The Texas Longhorns have been absolutely on fire on the recruiting trail to round out their 2022 recruiting class. With Evan Stewart still undecided, Texas must make a strong push for the best recruit still on the market. Stewart, the number three overall player on 247sports consensus board, could join wide receivers Brenen Thompson and Armani Winfield in the 2022 recruiting class.
Landing Evan’s commitment could propel Texas to the #1 recruiting class in the nation. If Sarkisian had an incredibly talented group of skill players, similar to what he had at Alabama, what can we expect from this offense? Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s break it down!
Evan Stewart’s Strengths
Stewart is one of the best wide receiver recruits in the past few seasons. He is currently boasting a 247composite ranking of .9975 (#3 overall recruit in the 2022 class). With his blend of size (6’0” 175 lbs.), speed (10.58 100 meter dash), and agility, Stewart is poised to be a game-breaker of an athlete at the college level.
Stewart isn’t just an elite athlete though. He displays incredible route running acumen for his age as well. He consistently creates separation either on his routes or by using his athleticism to jump up and snatch the ball in the air.
How Evan Stewart will be used at Texas
Often I have seen people compare Evan Stewart to Jaylen Waddle, which is a fair comparison with their speed and athleticism as a recruit. However, Stewart is going to be the alpha wide receiver at Texas in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. Waddle was always behind someone on Alabama’s wide receiver depth chart, mainly 2021 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.
Smith’s role in the Alabama offense was defined clearly, get open and get yards after the catch. Smith, obviously, aced his role and I believe Evan Stewart would as well in this Steve Sarkisian offense. Stewart has seen what Xavier Worthy has done as a true freshman. Worthy, Stewart, and Brenan Thompson (‘22 Texas recruit) would make as talented of a wide receiver corps as Alabama had on their National Championship team in 2021 with DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie III.
Stewart has the chance to be the engine in this Texas offense, and to help bring Texas back from disappointing Big-12 losses to national relevance. Steve Sarkisian is slowly building this program back up, it will take time. Texas is having a miserable 2021 season after losing three straight games, all by blowing double digit leads in the second half of the Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor games (incase you purged your memories of such embarrassment). Evan Stewart is still uncommitted, but Austin Texas seems like the perfect place for him to call home next year.
The Texas Longhorns have fallen to 4-4 after falling apart in the second half AGAIN. What is going on and why is it so hard for the Longhorns to finish games? That is what I’m looking to dive into today, 30 minutes after watching the game.
First reactions coming off the loss, I am pissed. This team has so much potential, but it seems like as soon as the 46th minute starts they quit. I don’t know what it is about the 4th quarter, but this team stops competing when it comes around. I’m tired of losing and I’m tired of the players losing focus when they need it the most.
As we’ve been saying this entire season the offensive line is horrid. I don’t understand how they are this bad. Bijan had 17 rushes for 43 yards. He is undoubtedly the best player Texas has and he can’t excel because the line gets no push up front. I’m a firm believer in whoever wins the line of scrimmage wins the game and Texas rarely wins up front.
Lets move to the defensive side of the ball. Can we just scrap every single one of those players and start over? Pete K relies on sound fundamental defense and nobody on the Texas defense knows how to play that way. It is honestly embarrassing watching this defense play outside of a handful of players.
I may get flack for saying this, but I honestly think Tom Herman instilled his “Winning is Hard” mentality on most of the Texas team. You can just sense that the older players are “Ok” with losing. Again, not all of the older players but most. The 2 players that I notice fighting until the very end are Bijan and Xavier. Every game I notice they both lay it all out there no matter what the situation/moment.
Last but not least lets discuss the coaching. I don’t believe most of these losses are on the coaching. Sark has guys running wide open on offense. Casey either misses them or doesn’t have enough time to even get the ball off. On the defensive side of the ball PK puts guys in position to make plays and what happens? Missed tackles, Guys aren’t filling the right gap, Dline doesn’t get push up front, etc. The list goes on and on.
Changing a culture doesn’t happen over night. Sark and staff will have their hands full over the next few years trying to instill a winning attitude into these brainwashed Tom Herman players. Like Sark said after the Arkansas game, “They need to hate losing more then they love winning”. Until that happens Texas will continue to lose 4+ games a year and I will continue to have extremely stressful fall weekends.
