Five way-too-early predictions for Texas football in 2022
The first snap of the season is still over 200 days away, but it is never too early to make bold predictions when it comes to Texas.
The expectations are already emerging from the cracks, as 247Sports declared Texas as a team that has the chance to crash the playoffs.
While this team still has so many questions and answers that will resolve themselves, there are a few certainties going into the season. With the most glaring being the fact that Steve Sarkisian and his staff need to make major improvements after going 5-7 in the first season of the “all gas no brakes” era.
Sarkisian was able to bring in the No. 5 recruiting class while also adding a very talented group of transfers, with all but one of them having significant playing time. The lone transfer without experience is expected quarterback prodigy Quinn Ewers, who enrolled at Ohio State a year early with the highest ranking in recruiting history that just a handful of other players have achieved.
Needles to say, there is growing expectations from the fan base and the media that Texas will finally turn it around next season.
Here are my five bold and way-too-early predictions for 2022.
Texas will have someone amass five sacks
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The pass rush at Texas has been nonexistent, and if you subtract Joseph Ossai from the equation you would have to go back all the way to 2018 to find a Texas team with someone over five sacks on the season. The Longhorns sack leader last season was Ben Davis who accumulated 2.5 on the year, which is not great by any means.
The Longhorns addressed their pass rush issues in the 2022 class bringing in eight defensive linemen from the high school ranks. Whether one of the freshmen is the guy that hits the mark, or maybe a transfer from the portal is the one that reaches it, Texas badly needs someone to step up as a feared pass rusher.
Texas upsets Alabama
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At one point Nick Saban had never lost to a former assistant, but both Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart were able to end that impressive streak last season. This game could be Steve Sarkisian’s coming out party as a head coach, and really has the chance to impact the season in a positive way should Texas beat them.
In order for Texas to beat Alabama they will need four things to happen before or during Week 1. The Longhorns need a certainty at the quarterback position, the defense to have a huge game and force a mistake or two, a competent offensive line performance to prevent Will Anderson from having a field day, and some luck. This is a big ask of a team that will have new starters all over the field, but in order to compete with the powerhouses, why not knock off the biggest of them all. This offseason for Texas is as important as they come.
Bijan Robinson is a Heisman finalist
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This is bold in the sense that the Heisman is essentially a quarterback award most of the time outside of DeVonta Smith who won it a couple years ago. It takes a real special season from a running back to outshine quarterbacks who are throwing for over 300 yards a game, just ask Kenneth Walker.
Robinson had some buzz early on in the season before Texas utterly collapsed in six straight games, and with an improved offensive line along with a better passing game to take all the attention off him, this could be a career year for Robinson. He has the talent to rush for close to 2,000 yards, he will just need some help from his teammates and some good health. The better he does, the better the team will be.
Quinn Ewers beats out Hudson Card outright
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There is a two-horse race for the starting quarterback job going into the season, and surely Sarkisian has learned from last year’s debacle how important it is to have one quarterback and not two. Even with Todd Dodge, the father of Ewers high school coach, warning Texas against starting him too early, you have to think that having some college experience at Ohio State helps a little. Obviously he just handed the ball off a couple times, but in practices he was likely able to get a sense and feel of the college game.
Beating out Card will be no cakewalk for Ewers, but in the end I think Ewers will show some flashes of why he earned the highest rating ever as a recruit. This is Card’s job to lose, but Sarkisian will likely want to pick someone and it was obvious he didn’t trust Card at all last season as he was eager to put in Casey Thompson.
Texas makes the Big 12 Championship game
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While it is unlikely they will be playoff contenders this fast, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for them to make the conference championship. Look at Baylor, a team that finished at the bottom of the barrel the year prior, but was able to win the conference this season.
This season provides Texas what could be their best opportunity to do so in years, as we don’t know how good Oklahoma will be with all the changes, Oklahoma State lost some major defensive pieces, and Baylor might have peaked. The Longhorns lost against these teams by an average of seven points last season, while leading in all three matchups by double digits at one point. If Texas can replicate the part where they got a lead, and actually hold onto those leads it’s a whole different season. The Longhorns have a great chance to bounce back from 5-7, and work their way to one of the top couple spots in the conference. There will likely continue to be parody in the Big 12 until someone claims it again.