MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Year one of the Steve Sarkisian era isn’t going as smoothly as Texas Longhorns fans would have liked.
Texas (4-6, 2-4 Big 12) enters Saturday’s matchup against West Virginia (4-6, 2-4 Big 12) riding a five-game losing streak, and coming off a one-point overtime loss against the Kansas Jayhawks.
To add insult to defeat, there was a major injury.
Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson will miss the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. That means Texas will be without one of the top rushers in the Big 12 come Saturday.
“We want him to get healthy and get himself back, because I think he’s primed for a big time junior season,” said Sarkisian said during his weekly press conference on Monday.
Robinson was also second on the team in receptions, and had accounted for more than 1,300 yards between the running and passing game, prior to his injury.
Sarkisian’s Longhorns offense is second in the Big 12 in points per game (37.8), and second in rushing yards per contest (197.9). But the defense is one of the worst in the country at stopping the run, giving up more than 200 yards per game on the ground.
“It’s been frustrating for everybody,” Sarkisian said of the defense. “We’re still in the phase of we’re trying to keep getting things taught, and we try to practice the look that we think we’re going to get.”
He added: “There’s a little bit of hesitation on our part. I’ll be honest with you, we’re hesitating, and not fitting things the way we’re capable of fitting them.”
Neither team has done a great job this year at protecting the quarterback. West Virginia has given up the most sacks among Big 12 teams this year, and Texas ranks ninth in the league in sacks allowed.
“I think at the end of the day, football is won up front,” Sarkisian said. “This is still an in the trenches game, and when you win the line of scrimmage, you bolster your chances of winning football games.”
One offensive surprise for the Longhorns this year has been freshman wideout Xavier Worthy. Worthy leads the way with 49 receptions for 831 yards this year. He’s been the top target for junior quarterback, Casey Thompson.
Like the Mountaineers, two quarterbacks have seen time at the position this year for UT.
Thompson has been the regular starter, but did come out after two series last week against the Jayhawks. He later returned to the game.
“[Thompson] is kind of a microcosm of the entire roster. It’s about consistency, and about playing with consistency at whatever our role is on our football team,” Sarkisian said.
The other quarterback that could see time on Saturday is redshirt freshman Hudson Card. Thompson is the more athletic of the two.
Defensively, DeMarvion Overshown leads the Longhorn in total tackles and tackles for loss, and is tied for the team leads in sacks.
Texas has committed 11 turnovers during its five-game losing skid, including six fumbles.
Catch the full interview with Roger Wallace from KXAN-TV for more on the Longhorns on Saturday’s live edition of Mountaineer GameDay, airing at 10 a.m. ET on West Virginia Nexstar stations and 11 a.m. ET on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.