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Today I’m going to dive into a few “What Ifs” concerning our Texas Longhorns football program. Some might be a stretch. Some could be closer to reality than you think. If you don’t like these types of articles, skip to the end where you will find a short recruiting update.
If they didn’t have Bijan Robinson?
Quite honestly, Texas would have at least four losses — with the possibility of five losses. Without Bijan our team offensively would be pretty terrible. Bijan is still a Heisman contender because of how he single handedly beat TCU. Bijan was once a silent commit to Ohio State. If that silent held true we as Texas fans would be miserable with how awful the offense would be.
If they got Urban Meyer?
I don’t think our record would look much different to be honest. Urban is a great college coach no doubt, but the baggage that he brings is not worth the little bit of success that he would create. I’m glad we got Steve Sarkisian, and I think most Longhorns football fans would agree.
If they didn’t fire Tom Herman?
I don’t think our record would look much different. You could argue that Herman would’ve lost the TCU game, and I would probably agree with that. Bijan definitely wouldn’t be in the Heisman race and recruiting would be in a really bad spot.
As you see above things could be a lot worse than they currently are for the Texas Longhorns football program. I’ve been saying this since the Arkansas game: Don’t panic! Sark has been the head coach for 10 months now. That is not a lot of time to install a new game plan on both sides of the ball.
I understand the defense has looked bad recently and the offense can’t seem to get it going in the second half, but trust me, Sark is the guy who will turn it around at Texas. As long as the fanbase doesn’t turn on him too soon. Now on to the recruiting news.
There is some bad news and some good news. I’ll start with the bad. There are rumors going around that Jaydon Blue may decommit, which would be a major loss in the class. Blue was the #1 RB in the ’22 class before he decided to opt out of the season. After he opted out he dropped heavily in the rankings. Which I believe is very unfair to him.
For the good news. Texas had a HUGE visitor list over the weekend. All reports coming out of Austin are saying that Sark and Co. knocked it out of the park with recruits. Even with the loss there is a ton of buzz surrounding Texas in recruiting (outside of Blue). If Texas can finish the season strong I think a top 5 class is basically a guarantee.
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The Texas Longhorns look to open up Big 12 play with a win Saturday when they face the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. This should be an interesting contest. Tech has looked good so far this season starting out 3-0 with wins over Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and FIU. Texas on the other hand hasn’t really found there identity just yet. Texas started off the year solid with a win against a good ULL team, but got manhandled in week 2 against a surprisingly good Arkansas team. They came back strong with a blowout win against a awful Rice team, where the running game really took over.
One thing to watch for should be how Pete K’s defense holds up against their first real explosive test. Texas’ defense under PK hasn’t seen an explosive offense yet this season. I expect the defense to be stout and allow underneath passes to limit the big plays Tech wants. Don’t be surprised if Tech marches the ball down the field. So far this season I’ve noticed PK likes to play “bend but don’t break” defense. If you don’t know what that means, it’s essentially give up the underneath stuff and once they get in the redzone hold the opposing team to a field goal. It’s not a bad strategy especially if you tend not to “break” in the redzone which Texas has actually excelled at doing.
If PK and his defense can’t stop Tech expect this to be a very high scoring game. However, if PK can keep Tech under 21 points expect Texas to cruise to a win. This game will basically rely on Texas’ defensive play. Tech is a team who loves big plays and will execute them at a high volume. I know for certain Texas won’t shutout Tech like they did with Rice, but I hope the defense can hold them to under 3 TDs. If the defense can do that I’d be very happy with their performance.
Now to your favorite part of the article, Predictions. If you haven’t already checked out our full season win/loss predictions. You can checkout mine here and Ryan McAloon’s here. Anyways without further ado here are Ryan and I’s predictions for Texas Tech @ Texas.
Ryan McAloon: 45-42 Texas
Michael Farber: 42-20 Texas
I know Ryan as well as myself would love to hear your thoughts on our predictions. Be sure to comment and like the article if you enjoyed it! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter @longhorns_atb, @MichaelFarber_ (Michael Farber), and @ryfootballscout (Ryan McAloon).
Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns had a nice bounce back game last Saturday against Rice. Dominating The Owls 58-0. Texas looked disciplined, tough, and focused. To highlight their discipline: Texas had just two penalties for twelve yards all game. Let’s look at what else propelled Texas to bounce back and get ready for conference play next week. Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and we will get started.
