We’re in the thick of it now, boys.
When Saturdays roll around, November will be here and with it the final month of the college football regular season.
And at least for now, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns remain in the hunt for the College Football Playoff and the Big 12 Championship.
No doubt the final month of the season will be about the team's versatility, resilience, and toughness. Especially against No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday.
“I think this game is about toughness,” Sarkisian said on Monday. “Just look back to the last two years the way those games have gone.”
That includes a 22-17 win over the Wildcats in which the Longhorns won with “half a quarterback” and a 34-27 win on the road last year against a higher-ranked team.
Here are notes from Sark’s Monday press conference:
Positives from the win over BYU: “Any time you go into a game and you can get three turnovers, you can hold your opponent to 2 of 13 on third down, you get three red zone stops and then you limit explosive plays it’s usually a pretty good day. I don’t need to watch the tape to think ‘man that defense had a really good day’ and that’s exactly what it looked like. And offensively, I thought we found a way to create some explosive plays...6 out of 11 on third down was a real positive.”
Areas to improve: “We can’t afford two turnovers every week so we got to take care of the ball and then two of five in the red zone isn’t good enough.”
Injury Update: Quinn Ewers, Ethan Burke, and Jalen Catalon remain “week-to-week”.
Kansas State is one of the “hottest teams” in the country: “I think they play well together. I think they play as a team. I think they’ve got a good scheme. They’re very aggressive. It’s hard to stay on double teams, they get you off of double teams at the line of scrimmage. Linebackers are downhill players. They’re good tacklers and then they force third and longs. I think it’s really critical in this game that we’ve got to win on first down but we’ve got to get back to play our brand of football and that’s a physical brand of football and being detail oriented and execute.”
Maalik stayed consistent after being named starter: “Any of our players should never feel like they need to change because they’re playing more. He’s developed great habits in preperation not only mentally but physically with the work that he does in the training room.”
“Maalik likes plays and I like to call the one he likes”: “Every quarterback manages the game a little bit differently than the next one. We may call the same formations and motion shifts but how they manage it and the tempo in which they goor what their comfort level is important to know.”
“Is he seeing what he wants to see and is the ball coming out the way he wants it to come out.”
“We got the finish these drives”: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t frustrated because that changes the whole complexion of the game when the score starts to go a certain way. Now you’re making a team one dimensional.
Redzone fumble a “learning lesson” for Maalik: “You know maybe in a practice setting Maalik gets that ball off because the quarterback is not live and the defender has to pull off. In person now you realize he’s going to hit me if I raise my arm up and the ball is going to come out.”
“We’re fortunate that a couple of those lessons learned we were able to bounce back from.”
Longhorns win over Alabama “the best in the country”: “Not every team out there has had to endure some of the things that we’ve had to. I’d argue that we have the best [win] in the country right now. And I hear so much about how tough the SEC is but I haven’t seen any of those teams go into Alabama and win either.”
Sark got his teams “attention” on practice Monday: “When we don’t meet the expectations and we don’t play to [our] standard, my job is to make sure we’re aware of that and then how are we goign to fix it? And sometimes you have to get their attention to do that. And so that was [Monday] and very candidly I think we got their attention. We need a really good week of pracitce.”
Big 12 stronger than “people gave credit for at the start of the year”: “A couple teams in our league lost some games that maybe they didn’t think they were going to lose. Now was the league is starting to bear itself out, we’re starting to find out our league is probably a little stronger than people gave it credit for in early September.”
What does Sark seen on film when rewatching the Redzone woes?: “You gameplan for stuff that you think you’re gonna get and sometimes you get what you think you’re gonna get and that’s when you want you execution to kick in and we just haven’t executed great. The second thing is you gameplan for something you think you’re gonna get and then you don’t get it now the playmaking has to kick in and guys have to adjust and adapt on the fly. And then the third is when you’re down there when do you run it? When do you throw it and what personnel and all those types of things but in the end, the ball has got to cross the goalline and we haven’t done a good enough job.
Anayltics or gut on 4th down?: “Yeah we have a book too but last time I checked President Hartzell and CDC didn’t hire the book, they hired Steve Sarkisian to be the head coach. So I trust my gut on a lot of stuff.”
Two-headed QB attack for Kansas State: “You get a lot of the same plays and passing concepts. Who’s the hot hand and when a guy starts getting hot, that’s who they roll with.”
Preparing for QB runs: “Every Tuesday and Wednesday we do good-on-good team run for this very reason. We’re not going to throw a pass. We’re going to line up, we’re going to runn the ball, and we have to have the ability the run the ball on offense when the defense knows we’re going to run it and we have to make sure that we have the ability to stop the run and be physical. We should be pretty dialed into the physicality that’s going to be needed the play the game.”