AUSTIN (KXAN) — Steve Sarkisian’s certainly not lacking for confidence as he heads into his first training camp at Texas.
“I think we’re plenty talented to compete for a championship,” Sarkisian said. “Now, what I need to recognize is…are we playing at a level to compete for a championship, but I do believe we have the talent, we have the depth to do it, I think we’ve put in a lot of really good work over eight months and now we’ve got to kind of tie it all together. Quite frankly, I feel really good.”
The health of his team is certainly contributing to why he’s so positive. According to Sarkisian, over 90% of the Longhorns are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And when it comes to injuries, only running back Gabriel Watson and linebacker Ben Davis are the only players who will be limited to open camp.
What could could give Sarkisian pause, though, is the fact that he has two relatively unproven options at quarterback in Casey Thompson and Lake Travis product Hudson Card.
“We outlined some things that we wanted both of them to work on this summer, and both these guys have put forth the effort,” Sarkisian said. “I think they’ve both been very diligent in their approach to what they’re trying to do.”
Thompson and Card are battling to take over for Sam Ehlinger, a four-year starter and unquestioned team leader who left for the NFL. While neither guy can replace what he brought in terms of experience, they can at least start making their mark with the basics.
“A year ago, Sam had been here for so long and had such a presence on this team,” Sarkisian said. “Part of the process for Casey and Hudson isn’t just the offense and knowing what to do and how to do it and where to go with the ball, it’s developing the trust and the confidence from their teammates and their coaches that they can handle the stage of being the quarterback at the University of Texas.”
Whoever does get that moniker won’t have to carry the weight of the entire offense all on his own, like Ehlinger so often had to do.
Running back Bijan Robinson will be the focus of the offense with Sarkisian wanting him to average about 20 carries per game.
“Clearly, he’s a very talented player,” Sarkisian said about Robinson. “We’d be remiss not to get him the ball, so we’ll be sure that he gets the necessary touches to make him the best player that he can be, but also not to sacrifice what we want to do with some of the other guys on offense.”
Of course, regardless of how Texas performs this year, and who does what on the field, the Longhorns’ looming move to the SEC will be a running theme. While the move was well beyond Sarkisian’s control, it was done mostly for the sake of his sport.
“I’ve got a great deal of trust and faith in our leadership here,” Sarkisian said. “The SEC’s a tremendous football conference. There’s definitely big people, there’s talented people, there’s good coaches. So that’s something, when we get to that point, we’ll worry about. But, quite frankly, just as we touched on with the team, we’ve got a lot of unfinished business here in the Big 12 that we wanna make sure we take care of.”
The Longhorns open the season on Sept. 4 against Louisiana.