‘Elephant in the room’: Steve Sarkisian, Longhorns won’t ignore past struggles against TCU

Horns Report

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The challenges only get bigger as the college football season progresses. Texas knows the challenge it has ahead, traveling to Fort Worth to play TCU Saturday at 11 a.m.

TCU enters this weekend’s contest off a loss to SMU, but Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian knows the Horned Frogs will give Texas their best shot. The past decade of results says TCU’s best is often good enough to beat Texas.

As Big 12 rivals, TCU is 7-2 against Texas overall. Texas has lost two straight to TCU and six out of the last seven games in the series. The Longhorns’ last win in Fort Worth was in 2013.

Texas is riding high after scoring 70 against Texas Tech in its Big 12 opener over the weekend. The success against the Red Raiders won’t mean much if the Longhorns can’t back it up with a road win.

Here’s what Steve Sarkisian said about the upcoming game at TCU.

Opening Statement

“I thought we had really good mentally intensity in that game in all three phases. I just thought the intensity, the focus and the attention to detail was really where wanted it. In the second half, we had some natural mental lapses in our intensity and focus. Those are things we’re trying to capture and get right. I love the way our team played Saturday. I thought it was a great atmosphere Saturday for an 11 a.m. kick. I look forward to our fans traveling up to Fort Worth this week. It was be a great environment for football.”

On TCU’s defense

“Coach Patterson is a great defensive coach. His team’s always play hard. They do a good job of getting themselves in the right call. They challenge you, they’re disruptive up front. We’ve got to be detailed in our preparation. It’s going to be a physical game…and ultimately we have to execute.”

Is Sarkisian gaining confidence in the offense under Casey Thompson?

“When you prepare and practice well and when I see things in practice that make sense, you have the confidence to call some of those things. That’s nothing against Hudson [Card] or just a huge benefit to Casey [Thompson]. Some things we’re trying to do and asking to do the response is better throughout the week. I do think Casey really owns the game plan. He dives into it. He studies. He’s seeing the benefits of that and obviously we are too.”

What does Sarkisian know about his team right now?

“I think we’re coachable. We’ve been very demanding. I think our players are trying really to do what we’re asking them to do. That part…take that every day as a coach. I think the last two weeks…we’ve done a nice job of affecting the opposing quarterbacks. We’ve done a nice job of eliminating the run game and making them one dimensional. When we do that, we can’t give up the big pass plays. We like to take our shots down the field. We haven’t hit one yet. That’s something that’s definitely going to be stressed this week.”

On players trusting Sarkisian’s game plan

“They’re kind of trusting me now. We’re not walking through plays for our health…we want them to run it and execute it.”

Addressing the defensive lapses in the second half

“We so far this year have played really good red zone defense. The idea is we have to minimize the explosive plays and that didn’t happen against Tech. We got to keep people out of the end zone. The mental lapse in the second half is definitely something we have to work on…now we have to continue it for 60 minutes.”

Where has Sarkisian seen improvement from the offensive line?

“When you’re running the football, the line of scrimmage is moving in a forward direction. I think we’re trusting the communication among each other. When we’re getting there, I think we’re getting there with a much nastier demeanor. We’re cerebral in a lot that we do but at the end of the day you have to defeat your man. It’s one thing to be in front of your man…we’re really sustaining and finishing blocks. I think we’re playing a lot more nasty and a lot more physical and that’s what you need to have up front.”

How can WR Joshua Moore be more involved in the offense?

“Nothing we do is really set to say we’re trying to get the ball to x receiver. We try to call the best plays. I think Josh has had a little bit of bad luck. We’ve had two or three pass interference or defensive penalties on his plays. He’s capable of making those plays…I feel confident the numbers will show the plays he can make.”

Message to the team with a motivated TCU ahead

“Some of those things…I don’t know if we want to erase them. We’re just demanding of what our approach needs to be. There’s things to clean up from last week’s game…we’re not naive to the elephant in the room that we’re 2-7 against TCU in the last nine years. We’re also not going to buy the lie that we’re going to play the same TCU team that just played SMU Saturday. We’re going to get a different animal, a different opponent Saturday. We’ve got to buckle up and get ready to play.”

Any additional injuries to report?

“We’re pretty status quo. I thought we came out of the game healthy.

Sarkisian’s takeaways from the recruiting weekend

“What an awesome atmosphere. I know everybody gets concerned about 11 a.m. kicks. I thought it was a great atmosphere and great environment. We’re a morning practice team so for our guys…kicking off at 11 a.m…we’re probably just getting off the practice field. We got a whole afternoon and evening to be with the recruits. I thought it gave us really good access.”

On Bijan Robinson’s performance Saturday

“He had a couple runs Saturday where I thought he did a really nice job of…delivering the blow but using the force of the defender to redirect his movement. Not many people can do that with the balance and body control needed to do it. He has a unique balance about him to keep his feet and redirect. He’s playing at a high level.”

On the efficiency of the Longhorns’ offense over the last two weeks

“I appreciate the way the guys are working, preparing and playing. I haven’t been around where you haven’t punted for two games. I appreciate the execution and the approach. You don’t do what you’re doing without having the third down execution and fourth down execution. Ideally, I’d love for that to go all year long but I don’t know if that’s a reality. We’ll take it right now. We’re working hard. We’re not settling and we’re going to have to continue…against TCU Saturday.”

Thought process behind fourth down attempts

“I think that’s part of it. I think they need to know I believe in them. The staff needs to know I believe in the plan. I don’t want to be arrogant in our approach to it. We are an attack-oriented football team.”

How has Casey Thompson improved with more starting reps?

“With opportunity and then with success, it lends itself to confidence. Confident players are dangerous because they want more of that success so they prepare even more. That’s the cycle that I think he’s in. He got a taste of success and dove back in and got some more. He’s finding his rhythm. It’s opportunity, success and confidence and ultimately belief and why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

On Xavier Worthy’s performance

“He’s a mature competitor. A lot of times freshmen come in and they like the flashy plays and they look at the depth chart and they just think ‘I’m going to wait my turn.’ I don’t think Xavier once ever felt that way or thought that way. He’s never been an outspoken, boastful guy and in turn I think he’s gained a little trust from the quarterbacks and us. He does it through hard work…and taking advantage of the opportunities. I don’t think any moment or game has been too big for him.”

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