Steve Sarkisian: Too early to mention Bama

Austin American-Statesman
Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian takes his 11th-ranked Longhorns into their season opener on Saturday against Rice. The Longhorns are heavy favorites.
Takeaways from Texas coach Steve Sarkisian's first game-week Monday press conference:
Is it too early to talk about Bama?
The answer: Yes, it is. At least for Sarkisian.
One of the first questions he fielded was whether anything Rice will bring to the table on Saturday will help the Longhorns prepare for next week's showdown in Tuscaloosa. Sark didn't bite.
"I don't know ... I don't know," he answered. "They've got great schemes, coach (Mike) Bloomgren and his staff do a tremendous job on all three phases. They are going to attack you, exploit the weaknesses like any great coaching staff would."
Translation: Nah, not really. Texas is favored to beat the Owls by five touchdowns.
(And it's not too early for us to talk about Alabama. That'll be a 6 p.m. game next Saturday on ESPN. The Tide, who narrowly escaped from Austin last year with a 20-19 win, are favored by 7 points right now.)
Sark responds to Yormark
Probably the best question of the day came from KXAN sports anchor Roger Wallace: "You talked about embracing the hate. Ever think that would include comments from your own commissioner?
Big 12 boss Brett Yormark made headlines last week while speaking at a Texas Tech football event in Lubbock, when he urged Red Raiders coach Joey McGure to "take care of business" against Texas the day after Thanksgiving the way Tech did last year, beating Texas in overtime.
Sarkisian responded with his first comments since Yormark's remarks.
"Jokingly aside — but not — you know, I got a letter from the commissioner about sportsmanship the day before that speech, so I'm trying to figure out what are we promoting to our student-athletes and then go say those types of things," he said. "I'm guessing he's not going to have his Thanksgiving dinner with us the night before that game.
"But the reality is, a lot's been made about that ... let's not make more than what it is. This is about us. We're focused on what we get to do, and we're proud to be part of the University of Texas, we're proud to represent the burnt orange and white, we're proud to represent 550,000 living alumni, and 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 OK. Now let's go play."
No depth chart — yet
In years past, Texas would wait until this first Monday of the season to release its two-deep. Not today.
Now we're expecting that first depth chart to arrive on Thursday, the same day Sarkisian said the call will be made on key roster decisions, including backup quarterback, running back, edge rusher, linebacker and cornerback. But he did give us some insight into where things stand now:
∙ QBs Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning: "They're both doing well, so who we feel like come Thursday is the guy that's earned that opportunity to be backup this week, that'll be who the backup is."
∙ RBs Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter: "We've got a lot of information to take in here over the first few ballgames or so."
∙ CBs (besides Ryan Watts, who's locked in as one starter): "We've got four corners who we feel comfortable with in Ryan and Gavin (Holmes, a Wake Forest transfer) and Malik (Muhammad, a freshman from DeSoto) and Terrance (Brooks, a sophomore), so for them to show us throughout the week that they're ready to go and who's ready to play, then we can make those tough calls later in the week."
∙ Sarkisian also said that both Cole Hutson and DJ Campbell would see playing time at right guard.
There was only one piece of injury news to report: Linebacker Morice Blackwell will miss "a couple of weeks," Sarkisian said. Everybody else will be available Saturday. ... Today's presser started more than 15 minutes later than it was scheduled; Sarkisian headed over for it right after morning practice. ... Some single-game tickets for Saturday remain. ... The 1963 national championship team will be honored at Saturday's game. Former UT coach David McWilliams, who was the center for that team, will present the coin for the opening toss.
Saturday's opener kicks off at 2:30 p.m. at DKR. The Longhorns are 35-point favorites. The last time they played, Texas won 58-0 in 2021. Texas has a 97.1% chance of winning on ESPN's matchup predictor.
Texas is 111-16-3 all-time in home openers, 107-20-3 all-time in season openers and is 74-21-1 in the series against Rice, including their last 15 matchups.

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