What Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said after the win against Rice

Horns Report

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns will enter Big 12 play with some confidence after a 58-0 win over Rice Saturday at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

No matter the quality of the opponent, the Longhorns took care of business and were dominant in ever facet of the game. Something that head coach Steve Sarkisian highlighted in his postgame press conference.

The Longhorns rushed for 427 yards, racking up 44 points before halftime. The Longhorns shut out an opponent for the first time since 2017.

Bijan Robinson scored three touchdowns, but seemingly every running back on the Longhorns roster made an impact. Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson scored touchdowns on explosive plays. Freshman Jonathon Brooks scored his first touchdown of his Longhorns career.

Here’s what Sarkisian said after Saturday night’s win.

Opening statement

“First and foremost when you have to kind a big bite out of the humble pie like we did last week. We challenged the guys that we had to own it and get back to work. I thought the intent and mentality of our team all week in practice translated to the game. All four running backs when the ball well. I thought we blocked well. We challenged guys to strain and finish our blocks. I love that special teams had an impact of the game, getting the punt block early. Defensively, first shutout in five years here. All really good positive for us coming out of last week. The reality of it is…the regular season begins next week with Tech coming into town. Last week we had a bad taste in our mouth…this week is no different. We can’t relax. I think that was a lesson learned coming out of the Louisiana game.”

Sarkisian on entire team’s performance

“I wanted to try and touch all three phases really. When you watched it, I thought there was really good execution offensively. We had a couple breakdowns in protection that we need to get cleaned up. I thought Xavier Worthy showed up. I thought we were able to get off the field on third down. We had a couple of punt returns that we’re close to getting out and then Cameron Dicker was fantastic…they didn’t have any returns. A lot of guys got to play and those are good building blocks moving forward.”

What did you learn about your team in the non-conference?

“When our guys are challenged, they really rise to the challenge and that’s a quality I’ve mentioned before. I hate to harp on the loss because we’ve had two really good wins. We’ve got a team that has a lot of grit and a lot of perseverance. It would be easy to come out of the game wondering if…this was the right scheme, are these the right coaches? We all sat together and said we have to be better. They responded and I think that’s a great trait to have. That’s probably the biggest thing I know of our team right now. We’ve got work to do. We weren’t perfect. I think moving forward let’s hold on to the things we have and be able to apply those things in the game.”

Has Sarkisian been watching other Big 12 games?

“I know a couple of teams won some tight ones today. Everybody plays a physical brand of football. I don’t believe this is the Big 12 of old. When we start to dig in to opponents each week, we’ll have a better idea.”

How do you get this team to handle success the right way?

“You’ve got to attack it head on. I didn’t mince my words with them. This was another challenge for us. The challenge for us last week was to get off the mat. This week, it’s different. OK, we played to a standard now how do we play to the standard. It’s going to take the leadership of the team to lock back in to play to the standard we’re capable of playing in.”

Thoughts on passing game

“We were efficient. I think we were relatively efficient. It was kind of the way the game went because the run game was so explosive. Again, we just missed a couple of opportunities down the field that we didn’t hit. We had a nice third down conversion to Kelvontay Dixon…I think all of those things showed that we are moving in the right direction. Ideally, I don’t know if we’re going to rush for 430 yards every night so we’re going to need the pass game to be there.”

On Xavier Worthy’s performance

“He’s not the biggest guy but he has some physicality about him. He dropped his shoulder and finished the run. That’s a trait we try to preach here — contact courage — and he showed that tonight.”

On offensive line’s performance against Rice

“I thought the offensive line did respond. He was on them this week. We just weren’t going to let the little things slide. It was about did you do your job exactly as it was supposed to be done. I do believe in both aspects…we tried to get the ball a little more in space. I think we had success there but ultimately the interior runs were there as well.”

On Keilan Robinson’s day

“He’s been fantastic on special teams all year. He’s been a great addition for us. He just has the right mentality. He was like a rocket ship on the touchdown run. Not the biggest guy but plays really hard. To see some of the smaller guys playing that way, I think that should give you an idea of how we want to play.”

On decision to bring Hudson Card in the game in the third quarter

“We wanted to make sure Hudson got in the game where he could play some real football and he did a nice job. The way the clock was going…I really wish I would’ve gotten Charlie Wright in the game and Ben Ballard. I wasn’t able to get those guys in so hopefully there’s another opportunity where I can get those guys in.”

Will Casey Thompson will be the starter against Texas Tech?

“There’s something about him when he gets in the game. The ball moves down the field. I give him a lot of credit…just his intent to prepare. We’ll reassess all of that in the morning. I’d imagine Casey will lead the charge against Tech but Card will get his chance.”

Evaluating players getting their chance in the second half

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jonathon Brooks…he was a guy who wasn’t available for us in the first game against Louisiana. To watch him run, that was good to see. Really, that second offensive line did a nice job. That whole group I thought went in and blocked well. They did their jobs but really on both sides a lot of guys played. It was great to see. A lot of linebackers played in this game. I’m leaving guys out but the bottom line is a lot of guys played…the opportunity these guys got…it’s going to warrant more time in games.”

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