The Longhorns Run Game
Texas might have the most talented backfield in all of college football. Headlined by Bijan Robinson, one of the most talented running backs in college football. Texas also boasts strong compliments with Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson, giving Sarkisian balance with toughness and game-breaking speed, respectively. Johnathan Brooks was a four-star running back out of Halletsville, TX. Brooks was someone who no one thought would be a big contributor as a true freshman, but he was given an opportunity Saturday during the blowout. He took it and ran well for 63 yards on 9 carries, good for 7 yards per carry. These running backs are all talented enough to play for conference champions, the only thing holding them back is the offensive line.
Kyle Flood inherited a talented but raw group. They were not developed well with the last regime and Flood is progressing them along slowly. As run-blockers, this offensive line is solid. They had good movement upfront this week against Rice, but overall they will get over powered by better competition. Arkansas proved that in Week 2. Jake Majors, a redshirt freshman, is forming into a good offensive center and leader on this line. Junior Angilau (RG—RS Junior) and Denzel Okafor (LG—RS Senior) have also been solid contributors in the run game. Christian Jones (LT—RS Junior) and Derek Kerstetter (RT—Senior) have been the two weakest links in the run game thus far.
Steve Sarkisian Highlighting Playmakers
Sarkisian did not waste any time Saturday getting the ball into his playmakers hands. Sark called on true freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy to be his secondary playmaker behind Bijan. Using touch passes, screens, and the quick game, Sarkisian made life easy for Casey Thompson and the offensive line early in the game. Worthy would finish the game with 7 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
This was the type of offense I was expecting from Coach Sark to help protect the inexperienced quarterbacks. Quick throws and screen passes that stretch the defense horizontally also help the offensive line in pass protection. The fact that Sarkisian chose to highlight Xavier Worthy over Jordan Whittington was shocking to me. Whittington had an outstanding Week 1 against Louisiana-Lafayette, but struggled against Arkansas. Whittington’s natural yards after catch ability is obvious, something Sarkisian obviously knows how to use. His struggles with drops and ball tracking have seemingly took him out of favor with the offensive staff. Hopefully Whittington has a good week of practice and works hard to earn more opportunities against Texas Tech next week.
The Defensive Front Seven
Keondre Coburn (RS Junior — 6’2” 345 lbs.) is a run stuffing nose tackle. Next to him is Moro Ojomo (RS Junior — 6’3” 290 lbs.). Ojomo has a little more in his toolbox as pass rusher, but is another rock-solid run stuffing defensive tackle. Behind them on the depth chart is T’Vondre Sweat (Junior — 6’4” 335 lbs.) who continues the trend as a solid run stuffer. There were times when all three of these, what I like to call “Hog Daddies” were in the game at the same time. Clogging up all running lanes in the middle of the field. Overshown and Brockermeyer would do a nice job cleaning up and making tackles, but the Hog Daddies upfront are the reason the linebackers don’t get blocked.
As good as Bo Davis and Texas defensive tackles are, they still have some problems on the edges. Ovie Oghoufo had a good game as a pass rusher, accounting for one sack. As a run defender though, Oghoufo was undisciplined. Crashing the edge and allowing the runner to get around them instead of holding the edge and forcing the runner inside, to the teeth of this Texas defense. He also allowed Rice’s quarterbacks to get by him on bootlegs with the same problem. Ben Davis had similar problems. Pete Kwiatkowski and Bo Davis will need to work with the edge rushers and stress the importance of setting the edge, instead of running past their landmarks and allowing a runner to get around them.
Another issue was Texas’ offensive line in pass protection. Even against Rice, Casey Thompson was under pressure often. Christian Jones and Denzel Okafor have been two of the worst pass protectors for Texas. When Rice used stunts or delayed blitzes, the left side of the offensive line was dreadful. Both playing in the left side of the offensive line is also not helpful, teams will continue to attack that side until they improve. Andrej Karic (LT—RS Freshman) and Tyler Johnson (LG—RS Sophomore) both deserve a start, in my opinion. Okafor has been good as a run blocker, but you cannot have two bad pass protectors next to eachother and expect to win many games.
Overall, The Longhorns bounced back in a big way Saturday and should be celebrated. Coach Sarkisian called a great game plan that protected his quarterback and offensive line. Pete Kwiatkowski also bounced back by calling a shut out. Even against Rice, it is impressive. This team has plenty of room to grow with a tough schedule of Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all coming up. If they continue to develop and get better we could still see a 9 or 10 win campaign by the Longhorns.