AUSTIN (KXAN) — Praise is great, and the Texas Longhorns certainly deserve it after going punch-for-punch with the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, but as head coach Steve Sarkisian put it Monday, “better never rests.”

Following the Longhorns near-upset of the top-ranked Crimson Tide, just about everybody came out in admiration of the team’s fight and resolve while overcoming injuries to key players, only to come up a point short. Since most people thought Alabama would stream roll through DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium and put a beatdown on its future Southeastern Conference brethren, that made the positive reaction to what ultimately was a loss that much louder.

It showed up in both polls. The Associated Press voters decided to put the Longhorns in their Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 21, and coaches who participate in the USA Today Coaches Poll moved them up two slots from No. 22 to No. 20. Moving up in the rankings after losing doesn’t typically happen, but in the minds of pollsters, the Longhorns’ performance against a returning Heisman Trophy winner and last year’s national runner-up warranted it.

Texas defensive back Ryan Watts celebrates a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

But now, in Sarkisian’s mind, the pats on the back, atta-boys and crisp high-fives are over. It’s time to turn the page to the UTSA Roadrunners, a dangerous team with playmakers on offense and motivation to drive up Interstate 35 and earn kudos of their own.

“I addressed it,” Sarkisian said. “I was getting the text messages and phone calls, too. ‘Hey, you guys look great,’ this and that. Well, thanks, but we’ve got more work to do.”

It’s not that he doesn’t want his players to be commended for their effort, because he does, but a lot of successful coaches operate under the 24-hour rule. As soon as the clock strikes the end of that final hour, it’s time to regain that chip on your shoulder and act like the team has an 0-0 record.

“That’s one of the challenges when human nature tells us you can relax because you’ve arrived,” Sarkisian said. “When you start letting that noise in, that can create clutter, and we play better when we have more clarity.”

Even as a Group of 5 team from Conference USA, the Roadrunners are the defending conference champs and rose to a No. 15 ranking in the AP poll last year under Jeff Traylor. Now in his second year on the job, Traylor and his staff have their system firmly in place and they’ve got tremendous athletes to execute it.

Frank Harris runs the show for the Roadrunners at quarterback, and early on, he’s one of the most productive signal-callers in the country. He’s ranked sixth among Division I passers with 348 passing yards per game and is a top-35 passer in terms of completion percentage at 68.2%. He’s thrown six touchdowns to just one interception so far, and both games the Roadrunners have played have both gone to overtime.

The season opener went the wrong way for the Roadrunners in a 37-35 triple-overtime loss to Houston, but they were better in another extra-session game with Army West Point, topping the Black Knights 41-38 on the road.

Now that Texas showed the type of defense it could play after allowing just two touchdowns to Alabama and forcing five consecutive 3-and-out drives during the game, that’s now the baseline of play, Sarkisian said, and then improve upon it. To do that, they don’t need to hear how good they were against the Tide.

“In the words of my old boss [Alabama head coach Nick Saban], we’ve got to be careful of the rat poison of people telling us how good we are,” Sarkisian said. “A week ago, everyone told us how bad we were, and now they want to tell us how good we are. We need to focus on our preparation.”