“The reality of it is you know that a lot has been made about that. A lot has been made about a t-shirt being made. Let’s not make this more than it is. This is about us. We’re focused on what we get to do and why we get to do it. We’re proud to be part of the University of Texas, we’re proud to represent the burnt orange, we’re proud to represent 550,000 living alumni, we’re proud to represent four national championship teams. We’re proud to get to go do that and we know who’s behind us and that’s okay — now let’s go play,” Sarkisian said.
Despite all the hoopla surrounding Yormark and everyone else’s comments, the Longhorns are playing football this weekend. Here are some notes from Sark’s Monday press conference:
On the Rice Owls: “We’ve got a veteran opponent coming to town. Rice is a team that has a great deal of experience, returning a lot of starters, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They got a quarterback who’s played with a ton of experience, he’s played twice here in his career. They’re hard-nosed. They’re tough. They’ve got very intricate schemes, so we’ve got our work cut out for us from a preparation standpoint.”
What Sark is looking for outside of winning Saturday’s game: Playing “our style of football.”
“We’ve got to play our style, which is aggressive, fast, physical, and then we’ve got to be tough and we’ve got to be smart. And so this is our first shot at putting all that together,” Sarkisian said.
Sark’s thoughts on the RB room: The current group of running backs don’t need to replicate Bijan and Roschon, instead continue to do “what they’ve been doing throughout practice.” Sark complimented Jonathan Brooks and true freshman Cedric Baxter Jr., calling the pair “smart players” and physical and elusive. Sark also said both have good receiving skills and are highly intellectual players — the latter being important for a running back in his system.
More on “embracing the hate”:
“We’ve got to embrace the hate,” Sarkisian said. “You can’t just sit back and keep taking punches and it’s just okay. At some point you have to go hunt. You have to punch back and you have to fight back and that’s what we’re imploring our veterans to do, our leaders to do, is that every time we take the field our opponent’s gonna get our best shot. We may get theirs, we may not, we can’t control that, but we need to immediately be sure that they get our best shot.”
Which QB has the No. 2 job behind Quinn Ewers? No one yet in the battle between Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning. Sark said that come Thursday, the guy who they’ve felt has earned the job will have it. Added, “both are doing well.”
With the only quarterback controversy being on the backup position and not the starting, Sark said that it has allowed him to “focus on the entirety of the team” and more on Quinn Ewers. “It’s coaching [Quinn] to be the best that he an be and not feel like sometimes that I’m pointing things out that he’s doing wrong.”
Battle for the starting right guard position: Sark said both Cole Hutson and DJ Campbell will play at right guard against Rice. Campbell appeared to have won the starting job during a strong fall camp.
“We’ve got really good playmakers on this team”: When you think of the word playmaker, the offense usually comes to mind first. While Sark did mention Xavier Worthy, JT Sanders, Jordan Whittington, and AD Mitchell, he also brought up senior linebacker Jaylan Ford and transfer safety Jalen Catalon.
“I’ve got a pretty good understanding that Jaylan Ford is going to find the football in some way, shape, or form. Now going through training camp, pretty good understanding Jalen Catalon is going to find the football.”
Mo Blackwell injury update: The special teams sensation and third-year linebacker is still expected to be out for a few weeks. Sark did mention he expects everyone else to be good to go for kick-off. With Blackwell out, expect David Gbenda and Anthony Hill to see the majority of the action at the weakside linebacker spot on Saturday.