Eight games into his career as the head coach at Texas, Steve Sarkisian didn’t expect to be 4-4 and understands fans’ frustrations. But, he said on Thursday, he doesn’t think the Texas job is harder than he expected.
“I knew what I signed up for,” said Sarkisian, who was 46-35 in two previous head-coaching jobs, at Washington and USC, between 2009 and 2015. “I think that’s something, having had previous head-coach experience at a couple of other pretty high-profile universities, you understand the expectation, you understand the challenge, you understand the arena that you’re in and then you can be a little bit more comfortable in the arena of what those expectations are.”
At Big 12 media day in July, Sarkisian was optimistic about where his Longhorns stood, saying, “We’ve got a roster that is one that is more than capable of being competitive at a high level” and that they were in a “little better position” because they had lost three games last season by a total of 13 points.
Over the past three games, however, Texas became the first team to blow 10-point leads in the second half three straight times since Kansas in 2006 and was outscored 55-10 in the fourth quarter in losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. A big reason why: Texas ranks 105th nationally in total defense, allowing 432.4 yards per game, and the run defense, which allows 205 yards per game, is 118th.
“I also recognize the level of frustration without us winning a couple of these close ballgames, but I can assure you that nobody’s more frustrated than we are,” Sarkisian said Thursday. “Nobody’s more frustrated than our players are. And that frustration comes from we know how close we are as well.”
Since 1957, Texas has lost four straight games during a season only three times, in 2010, 1997 and 1988. Iowa State is favored at home on Saturday against the Longhorns for just the second time in the 18-game history between the two teams. The Cyclones have won the past two games, 23-20 last season in Austin and 23-21 in 2019 in Ames.
Sarkisian said he believes the Longhorns have been close and aren’t far from a breakthrough.
“We may not be getting the result we want right now,” he said. “But our guys show up every Saturday and they perform. Now we need to execute better, especially those critical moments late in the ballgame. But I’m not going to discount the fact that we come out prepared and ready to go every Saturday afternoon.”