It is all change for the 2021 Texas Longhorns. Tom Herman is out as HC. His removal was the high-profile departure in the world of college football in 2020. Former Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian has replaced him. Sarkisian’s career is back on track since he came to terms with, and sought treatment for, his alcoholism. He has enjoyed immeasurable success on the offensive coaching staff in Tuscaloosa, and is now charged with bringing the good times back to Austin, Texas.
One of the great minds in college football has taken on one of the toughest gigs in all of the game. “Coach Sark” left Nick Saban’s coaching staff for a brief stint at The Atlanta Falcons in 2017, returning two years later. Now, he is leaving Saban for a second (and likely final) time. Football is a religion in Texas. Greatness is expected. Expectations haven’t been met for some time. No pressure, Coach.
This is the area of the team that should be giving Longhorns Nation sleepless nights. Texas finished 7th in total defence in 2020, giving up 406 yards and 28.5 points per game last year. New defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will have his work cut out in 2021 to turn this defensive unit around. Joseph Ossai was the key name leaving Austin for the NFL in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Keep an eye out for linebacker DeMarvion Overshown. He had an impressive stat line in 2020, and is entering his Senior year in 2021. Overshown ended the year with 60 total tackles, a sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He will be a crucial piece for the 2021 Texas Longhorns.
Sam Ehlinger, the talisman of The Longhorns in recent years, is now a backup at the Indianapolis Colts. His departure has opened up a battle at the quarterback position for the 2021 Texas Longhorns. Expect a battle throughout the summer months between Hudson Card and Casey Thompson. Thompson was Ehlinger’s backup in 2020, but the Sophomore Card will be hoping to lead the team in a new era for the 2021 Texas Longhorns.
The figurehead of the attack has to be Sophomore Running Back Bijan Robinson. Robinson had an incredible Freshman season. He finished the 2020 season with 703 rushing yards, 36% of the team’s total. Expect teammate Roschon Johnson to eat into Robinson’s carries, but between them the pair should make for a fearsome rushing tandem. Robinson is considered one of the best Running Backs in the country. He will be expected to be a premium talent in the 2023 NFL Draft.
On the offensive line, monstrous tackle Sam Cosmi was selected by the Washington Football Team in the Second Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He will be sorely missed in the trenches. Fortunately, the 2021 Texas Longhorns welcome back four starters from last year’s offensive line. The wide receiver room is looking thin after the departures of Tarik Black and Brennan Eagles.
It is clear that there won’t be a quick fix in Austin, Texas. The 2021 Texas Longhorns have a long road ahead. They open with some fixtures that Longhorn Nation will expect to comfortably win (Louisiana, @ Arkansas, Rice, Texas Tech). In October, they take on The TCU Horned Frogs. Since 2012, The Longhorns have won this rivalry game just twice in nine attempts. Their last victory at Fort Worth came in 2013. Although The Longhorns lead the all-time rivalry series comfortably (63-27-1), recent history is not on their side. Expect Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs to come out on top once more in 2021.
After that, The Longhorns face both Oklahoma teams. By their off week on October 23rd, The 2021 Texas Longhorns could be looking at 3 defeats. If that is the case, they can say goodbye to another appearance at the Big XII Championship Game.
A trip to Iowa State in November looks like an interesting matchup, before three expected victories (Kansas, @ West Virginia, Kansas State). The 2021 Texas Longhorns should finish the season strong, but it may be 2022 before we see the best of Steve Sarkisian’s program.