Simply put, Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian did not feel as if the Longhorns played up to their standards over the weekend.
On Saturday, Texas was beaten in overtime at Texas Tech. The Longhorns held a 14-point lead in the second half, but Tech kicker Trey Wolff’s 20-yard field goal was the difference in the Red Raiders’ 37-34 victory at Jones AT&T Stadium.
The loss cost Texas its No. 22 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25. In fact, Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) didn’t receive a single vote in this week’s poll. Four conference teams — No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Baylor, No. 18 Oklahoma and No. 25 Kansas State — are ranked, and Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU all appeared on at least one ballot.
At his weekly press conference Monday, Sarkisian said the Longhorns had not lived up to the standard that they take pride in. He decried Texas’ “self-inflicted wounds” against the Red Raiders.
And whose fault is that?
“It’s on all of us. We all take responsibility in that,” Sarkisian said. “At the end of the day, it’s our job to put our players in the best position to be successful. And then ultimately, when you gain the trust of us to put you out there to go do it, then it’s your job to go execute. So ultimately that falls on me, but then it’s our staff, and then it goes to the players. We all take responsibility.”
Texas will get a chance to rebound Saturday at home against unranked West Virginia, which is also 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Big 12. The Mountaineers lost their conference opener to Kansas in the second week of the season.
Texas will be looking to get off to a better start defensively against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are scoring 42.8 points per game. Averaging 490.0 yards per game, WVU is No. 18 nationally in total offense.
In each of its last three games, Texas has yielded points on its opponent’s opening drive. Texas Tech marched 75 yards in 18 plays. The week before that, UTSA opened with a 20-play drive that was capped by a 24-yard field goal. Alabama kicked a 52-yard field goal after its 11-play opening drive Sept. 10.
“We’ve just got to have a lot more urgency to where, like, all right, we want to get the three-and-out; we want to get off the field now,” defensive lineman Keondre Coburn said. “It’s just on us.”
One reason Texas Tech got 18 snaps on its first possession was that it successfully converted on two fourth downs. On one of those, quarterback Donovan Smith scored on a short touchdown run.
For the game, Texas Tech went 6-for-8 on fourth downs.
“I just take it as they thought they could execute the plays better,” Coburn said. “Just like on Madden, when I do it, I never punt on fourth down. They thought they could win the game; instead of three plays (to get a first down), we’ve got four plays, and we’re going to execute as much as we can. They did their thing, and they came up with the victory.”
The Texas defense has faced 13 fourth downs this season and has stopped opponents on six of them. West Virginia boasts one of the country’s best fourth-down offenses, having converted nine of its 10 chances. That 90% rate is fifth-best in the nation.
“Coming into our next opponents, they’re going to just probably try to go on fourth downs and stuff like that,” said Jahdae Barron, a third-year defensive back. “We just need to get them off the field at the end of the day and stop them.”
Injury updates: Sarkisian said wide receiver Xavier Worthy was day-to-day with the lower leg injury he sustained Saturday. Sarkisian also reported that defensive lineman Moro Ojomo (ankle) practiced Monday after missing the Tech game.
Sarkisian said all four UT quarterbacks practiced. He did not update the depth chart or clarify whether redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers (clavicle) will play against West Virginia.
Red River Showdown set: Texas’ game against Oklahoma will kick off at 11 a.m., it was announced Monday. The annual rivalry game is Oct. 8 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and will be televised by ABC.
Texas and Oklahoma fans probably weren’t surprised by the unveiling of the early kickoff. Only twice in the past 14 years has this game started at a different time; the teams played at 2:30 p.m. in 2010 and 2017.
West Virginia at Texas, 6:30 p.m., FS1, 104.9