AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has yet to settle on a starting quarterback to play against Kansas and coach Steve Sarkisian still does not know if three of his top players will be available to try to end a four-game skid.
One thing he is certain of: He liked the passion in the expletive-laden rant assistant coach Bo Davis unleashed on the struggling Longhorns following last week’s loss at Iowa State. A video of the episode was posted online during the week.
“You could hear the passion in Bo’s voice. We really believe in the staff that we hired and what we came here to do and I think you could feel the passion and the want to get it done,” Sarkisian said Thursday. “I think Bo exemplifies that.”
Sarkisian said he wished the unidentified player who leaked the video hadn’t done it, but that it would be dealt with internally.
“The disturbing part is that (Davis) felt like he needed to say that, and then ultimately the video go out,” Sarkisian said.
The bigger immediate problem is avoiding the first five-game skid since 1956. Texas started the season ranked and was 4-1 in early October.
“There’s never been a great triumph without struggle,” Sarkisian said. “We’re in the midst of a struggle. To have a growth, sometimes you gotta have a little bit of conflict too. And we’ve had some conflict this week.”
After four straight bowl wins under his predecessor Tom Herman, Texas now must win two of its last three games just to get to the postseason. There was no talk of “struggle” when Sarkisian landed in Austin with a motto of “All Gas, No Brakes” that was going to turbocharge a program waiting to take off.
Sarkisian said he will decide Friday whether to stick with starting quarterback Casey Thompson against Kansas (1-8, 0-6) or return to Hudson Card, who started the first two games of the season and relieved Thompson against Iowa State. Texas had just 11 first down and 207 total yards against the Cyclones.
Star running back Bijan Robinson also was banged up against Iowa State and his top backup, Roschon Johnson, has struggled with turf toe the last few weeks. Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, the Longhorns’ best playmaker on defense, will also be a game-day decision.
Texas is still heavily favored to win. Kansas won its first game against South Dakota, then lost eight in a row. The Jayhawks nearly upset No. 4 Oklahoma at home, but the offense has been held to 10 points or less four times.
Texas wide receiver Joshua Moore left the team to enter the transfer portal this week. He’d been overtaken by freshman Xavier Worthy as the Longhorns’ top pass catcher, but his departure means Worthy is now the only Texas wideout with more than 11 catches this season.
If Robinson and Johnson can’t play or are limited, that could open the Texas backfield for speedy Alabama transfer Keilon Robinson. He spelled Robinson late against Iowa State with his big highlight this season was a 65-yard touchdown run against Rice. Kansas ranks 128th nationally against the run, allowing 250 yards per game.
Kansas has its own questions at quarterback and whether regular starter Jason Bean will be available. Coach Lance Leipold said this week Bean was questionable to play after he was shaken up last week against Kansas State. That could put the offense in the hands of Jalon Daniels, who started six games in 2020. Bean has passed for 1,252 yards and also is Kansas’ second-leading rusher with 399 yards.
The Jayhawks are struggling badly on offense but the line is protecting the quarterback. Since allowing six sacks in the second game against Coastal Carolina, Kansas has allowed just four over the next seven games and ranks second in the Big 12 in sacks surrendered.
SECOND HALF COLLAPSE
Texas has led at halftime in each of the four consecutive losses, and held double digit leads late in the third quarter in the first three. Texas has been outscored 102-27 after halftime in their four straight losses.
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