AUSTIN (KXAN) – Mired in the throes of a 5-7 season in 2021, Texas football saw some really tough moments. It was the first year for Longhorns Head Coach Steve Sarkisian who has worked since day one to implement a new culture with the Longhorns.
“It was kind of a struggle because a lot of players weren’t all the way bought into it like our team is now,” said Longhorns junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders about the culture in 2021. “You had 80% of the team bought in. Twenty percent not.”
Now in year three for Sanders and Sarkisian, the team has continued to note how everyone is bought in. And Texas is showing the progress on the field advancing to the Big 12 Championship Game.
For the Texas players, they see a different coach. The culture instilled doesn’t come without time spent with members of the organization.
“The interactions I would say is probably the coolest thing,” said Longhorns senior linebacker Jaylan Ford. “Just seeing how comfortable he is now versus when he first got here. It’s really from a place of love you can tell.”
The relationship between head coach and quarterback is often in the spotlight and Texas is no different. An offensive-minded coach, Sarkisian is in his second year working with Quinn Ewers.
In his first year with the Longhorns, Ewers went through a lot of struggles on the field. This season, the redshirt sophomore and his head coach have both talked about how much closer they are.
“He’s a lot easier to connect with I would say,” Ewers said. “He’s around us a whole lot more which is really cool to see. You can tell he really cares about us as people not just as players on the field.”
Sarkisian and the Longhorns will look to win the Big 12 Championship in their final year in the conference. Texas will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Oklahoma State. The Longhorns are a 14.5-point favorite over the Cowboys, according to ESPN BET.