‘We can’t play cautious’: Texas coach Steve Sarkisian on loss to Oklahoma State

Horns Report

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian knows his team has a second-half problem after back-to-back late game losses.

The Longhorns were outscored 19-7 in the second half against Oklahoma State Saturday, losing 32-24 at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. It’s the second straight Big 12 loss and overall third loss of the season for Sarkisian’s team.

In postgame, the Longhorns first-year head coach constantly referred back to the second half failures, saying he believes his team is struggling to mentally respond to adversity. Texas flat out wasn’t able to execute in the second half against the Pokes.

Sarkisian and the coaching staff must go to work, finding solutions for a team that loses its confidence after halftime. They’ll have two weeks to get it right. Texas is on bye next week before heading to Baylor for an Oct. 30 game in Waco.

Here’s what Sarkisian said after the Oklahoma State game.

Opening statement

“Two weeks in a row where we’re playing pretty well and something happens in the game…we end up throwing the pick-6 with the opportunity to go up 24-3. For us as a team to go where we want to go, we can’t just hold on. We can’t think to hold on because a couple things don’t go our way. We have to think that something good is right around the corner. Right now, we’re in a space where we get a lead, something doesn’t go our way and we harbor negative thoughts and those thoughts lead to cautious play, uncertainty…untimely errors. We had some untimely errors that were crucial. I thought our defense held on as long as they could. You can’t go three-and-out four times in a row…ultimately, the dam broke. They got the lead and we couldn’t execute enough offensively to get it back. Today we did not play to our capabilities. There’s some things that we need to work on mentally.”

Injury Report

DeMarvion Overshown (linebacker) – concussion
Kitan Crawford (defensive back) – hamstring

What is the biggest problem in the 2nd half?

“We’re all kind of taking turns. For whatever reason, we’ve had a couple different false starts which we don’t have early in the game. We had two issues on snaps. We don’t block the same play, the same run, the same way Ultimately, that’s what I’m talking about with the uncertainty. Ultimately, that’s on me. I’ve got to get it fixed. Football is 60 minutes and this has been two weeks in a row…whether we’re just trying to hold on as opposed to attacking, but we have to get it rectified. The things is…we’re capable of it because we showed it. Now we have to sustain that throughout the entire ballgame. That’s the issue and that’s what we have to fix.”

What 2nd half adjustments could be made?

“You just try to get back to doing things you know they believe in and things we executed earlier in the game. We tried to get the offensive line some confidence, tried to get the quarterback some confidence and there’s that fine line of what’s the best call for the situation and what’s the best call for the players in that situation.”

What have you learned about the team as games start going?

“I think that’s fair. Practice only shows you so much about individual players, about schemes…offense and defense and special teams. As you navigate your way through the season, things show up and it’s our job as coaches to get those things right. Sometimes, it’s players and scheme. To me, this game was about psyche. We can’t play cautious. We can’t play trying to hold on. I think that we do that. Just hoping the other team might make a mistake and Oklahoma State didn’t make mistakes. They just kept playing their game and we made the mistakes that caused them to get back into the game.”

What’s the message to players?

“You have to address it head on. We can’t act as if nothing is an issue. If we aren’t playing a certain coverage right, we would address it and try to fix it. That’s our issue. That’s what we have to do…we have to address it. We have to put in the time to do it. I don’t think it’s about talk. When those situations come up again, we don’t get stuck in that low and that we get ourselves back into a really clear state of mind.”

Evaluation of run defense

“I thought we were playing fine. Ultimately when you go three-and-out on four consecutive series, that’s tough. We did not play complementary football. Teams win championships. Not one side of the ball. That takes complementary football, that’s everybody playing together and we didn’t do that today. It’s really been two straight weeks we haven’t done that. It’s OK to have a three-and-out now and then. To go four in a row, that’s tough…sooner or later…you get out of a gap, you get cut off and the ball spits out and you end up with some fatigue. That’s why it’s a complementary game. We haven’t done a great job of that for two weeks now.”

Did Sarkisian consider trick plays to get the offense going?

“I don’t disagree. Trick plays are great when they work…sometimes they cause negative plays. We had something in mind, but we didn’t get the look we wanted and had to get out of it. Ultimately, when things aren’t going your way, you have to get back to executing. We’ve struggled at that for the last couple of weeks when things didn’t go our way. That’s on me…getting them back and how do I get them back. What state of mind do I get them back That’s the challenge. That’s why we coach and do what we do and love what we do. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Obviously, have a great challenge ahead of us and we’ll welcome the challenge.”

What Overshown’s injury meant to the defense?

“DeMarvion is obviously a great player. He’s an impactful player for us on defense and special teams. He has playmaking ability, that’s for sure. I thought Jaylan Ford did a nice job. We’ve got to look at the tape and see how it all played out. I thought Jaylan stepped in and made some big plays, but hopefully we can get DeMarvion back.”

Evaluation of Casey Thompson’s play

“I’ve seen Casey play better. I think Casey can play better, I think we can play better. I think we can coach better. I’ve seen us play better. I’ve seen us play better in the first half of the game. I hate to keep coming back to it, but we showed against the defense today to play really well and somewhere in there things didn’t go our way. We have to find a way to get him back to execution when things aren’t going our way. Clearly, we’ve got an issue there that we’ve got to work on and it’s not just Casey…it’s everyone.”

Impact of penalties on defense

“Those are big plays. I didn’t have a great look at the horse-collar on their sideline. We get the third down stop and they called Ray [Thornton] for the roughing the quarterback. It’s a tough call. I didn’t look at it specifically. Those are tough…you get off the field on third down and then you’ve got to play again. We can overcome it, but if you do it more than once in a game…those are hard things to overcome.”

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