Texas football is gearing up for year two under Steve Sarkisian and there is a confidence in the air that is uncommon for a team coming off a 5-7 season, but there is reason for optimism in Austin.
Sarkisian spent some time retooling his roster this offseason and even added some pieces to the coaching staff that turned some heads. Texas added some top-tier talent on the offensive side of the ball and looks primed to have a big year.
However, the Texas offense wasn’t the problem in 2021, it was the defense. How will things look on that side of the ball in 2022? It should be better, and if it is, Texas will be better in 2022.
The Longhorns will get things going on the practice field on March 22, and here are three things you should be looking out for when spring practice kicks off.
Will the Defense Improve Drastically?
Texas was awful defensively in 2021, there’s no way around it. The Longhorns ranked 100th in total defense, giving up 425.6 yards per game. They ranked 99th in scoring defense, giving up 31.08 points per game, including surrendering 57 points to Kansas in a loss that will resonate for years to come. Now, Pete Kwiatkowski enters his second year as the defensive coordinator in hot water but will have some more help this season as former TCU head coach Gary Patterson was hired to be the special assistant to Steve Sarkisian. Patterson’s experience, which exceeds two decades, will certainly help the young Texas staff with game preparation. It also helps that the Longhorns added CB Ryan Watts, one of the top corners in the Class of 2020, and will likely look to him as one of the starters in a secondary that gave up points in bunches last season. The defense will need to make big strides this spring if they’re to change the story in 2022.
Is Quinn Ewers Everything He’s Supposed to be?
Five-star transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers is supposed to the next Philip Rivers, according to 247Sports’ recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks. If he is, Texas will likely be in the thick of the Big 12 race in 2022. Sark has certainly given him some weapons to work with next season, bringing in elite transfers like WR Isaiah Neyor and TE Jahleel Billingsley to add to an offense that already has RB Bijan Robinson and WR Xavier Worthy. Those weapons, coupled with the offensive line talent that Texas brought in this year, create a dangerous combination for opponents if Ewers is the answer at quarterback. He is certainly talented enough, but talent has never been the issue at Texas. If Sarkisian can get the most out of his freshman quarterback and Ewers commits himself to learning the scheme inside and out, the Longhorns offense will be potent.
Does Texas Administration Still Stand Firm Behind Sarkisian?
Spring football might be too early to answer this question fully, but it will certainly be the story next season when things get going for real. Texas shouldn’t go 5-7 next season, though one could argue that Texas should never go 5-7, given the amount of resources and talent they have every year. I do think they will be better in 2022, but how much better is the question. Chris Del Conte was very supportive of Sarkisian last year amidst the struggles that Texas was having and it will be very interesting to see if that narrative will continue next season when things get tough, and they will get tough at some point. How do I know that? Well, in Week 2 Sarkisian and his squad will host the Crimson Tide of Alabama.