AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns are back in action this week, traveling to McLane Stadium to face No. 16 Baylor Saturday at 11 a.m.
Both the Longhorns and Bears had a bye over the weekend, giving each team an extra week to prepare for this pivotal Big 12 matchup in Waco. The Longhorns are trying to stay alive in the Big 12 championship race while Baylor is in the thick of it. Baylor’s only loss this season was at Oklahoma State.
Texas is focused on finishing games after two straight weeks of second-half meltdowns. The Longhorns lost back-to-back games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State after leading at halftime.
On the injury front, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian says linebacker DeMarvion Overshown is back at practice. Defensive back Kitan Crawford is still considered day-to-day.
Here’s what Sarkisian said Monday to the media.
“Good to get back on the field today. I thought the bye week was good for us on a couple of fronts. We had guys able to get healthy. Work on some schemes and develop some players that we’re going to need here in the second half of the season was good for us. And then…working on us from a psyche standpoint. It’s not about our capability to perform. We’ve proven that. We’ve shown that through the first half of games, but the ability to finish was obviously a big point of emphasis for us last week. Did as much psychologically as we did from a physical standpoint. I loved what I saw. I thought the energy was really good.”
How did you work with team on mental approach?
“What we tried to do was get them to understand…the circumstances shouldn’t determine your ability to do something or not. We went through a couple of different exercises that pertain to that, watched a video that pertained to that, had a lot of dialogue about that. If you’re capable to do something in the first or second quarter, and the looks remain the same in the third and fourth quarter, clearly if we don’t execute it…that’s not the opponent, that’s us being distracted by some outside influence. Sometimes it’s fatigue…the key for us is can we keep doing the right thing. We wouldn’t ask them to do something that we didn’t think they were capable of doing. They’ve shown that they were capable of doing. It’s our job to get them to sustain that. That comes with trust, that comes in trusting their own preparation. I think they understood it and bought into it. The key to the drill this week is the preparation piece and the repetition of it.”
Did Sarkisian see a frustration level from his team after last 2 games?
“I think there was a real level of frustration. I would’ve been more concerned if there wasn’t. I think the frustration comes in from…I think they know they’re capable of doing it. When it doesn’t happen, later in the game, there is a level of frustration. We want to put ourselves in position that we do it so well that…we shouldn’t worry about the moment. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to doing it in-game, but we shouldn’t put that that is the test when in reality we should be testing ourselves everyday to see how far we can take this thing. This idea of doing it right and doing the next right thing for the next play.”
Looking at the Big 12 standings, how much is the team aware of bigger goals?
“I think our team is really aware. I’m not one to not point out the obvious. They read, they see what’s happening. The bigger thing is us playing really well Saturday. If we trust our process, we’ll get the results we want. It’s one thing to recognize what may be ahead, but if you look too far ahead, you may miss what’s in front of you. We need to be careful looking too far down the road and not miss what’s right in front of us. To think our guys don’t understand that, that wouldn’t be fair to them and it would probably insulting to them. Our focus is to refocus in on what we need to do this week against a really good team.”
How long does it take a team to put the pieces together?
“Finishing games and winning those tight games like that is contagious. When you can do it once, you can do it twice, you start to build that confidence and belief in doing it. You have to do it the first time, to do it the second time…and it becomes who you are. People can say it’s year one, it’s going to take time. I’m about…how quickly can we get there. It’s a race and how quickly can we get it all right. When our guys operate and perform, it’s a beautiful thing. Now, there’s that last component…just to finish the game. How do you finish the game? You play the next play. How long that takes? I don’t know. I’m sure it’s different for every team, for every coaching staff that’s new. Quite frankly, every year, regardless if you’re a new staff or not.”
Sarkisian’s evaluation of Gerry Bohanon
“Bohanon is a really efficient player. I think he’s got 12 or 13 touchdowns and only one interception. Clearly, he takes care of the ball. Obviously, they are a run-first offense and the run game sets up a lot of what they do in the passing game. The biggest thing he probably does is take care of the football. He does a nice job, managing all of that but in the end he takes advantage of it.”
Sarkisian’s thoughts on offensive line
“I think getting Derek [Kerstetter] back was a really good move for us. I think having some competition at left tackle has been good for Christian [Jones] and Andrej [Karic]. I think Junior…he needed the week to get his body back right. I think Jake [Majors] needed the week to get his body back right and obviously it’s a really good opportunity for Tope [Imade]. I thought there were a couple plays as a guy first time starting, that he’s probably like to have back. Those are all some of the learning curve that you get when you play. In the end, whatever we do run-wise and protection-wise, making sure those guys are in the right position to have success and we’re going to need it this week. This is a really good defensive front. Their nose tackle is a disruptive guy. We need to play a really sound game up front.”
Any factors you want to change when team plays on the road
“One, this one is a little unique with the bus trip instead of flying anywhere. It’s a little bit different. Ultimately from a cadence standpoint offensively, we really ran into that at Arkansas and we have to prepare for that at Baylor. Definitely going to put more work into that this week. Defensively, it’s not really about being on the road, it’s just about doing our job. For us, it’s not really about home or away, it’s about the complete 60 minutes of football.”
How can Casey Thompson be better prepared to play?
“What has stood out when we’ve gotten the looks that we’ve really tried to get done…Casey has played well. The one thing we’re looking at is just to make sure from an install standpoint from week to week that we’re giving him enough repetitions at these plays if we don’t get the coverage that we’re looking for that he knows where to go with the ball with his secondary reads.”
On Bijan Robinson’s efforts to be a vocal leader
“Vocal leadership is good when you do right. Bijan clearly is a guy that can be as vocal as he wants to be because he’s an unbelievable player, he’s a great work ethic, he’s a great human off the field. To me, it would be a positive, but I only want him to go down that road when he’s comfortable to go down that road. He’s in the middle of his second year if that’s the space he wants to get into…I’m all for it. He’s only going to provide quality advice for the guys around him. Clearly he handles his business in a tremendous manner whether it’s in his preparation, who he is off the field and his competitiveness when he plays in games. He’s got a really good guy to learn from and to see it. Roschon [Johnson] is tremendous at it, so I think it’s helpful for Bijan. Ultimately, vocal leadership…you need to make sure the guys that are vocal are doing right. If not, it goes on deaf ears because the guys don’t want to hear somebody yelling at them that doesn’t do right and they know doesn’t do right.”