.

Running back Bijan Robinson said his shoulder was bumped but said after the game he expected to get treatment and see how he felt. Starting cornerback D’Shawn Jamison, also fourth all-time in Texas history in punt return yards, injured his ankle in the first half and did not return.

“All these guys are hand to mouth. I really don’t know,” Sarkisian said. “We’re going to have to check on them every morning to see where they’re at. The beauty of it all for all these guys, it’s nothing structural, it’s not surgical. It’s not broken. It’s not “It’s not ligament damage. We just have to watch them day to day and we’ll see who we can get them back and when we can get them back.”

Sarkisian confirmed on Monday that redshirted first-year quarterback Charles Wright, who began warming up on the sidelines at some point while Card was in the game, would have been “the next man” if Card were to go out. Sarkisian would also only say that QB Maalik Murphy, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound freshman who was a four-star recruit and No. 250 in ESPN300 2022, is “not healthy.”

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