AUSTIN (KXAN) — Jordan Whittington and Ja’Tavion Sanders celebrated the Longhorns’ 49-0 pummeling of the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday the only way you can at the State Fair of Texas — with a lot of fried food.
In postgame interviews with the Longhorn Network, Whittington said he was moments away from getting a funnel cake topped with ice cream and chocolate while Sanders was all about savory celebratory delights, a turkey leg and a corn dog. Both described their fair choices with huge smiles like they were about to get the most satisfying cheat meal of the season — which given the circumstances, it probably was.
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But when the Longhorns returned to Austin from its Red River blowout win, the celebration turned into intense focus as the team turns the page to face Iowa State at home on Saturday.
“I love what we’ve been doing the last eight quarters from a complementary football standpoint, that’s something we’ve been trying to preach,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Coach [Matt] Campbell has done a great job at Iowa State. This is going to be a big week for us from a preparation standpoint for us, mental focus and intensity, to put ourselves in a position to play well on Saturday.”
Sarkisian said the staff and players, “enjoyed the win,” until Sunday morning when the staff met to review the Oklahoma tape and start the book on the Cyclones.
“The guys came in with good intent, and there was a lot of learning on a Monday for us,” Sarkisian said. “We didn’t play great against them last year. I think our guys are hungry to go out and play a better brand of football this year.”
The Cyclones ran the Longhorns out of Jack Trice Stadium last season by a 30-7 score. Breece Hall, now the starting running back for the NFL’s New York Jets, torched the Longhorns for 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Brock Purdy nearly hit 300 passing yards. Those playmakers for the Cyclones are gone, however, wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson still remains and has the Longhorns coaching staff’s full attention.
“These guys have been close in a lot of football games this year and they’ve played great defense,” Sarkisian said. “They do a good job of possessing the football and finding their playmakers, most notably Xavier Hutchinson, who is a dynamic wide receiver.”
Hutchinson caught eight passes for 96 yards and threw a 49-yard touchdown pass in last year’s game.
As the Longhorns work to turn things around from their 5-7 season last year, Sarkisian said the team “has grown up and matured,” and that tells him the team is headed in the right direction.
“We can talk about culture, maturity and all those things, put it on a board and all that,” Sarkisian said. “The reality of it is that it’s about our actions. Our actions tell me the direction we’re headed in, and ultimately we have to put it on the field Saturday. That’s the key to the drill.”
The Longhorns have a vastly-improved defense this season, and as the Big 12 Conference schedule gets into the grit from late October into November, the scope of exactly how much they’ve improved will come into focus. Sarkisian said most importantly, the team is playing hard, something they didn’t always do last season.
“Ultimately, it’s complete buy-in by the players and I think our effort is as high as it’s ever been,” Sarkisian said. “We’re getting to the football, you see 11 guys flying to ball with great effort and we’re tackling well. Schematically, we’re doing things week-to-week that are beneficial to our success.”
Coming out of the Oklahoma game, Texas is ranked No. 35 in the country in total defense, allowing 338 yards per game. They are tied for 23rd overall with Texas A&M in scoring defense, allowing 17.83 points per game. With some of the conference’s best offensive teams still on the schedule, the country is about to see how far the Longhorns’ defense has come from a year ago.
Longhorns named Cheez-It Bowl national team of the week
For their efforts against the rival Sooners, Texas was named the national team of the week by the Football Writers Association of America. It’s the fourth time Texas has received the honor since 2018.
It was the first time since 1965 that the Longhorns shut out Oklahoma, and it was the worst shutout loss for Oklahoma since 1947. It was also the first time the Sooners had been shut out since 1998.
Jerrin Thompson and Jaylan Ford each had seven tackles while D’Shawn Jamison and Jahdae Barron each had interceptions.
Ewers named Big 12 newcomer of the week
Redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers returned to the field in a big way Saturday, and he was named the Big 12 Conference’s newcomer of the week following his four-touchdown day.
It was Ewers’ first game back since a collarbone injury knocked out of the Alabama game in the first quarter, but by the way he played, it didn’t look like he missed a down. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards with four scores and an interception. He threw two touchdowns to Sanders and one each to wide receiver Xavier Worthy and running back Keilan Robinson.