Steve Sarkisian lost coaching balance in Texas football loss to OU


  • Texas led 38-20 at halftime.
  • The 18-point halftime lead was the largest since a 24-6 lead in 2005.

DALLAS – All the gas and the heartache.

Steve Sarkisan learned a valuable lesson on Saturday from his first Texas-Oklahoma experience. Timing is everything and Sark lost his coaching balance in the second half against the schedule that sits between Texas and a return to national relevance.

The 55-48 loss to Oklahoma was quite a stab in the hulls because the Horns did so many good things early on.

It was a true classic for college football purists, but Longhorn Nation will look at the rest of this season through the prism of grief, disappointment and real anger if their team doesn’t get back from this soul-taker.

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Texas let Oklahoma get away with it, outright.

The first quarter looked like a Mike Tyson fight from the 1980s. You old heads remember when a 20-year-old Iron Mike dispensed grown men in record time. First-round knockouts became the norm and the question was never whether Tyson would register the knockout, just when.

Well, this time referee Richard Steele wasn’t there to count the Sooners after No.23 Texas scored 14 points in the opening 113 seconds. OU stood up from the canvas and showed true heavyweight punching power when it mattered most.

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks shows up for the winning touchdown against Texas in the fourth quarter of the Red River showdown in Dallas on Saturday.  Oklahoma won 55-48 behind Brooks' 217 yards.

“We knew that even though we came a long way, we knew they weren’t going to back down,” said Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore. “We know they wanted to beat us as much as we wanted to beat them.”

Texas ’38-20 lead at intermission was the Longhorns’ biggest third-quarter lead since the 2005 National Championship team led 24-6 en route to a 45-12 victory, but the final 20 seconds of halftime meant possible problems on the horizon. . Sark, who has preached “All Gas No Brakes” since arriving from Alabama, took his foot off the pedal after Casey Thompson connected with Worthy for 39 yards against Oklahoma’s 32.

With two timeouts in his pocket, he settled for the basket when he could have moved forward and shot into the end zone against a secondary that Thompson had shredded.

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You don’t need me to tell you that Texas is a few eons away from its 2005 level, but in the days and weeks to come, Sarkisian, who criticized the media on Monday for continuing to ask questions about the loss to Arkansas, will have to answer for the inability of his team to put away the Sooners.

He got stuck in fifth gear when he could have benefited from passing the ball to the best running back in the country with an 18-point lead. Bijan Robinson was reduced to an afterthought a week after Sarkisian hit him 35 times in the TCU defense for 216 yards. He carried the ball 11 times for 102 yards in the first half, but Sarkisian decided to air it in the last two quarters. Of course, Thompson played wonderfully, but Robinson getting just nine carries for 35 yards in the deciding half just can’t happen.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson walks past Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah during the Red River Showdown in Dallas.  Thompson threw for 388 yards and five touchdowns in the 55-48 loss.

On the other side, give Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley credit for having the courage to shoot an ineffective Spencer Rattler. Caleb Williams’ relief performances reduced Thompson’s performance from 388 yards and five touchdowns to bridesmaid status and reaffirmed the quickly fading belief that the Sooners were there for the taking. Riley also patiently stuck with the running game in the third quarter when the clock was working against his team.

Texas’ pass rush was appalling in the second half and the Sooners, to their credit, had some wonderful off-schedule plays. The defense wore down and there was no takeout against the less experienced but more elusive Williams, and no tackle from the rugged running back Kennedy Brooks, who slashed them for 217 yards, one more than Robinson. scored against TCU last week.

Kudos must go to the indomitable spirit of Thompson, who put on a big show with the freshman Xavier Worthy gap showing real star potential despite a huge fumble that saw the Sooners take the lead after stupidly returning a five meter deep kickoff in the end zone.

The fact that he was there instead of the more experienced Roschon Johnson was on the coaching staff. Worthy is a playmaker, but it was a case of trust outweighing caution.

“We have to give these guys credit,” Thompson said. “They made games when it mattered.”

For it to go away so overwhelming… it’s something the Horns will have to deal with with more football to play.

“We live for times like this,” Thompson said. “It’s college football on the biggest stage.”

There will be other times and maybe Texas will finish next time.

The word hope is dangerous because sometimes good things don’t come easily. It was a real chance to take a step forward as a program, but the Horns blinked against a battle-proven team that showed no panic when they were against the ropes early on.

Ultimately, the Horns have a quarterback who has shown he can deliver in big moments and a running back who is already NFL ready in sophomore, but Sark and Kyle Flood have work to do. with a bad offensive line and a defense that gave up to 339 yards on the ground.

The head coach will have to be better. He was spotted at 14 points and couldn’t hold back. Sarkisian has been on the sidelines of the championship, but never as a head coach. This is an excellent test at the start of his tenure in Texas. The injury he talked about after the game cannot follow them into the next two games against Oklahoma State and Baylor.

They should bounce back, but Saturday was a good indicator of the work that remains to be done.

“Our courage will be tested,” Sarkissian said. “My state of mind is that I wish I had another chance with these guys in December. “

They’re good enough to make it happen, but the post-OU depression can’t last more than a few days, or there won’t be any rematch for the Big 12 title.

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