AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 2021 season that brought about a 5-7 record for the Texas football team is one that fans, players and coaches surely want to forget. But with the loss Saturday at Texas Tech, a key factor that plagued the Longhorns last fall popped up again.
In Texas’ key defeats last year against the ranked teams of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor, the Longhorns blew second-half leads. In their Big 12 opener this season in Lubbock, Texas let a 31-17 lead late in the third quarter slip through their grasp.
“I don’t want that to ever happen again,” stated Longhorns junior running back Bijan Robinson about giving up the lead to the Red Raiders. “I think we’re just too good of a team to let anything slip up in the creases. Moving forward we are addressing it as a team.”
As Texas continues to battle through the gauntlet that is the Big 12 Conference slate, there will inevitably be more close games. The man in charge knows the team has to learn how to finish.
“I think it actually has to happen,” said Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian about learning how to close out wins. “I think at some point in there you gain confidence from doing it. Ultimately, hopefully, we continue to put ourselves in that position. That means we’re playing pretty good football. And then naturally once you can do it once, you can do it twice, you gain confidence in how to go do it.”
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Texas has been clear they aren’t dwelling on the struggles that 2021 brought, but the difficulty closing out games in that season has made it a focus for a long time.
“Dating back all the way to winter conditioning, when we get done with the last couple gassers, we’re calling it up saying this is the part we got to finish,” added Longhorns senior defensive back Anthony Cook. “This is the part we are going to be in come the season. So there definitely was a lot of emphasis on it and we got to keep hammering away at it until we get it.”
“We make everything hard at the end of practice just for that reason to be able to finish games,” said Longhorns sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders. “We just didn’t do a good job executing [against Texas Tech], that’s all honestly.”
Texas eyes their first Big 12 win of the season Saturday as they welcome West Virginia to town. The Mountaineers beat the Longhorns last year 31-23 in Morgantown and are the only Big 12 program that Texas does not have a winning record against. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.