Players-only meeting, QB notes, WVU and more from Steve Sarkisian's Thursday Zoom

Joe Cook09/29/22
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Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian held his regular Thursday Zoom call this morning. Here are a handful of updates from his virtual meeting with the media.

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Opening statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody in Florida dealing with Hurricane Ian. Obviously, very devastating. Everybody gets affected by this, so hopefully people can get safe and get evacuated and protect themselves because it looks very dangerous. Definitely thoughts and prayers from there.”

On this week: “We’ve had a really good week of work. As we’ve reminded ourselves, we obviously always want to play better and we know we can play better, but it is a little unfortunate we’ve had a couple of heartbreaking losses here two of the last three games with field goals at the end, one at the end of the game against Bama and obviously the overtime loss there at Tech last week. I think the noise around our team is the sky is falling, and ‘what happened to Texas,’ and ‘we’re not very good.’ We’re still a pretty good team, things just didn’t quite go the way we wanted them to go. We didn’t play quite the way we expect to play, but we could all be sitting here at 4-0 acting like it’s sunshine and rosy out, and we’d still be wanting to work on things to get better. I credit our team a lot for putting in the work this week and coming back to work with a real sense of intent and a real sense of motivation knowing that this is a really big ballgame to get on the board in Big 12 play, to get to 1-1, against a really good opponent.”

On leadership this week: “What I was proud of with those guys was coming out of the ballgame last week, Monday they had a leadership council meeting. Then Tuesday morning, they had a player-only meeting where the leadership committee addressed some of the things that I talked about where we can improve. I thought that was a great sign they were willing to take that initiative and do that.”

On Quinn Ewers: “I think there’s no doubt Quinn wants to play. He’s wanted to play since he first got injured at Alabama. He wanted to go back in the game. Mentally, he’s a highly competitive young man. He’s worked at trying to get himself healthy. He’s been throwing for about 2.5 weeks and has gradually improved. There’s a safety element to this thing. We want to make sure that we’re doing what’s in the best interest of Quinn, but also our team. He’s champing at the bit. He’s working hard. I like the progression he’s been making. With all that, I think he’s in the right mental state of mind of wanting to get back out there, staying engaged, and doing the things necessary that we’re asking him to do.”

Is Quinn Ewers starting?: “Valid question, I understand. I’m not going to tell you.”

On if there’s a sense of urgency at practice: “Yes, I do feel real sense of urgency. I think coming out of that meeting Monday, the players-only meeting on Tuesday, I feel the sense of urgency. Not just from our frontline starters, I feel it from everybody across the board. Our scout team players have given a great look this week. It’s been physical. Everybody is pushing toward a common goal, which is playing better football, which is ultimately coming out victorious. But you have to do the things necessary throughout the week to put yourself in position to do that. It’s been an all hands on deck approach, and I’m very appreciative of all the guys and the work they’ve put in this week.”

On Agiye Hall: “I think naturally, when you’re not around the program for some time, it takes a minute to get your football legs back under you and your football mind back under you. It’s been a bit of a gradual progression to work him back in. I think it was good for him last week to get some quality reps in a tight game. Had a catch. He’s making the right steps to put himself in a position to be a real contributor on our offense, and I do think he’ll have a role here Saturday as we go into the ballgame.”

Agiye Hall (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

On Ishmael Ibraheem and how he addresses those situations: “A couple of things. Any time you’re dealing with women, that strikes a chord with me, with our university, and I think with the general public. We want to make sure we do our due diligence with any player that has anything as it pertains to women. I think there’s varying offenses in that, is this a first offense? Is this a second offense? How many times has a guy potentially been in trouble? Just like we do on all things, we try to let these things run their course a little bit. We have to let an investigation occur. We have to let the school do their due diligence on it. We do our due diligence. Authorities do their due diligence, then we get to a common ground. With the suspension, the goal for Ishmael is that he continues to do his schoolwork, that he handles that aspect of his life, handles this aspect of his life, and then let it run its course. That would be no different than any other player. Again, it varies based off of history as well. Has the player been in trouble in the past, whether it’s legally or internally with us? That starts to direct us in the suspension and potentially lifting of suspensions.”

On reminding the team the sky hasn’t fallen: “I think that’s always the challenge. As athletes, the mental side of the game is probably as much or more important than the physical aspect of the game. We should have a lot of confidence in our ability to play good football, whether that’s on offense, defense, or special teams. I think we’ve got a style of football that we take a lot of pride in. I don’t think that we played up to that standard last weekend, and even at that we had an opportunity to go win that game.”

On West Virginia: “I think what they pose is a balanced attack. They’ve got a scheme that can change tempos. They can go fast, they can slow it down. They’ve got two very capable running backs… They run the ball, so it’s not just that they present good backs, they’ll run the backs so you have to defend the run. Then they’ve got two really big, physical wide receivers on the perimeter that can pose problems in 1-on-1 matchups in that they can go up and get the ball 1-on-1, they can make people miss, they’re hard to get on the ground. They tax you from a balance standpoint, then they’ve got a quarterback who can make all the throws.”

On preparation tweaks: “We’ve got to get off the field defensively, so I think we put some extra time into third down and fourth down defense to make sure we can get off the field, so we don’t let them extend their drives. We put in extra times on us on third down to make sure we’re extending our own drives.”