What Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said after Longhorns’ bowl dreams dashed

Horns Report

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns will not be going bowling for the first time since 2016. Texas’ bowl hopes were lost after a 31-23 loss at West Virginia Saturday.

The Longhorns never led Saturday, dropping Steve Sarkisian’s first season at Texas deeper into disappointment. Texas has lost six straight games, which is the worst losing streak since 1956.

Texas has missed four bowl games in the last 23 seasons– 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2021. Sarkisian is still looking for his team’s first complete effort of the season. The Longhorns’ offense didn’t pick up a first down until the second quarter, placing the Texas defense in a bind.

The Longhorns will finish the regular season next Friday at 11 a.m. at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium against Kansas State. Here’s what Sarkisian said after the Longhorns’ loss at West Virginia.

Opening statement

“We didn’t start the game very good. Our inability to throw the football created a plethora of three-and-outs. It’s unfortunate because our guys battled and gave us a chance in the second half. Unable to generate the pass rush to make the quarterback uncomfortable. They controlled the ball and limited our opportunities. Ultimately, offensively, not nearly enough consistency in the passing game.”

On missing a bowl game

“The practices would be great. Would be nice. I think it’s about the psyche and the mindset. We’ve got to finish the season strong. We owe it to our seniors. We’d like nothing more than to send them out with a win at DKR. As we build this thing, as we build this culture, recognizing this has been a difficult stretch for our players and our program. We just haven’t broken through yet and that’s the frustrating part. Every time it feels like there’s a different story to tell. They gave themselves a chance…unfortunately, we couldn’t make the plays late to do that.”

Was third down defense the key to game?

“The whole key to it. We’re struggling to stop the run and then we get some stops and then we get them to third down…it’s frustrating. We had the momentum and couldn’t get off the field.”

Evaluation of quarterback

“I thought he was playing well. Casey was not 100% coming into the game. He just couldn’t throw the way I know he’s capable of throwing. It’s frustrating for him and frustrating for us. I thought Hudson competed his tail off and then he gets injured. It’s a questionable call whether it was late or not. Definitely adversity struck today, but all day long. I appreciate Hudson and Casey battling.”

On the Longhorns rushing game

“I thought Roschon and Keilan both stepped in nicely. When you don’t have Bijan out there, that’s a factor. They were effective in the passing game and I thought we blocked things pretty well. The run game was a positive to get things going offensively.”

What’s the issue with the third down defense

“I’ll never place blame. That’s not what I’ll do. When you look at third-and-7 plus…that’s a low percentage to convert on. When they’re hitting two, three, four of those in a game…that’s tough. It starts with pass rush. We never made him uncomfortable when he had to move in the pocket. We’ve got to continue to work on our awareness in the back end and generate a pass rush on these obvious passing downs.”

Can you pinpoint the late-down defensive issues?

“There was a lot of perimeter things. A lot of what they did with the deeper crossing routes and the shallow crossing routes…the recognition of what’s the down and distance. If it’s third-and-4…the shallow cross is coming. We’ve just got to continue to improve in our situational awareness.”

What’s Sarkisian’s message to the fans?

“The first thing to the fanbase. Don’t think that our players aren’t working hard and battling hard. Clearly we’re not a finished product. This is a difficult stretch that we’re on. We’ve got a lot of Texas fight in us. I’m looking forward to singing the Eyes of Texas and not having to listen to their song.”

Do you have an injury update for the quarterbacks?

“I don’t know yet. They’re both getting x-rayed so I’ll have a better report for you Monday.”

Thoughts on slow start for the offense

“It could’ve been very easy for our guys to fold the tent. Very similar to last week…what we do early in the game has an impact late in the game. We have to perform earlier in the game. That’s as much on us as coaches…we have to be mentally prepared to focus as a team.”

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