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Texas braces for battle with Alabama: ‘We’ve got to stay present’

Notes and nuggets from Steve Sarkisian’s Monday press conference.

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Head coach Steve Sarkisian met with the media on Monday to preview this week’s top-25 match-up between the Texas Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide. While reviewing last week’s win over the Rice Owls, Sark and the Horns are trying to “stay present” with the national spotlight on Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa.

Here are a few notes from Sark’s press conference:

Inconsistency on offense: “Inconsistency early on” hurt the Texas offense from the jump. It started with an opening drive that ended on the Texas 33-yard line following a failed fourth-down conversion. Despite all of that, Sarkisian believes everything is fixable.

“We made some errors up front that were uncharacteristic for us.” Sark said the team spent Monday morning’s practice trying to “tighten things up”. Even with the inconsistencies in the running and passing games, Sark believes “the things that occurred are fixable.”

Sark thought there were moments when the run game looked “really good” but when it didn’t, he felt like it was because the team got away from their training. He wants to be able to run the ball well, but especially in situations where the other team knows they are running it.

Out of all the offensive lineman, Sark thought Christian Jones had the “cleanest” performance against Rice. “I thought the rest of the guys took turns with simple errors.” Also didn’t the like the physicality showed and wants to see it improve going forward.

“We got to cut it loose and play a brand and style of football that is ours.”

On Quinn Ewers: Believes there’s a level of confidence this year that is different. Sark saw signs of maturity with the way he responded in the second half after taking a lot of hits and sacks that weren’t his fault. Sark said the wideouts did not run great routes that made some of Ewers’ throws look errant when they weren’t.

When asked about the incompletions on deep throws, Sark said “we need to pass protect better, we need to run better routes, we need to throw it better.”

CJ Baxter injury update: The freshmen running back returned to practice on Monday after exiting Saturday’s game with a rib injury.

Key to playing Alabama: Sark said the team is going to do “what we need to do to prepare and get ourselves in the right frame of mind mentally, physically, and emotionally to play a four-quarter, hard-fought, very physical game.”

“The moment you start focusing on what the outcome could be and what the result could be, the game hits you in the mouth and you lose.”

Jalen Milroe: “Fantastic player” with a “dynamic arm” that can make every throw in the book but also a “tremendous runner.” What concerns Sark the most is that “they’re very balanced.”

What an SEC ready team looks like: a) good coaches, b) physical nature in your style of play, and c) speed on the perimeter.

Defense: Sark called it a “really good performance” after the Longhorns defense held the Owls to just 10 points. Thought the defense played faster and trusted each other more than last year and attributed that to the more experienced players being coached by the same coaches since year one.

Mentorship from Nick Saban: Sark said he became a better coach by learning from Saban both “directly or indirectly.” Asked how big mentorship is, Sark said “it’s big but only as big as the assistant wants it.”

Xavier Worthy: After leading the team in receptions and receiving yards, Sark credited it to an “awesome offseason.” “[Worthy] really recommitted himself to his regiment, to his teammates, to the program. I think the guy is having more fun now than he’s ever had here playing football, and I think he’s playing fast with energy.”