September 26, 2023

Steve Sarkisian unfazed about Texas being picked to conquer Big 12

Texas Longhorns Football

Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian prepares to run out onto the field with his players before game against Kansas State Saturday November 5, 2022 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

ARLINGTON, Texas — There’s no denying several eyebrows were raised when the Big 12 released its’ 2023 preseason media poll last week.

That’s because Texas was picked to win the conference, and even received 41 first-place votes. The ranking was a head-scratcher to many fans across the league. After all, the Longhorns haven’t won a Big 12 Title since 2009. Regardless, Steve Sarkisian feels his team is deserving of all the preseason love, but that doesn’t mean Texas is officially back.

The third-year coach expressed his feelings regarding the matter as he took the podium at Media Days Wednesday afternoon. In his mind the Longhorns are exactly where they need to be. And that’s what comes with the territory at a traditional blue-blood program.

“What I do know is I chose to be the head coach of the University of Texas, and our players chose to come to the University of Texas,” Sarkisian said. “With that comes the responsibility and expectations, so we don’t shy away from that, we accept it, and we have to acknowledge it.”

The bullseye on his team is bigger than ever now. It’s no mystery that the rest of the Big 12 would like nothing more than to send the Longhorns off to the SEC on a sour note. Which is why Sarkisian welcomes the competition.

And that’s saying a lot, considering Texas is coming off an 8-5 campaign, and lost its’ top-two rushers. However, Sarkisian recruits like a monster, and the Longhorn brand lures in prospects from across the nation. No doubt Sarkisian will be operating with the best talent in the conference.

However, his biggest challenge will be making sure Texas doesn’t underachieve this time around. The players are embracing being the hunted, so they won’t be backing down from any challenge.

“Expectations are just that, and what will ultimately define us is how we play on Saturdays, and that’s what we got to focus on, he said.”

Everything appears to be trending up for Sarkisian. Former five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers has plenty of weapons around him to operate with in year two as the starter. Not to mention the defense contains one of the best players in the country in linebacker Jaylan Ford.

There’ll be pressure put on Sarkisian and his coaching staff to deliver the goods. Still, it’s going to take all parties involved to get to the Longhorns to the promised land. That means leaders have to emerge, and everyone must be on the same page.

“I think that’s their focus, and that in turn permeates throughout our locker room,” the 49-year old coach said. “There’s no personal initiatives involved, it’s about the team and the team trying to go win a championship, and that’s what our focus is.”

Sarkisian definitely wants to change the narrative on how his team closes down the stretch. All eyes will be on the Longhorns as they navigate through the Big 12 meat grinder this fall. The fans in burnt orange and white been waiting for the program to put together something special. As of now it seems like Sarkisian and his squad are on the clock.