On Friday evening, the Texas Longhorns went through the first preseason practice under new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who cited “drastic improvements in a lot of areas” as a significant development for his team.
But even though temperatures in the Austin area were depressed by showers throughout the day, the team still experienced significant cramping issues — Sarkisian noted that it wasn’t an issue of physical conditioning, it was an issue of hydration, something Sarkisian said the staff will monitor more closely moving forward.
Cue the pee chart’s return to Texas football discourse.
Sounds like there were some bad guys on the practice fields on Friday.
To fully keep score here, Sarkisian has now checked off “winning is hard,” “there’s no fairy dust,” and “hydration is important” on the Tom Herman coach-speak bingo card. All in his last several media appearances.
Setting aside the snark here, Sarkisian did provide some substantive impressions of his team.
— Junior wide receiver Joshua Moore, sophomore safety Jerrin Thompson, junior tight end Jared Wiley, and senior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown were all singled out by Sarkisian as players who have undergone the most significant physical transformations during the offseason. Overshown hasn’t gained as much weight as he wanted following offseason shoulder surgery, but it is positive to hear that the lifting he was able to do made a difference for him physically.
— Freshman tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders spent part of practice working individually with position coach Jeff Banks, a development that Sarkisian said was a result of the type of adjustments the staff makes to get individual players up to speed. Because Sanders wasn’t an early enrollee, it was his first time to put on a Texas uniform and practice.
— Among the players who impressed Sarkisian on the field, specifically transfers or summer enrollees, the Texas head coach had positive things to say about an athletic and physical Ovie Oghoufo, the Notre Dame edge transfer, Alabama transfer running back Keilan Robinson looking good in space, and former Michigan wide receiver signee Xavier Worthy flashing. Sanders was a standout as well, in addition to defensive tackle Bryon Murphy and edge Barryn Sorrell.
— There weren’t any significant position changes to report, but Sarkisian did say that Thompson and fellow safety Brenden Schooler, the transfer who played wide receiver last season, are working in at nickel to find the best fits there.
— Along the offensive line, Sarkisian raved about the leadership ability of Derek Kerstetter. But are there any limitations because of the injury that ended his senior season? Sarkisian dodged that question a bit, saying he wanted to watch the film first. Junior left tackle Christian Jones, who lost some weight since the spring, was having a good practice before he suffered from some cramping issues. Redshirt freshman tackle Andrej Karic drew praise for his physicality, toughness, and love for football. For sophomore Isaiah Hookfin, one of the best athletes along the offensive line whose shoulder injury derailed his 2020 season, it’s all about gaining experience and understanding of the game.
— The most important position battle is at quarterback and Sarkisian said that junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card both improved during the summer. If Frieday’s practice was considered the 16h spring practice, Sarkisian said it would have rated as their best as both players rotated with the first and second teams.
— Entering preseason camp with a new coaching staff, retention is always a key metric for evaluation, but Sarkisian noted that he wants to give players until the first scrimmage in eight days, which will be the second practice in full pads, to really come to any conclusions about retention aside from egregious mistakes.