AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns will end the season on a positive note, winning on Senior Day over Kansas State Friday at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Texas defense stood tall in the second half, holding Kansas State scoreless over the last 30 minutes. Texas trailed 17-16 at halftime, but Cameron Dicker’s two second-half field goals put the Longhorns ahead for a 22-17 win.
In postgame, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t steer away from the significance of this win for his program.
This season hasn’t met the expectations of Longhorns nation, but Sarkisian said it was important to stop the six-game losing streak. Texas will more than likely not be going to a bowl game, but there’s still a slim chance UT qualifies if there aren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill all of the bowl slots.
Sarkisian will now turn his attention to recruiting with signing day just under three weeks away with plans of building the Texas roster his way.
Here’s what Sarkisian said after Friday’s win.
Sarkisian’s opening statement
“First of all, I’m really happy for our seniors. This was something we wanted for them…getting a win, being able to celebrate, being able to do the things you enjoy doing as a college football player. For them to go out like that, happy for them. This was a grind it out game. The complementary piece to the game was important. We knew they had a dynamic return game which showed up. Our ability to get off the field on third down and those fourth down stops were huge plays for us. Roschon Johnson was a warrior for us today. Happy for the guys. We’ve been through a lot. Those tough losses mount on top of one another. We often look to the result of the game to tell us if a team is trying hard or not. Our guys are trying hard and working hard…we just weren’t getting the result we were looking for. Happy for the guys…we got the win.”
When did Sarkisian start planning for a ‘Wildcat’ offense?
“I had a pretty good feeling, flying back from Morgantown. We knew how that game ended from a quarterback situation. We just felt like we had to have contingency plans available even if Casey were available. Casey was able to play, but we had already invested that time on the short week and it was pretty effective.”
How much does Roschon Johnson’s performance cement his leadership on the team?
“I think it’s helpful. Every guy in that locker room respects No. 2. I don’t think it was needed today, but it was helpful. He stands up for what he believes in. Today was a prime example…the guy is not 100%…he’s still dealing with the toe. In the end, if you didn’t respect him, you respect him now, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a guy in that locker room that doesn’t respect him.”
On the significance of snapping the losing streak during a disappointing season
“We needed to snap that losing streak. It was heavy on the organization from the top-down. As gut-wrenching as those games were…I think for our psyche in general we needed to prove it to ourselves that we could finish a game in the fourth quarter. Because of the losing streak, I was able to get a lot of clarity on the issues in our program. This was a great moment for us now…but there’s still plenty for us to work on moving forward.”
Would Texas accept a bowl bid if offered at 5-7?
“One, I’m not big on the hypotheticals…we’ll figure it out if we get that bridge to cross. We’ll see where we’re at…we love playing the game of football. We’ll figure it out if the situation presents itself.”
Does Sarkisian think the ‘Wildcat’ formation will stick around in the offense?
“The wildcat is an interesting component. I’ve never been one to major in it. It’s always been kind of a change up for us, but Roschon is very comfortable doing it. I do think that it’s something we can hold onto for our future…because he’s so comfortable at it. I would imagine moving forward it will have an integral part of our offense.”
What was the difference on defense between the first and second half?
“In the first half, they have one drive and the other one was one play…I didn’t love the effort by some of our players quite candidly. We got better at the line of attack and on the perimeter. In the second half, we were able to get off the blocks and control the line of scrimmage a little better. The perimeter game got better.”
On the effort from defensive lineman Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo
“Both guys got stingers…those aren’t fun. It’s painful, but I think it tells you that they are back in there fighting. Those guys have been steady players and obviously we want more out of every guy. That’s exciting moving forward.”
Details on injuries to Casey Thompson and Hudson Card
“Casey…it was a pretty significant thumb strain. It’s hard to grip the ball…it’s own your throwing hand. Hudson has a high-ankle sprain…I don’t think it will require surgery.”
Details of postgame conversation between Sarkisian and Texas AD Chris Del Conte
“In the end, CDC has been a great supporter of mine. I feel his support and the path we’re on, but like anything…when we were going through the losing streak. That’s heavy on him. I think it’s OK to smile…we won a football game. We only get six of these at home in DKR a year. It was a cool moment.”
How many seniors is Sarkisian expecting to stay at Texas?
“I think the safe thing to do was to walk today. I’ll meet with all of our guys individually moving forward. There’s a balancing act because I’ve got a lot of recruiting to do over the next two weeks.”
What did the team take away from Friday’s win?
“Everybody loves the thrill of victory because you love it. There’s also nothing like the agony of defeat. Sometimes you can learn a lot from defeat. I do this because I get to be a leader of men. There’s been some tough Monday mornings when we’re recapping a ball game. They deserve it…as tough as it’s been over the last couple months…to have a last ball game go like that for them…that’s awesome. I do take that in and it matters to me that they have that moment. They’ve been good to the university.”
How would you describe this season in one word?
“Rollercoaster…is that two? I don’t know. Alright guys, have a good evening.”