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Updates on Agiye Hall, Jamier Johnson, Ryan Watts, and other news from Steve Sarkisian's Thursday Zoom

Joe Cook10/20/22
Article written by:On3 imageJoe Cook

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Agiye Hall (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

At his typical Thursday Zoom, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian provided a few redshirt and injury updates, plus his thoughts on this week’s game, Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders, and more.

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Steve Sarkisian: “I think first and foremost, this is a great opportunity for our team to go on the road against a really good opponent in a great environment for college football. Obviously, this game is impactful from a Big 12 standings perspective, but I think also for our team in this is an opportunity for us to finish out the first two-thirds of our season in week No. 8 before we get to the bye. I thought the guys had really good intent this week in practice. They’re focused on the task at hand. We know it’s going to take a really good effort. This is a very good football team we’re playing in all three phases.”

Steve Sarkisian: “I think Coach (Brennan) Marion relates really well with the guys. I say that in a way that one, I think they do have a lot of fun. They love the game of football and you can see it with Jordan (Whittington). You can see it with all these guys. They have fun playing, but if you really watch Coach Marion coach, he’s extremely demanding. He’s demanding of them fundamentally. He’s demanding of them scheme wise. He’s demanding of them off the field, whether it’s school, whatever that is. I think that’s the balance we all strive for as coaches. We want to have a good relationship with players, but the intent is not to be our player’s friend. The intent is to be their coach, to push them to new heights, to push them to be the best that they can be whether it’s as a player, as a person, or as a student. I think Coach Marion has found a really cool niche in his own way of doing that and I think the players respond to him.”

Steve Sarkisian: “I think the guys understand where this game sits. We’re playing a really good opponent. I think they’re dialed into what the key components to the game will be, and how to do it. I always do kind of a pop quiz on Thursday, and I loved the responses I was getting. They were getting into the details of the plan, and they came out with really good energy all week. I thought our energy was tremendous this week, especially in comparison to kind of the last couple of weeks. I thought this week, our energy was really good. You can kind of feel the guys on the field.”

Steve Sarkisian: “The biggest thing we (as a staff) try to do is stay routine oriented. We try not to waver from one week to the next based on the opponent or based on what allegedly the importance of the next game is. We’ve got a routine. We’ve got a routine that takes us through Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, to staff meeting Saturday morning. I’m a routine oriented guy and so our staff operates that way. When we stick to our routine and start to build a game plan in all three phases, that usually keeps everybody on the same page. That takes a lot of communication. It takes a lot of working together, but ultimately what we do is definitely routine based.”

Steve Sarkisian: “I think college football has done a really good job of trying to make our game safer than what it was and continue to make it safe. We’ve instituted some different practice habits and rules in the way we practice, whether it’s number of consecutive padded practices or specific drills that we can or cannot do. Clearly, I think they’ve done a nice job of implementing different rules in game of what you can and cannot do. I’m not just talking about head injuries. Crackback blocks, cut blocking, different things of that nature that are trying to prevent injuries. I think it’s constant in teaching the players how to do what the rule are allowing you to do. That’s something that we have to assume that responsibility, to make sure we put our players in the best position to execute and play within the guidelines of the rules, but also from a team perspective because those are some pretty hefty fouls.” — “I do think it’s for the betterment for our game. We’ve got a beautiful game, and none of us want our game to go away in such a manner of, ‘man, what happened to football?’ It is still a contact sport. It is still a physical sport. There are ways to make it safe, and I think whether it’s the NFL, college football, high school football, I think we’re constantly working at that and looking at ways to implement things that will continue to keep our game safe yet allow the game to flourish and grow.”

Steve Sarkisian: “I think the dual-threat quarterback thing, I think it’s challenging for everybody. I think that’s why they’re so effective when they’re really good at it. Spencer, obviously, has played a lot of football and is a great competitor. I think they do a really nice job with him. They’ve kind of evolved back to the Oklahoma State of past years where they’re throwing it more and they’re a little more spread out. What that allows is when they spread you out, that creates opportunities for the quarterback to run the ball, not designed, but on scrambles. ” — “I think what makes Spencer unique is the competitive nature that he has. The guy is very tough. He takes hits. He gets back up. He definitely leads that team, so the challenge for us is to be disciplined when it is the designed runs, who is fitting what gaps, and when we’re rushing him to make sure that our rush lanes are really good.”

Steve Sarkisian: “As far as Agiye (Hall) goes, obviously it’s been a bit of a journey since he’s been here. He’s had some ups and had some downs. At this moment in time, if we can preserve his redshirt I think that would be in the best interest of him and the best interest of us.”

Steve Sarkisian: “I think our team, our players, our coaches, it’s natural that most quarterbacks are the ones that are the head of the snake. (Quinn Ewers) has got that about him. I think being with him more now and being on the sideline with him and watching him overcome adversity, it’s something I’ve been very impressed with him going back to the first game against Monroe. First third down, he throws an interception, he comes right back and plays good football for us. I’m learning him more, which is part of the process, but I do think he’s got a calm demeanor about him that he really just goes and plays the next play, and he doesn’t harbor things that occurred before good or bad. He just plays in the moment, and that’s a great thing to have at the quarterback position.”

Steve Sarkisian: “Yes, (Jamier Johnson and Ryan Watts) are both available.”

Steve Sarkisian: “We’re going to keep bringing Charles (Wright) and Maalik (Murphy). I’ve been impressed with Maalik. He’s really starting to get healthy, and I just think this is great experience for him. He’s really growing into his own. I’ve been proud of him of working the way that he has. The majority of his work is coming on scout team, and he’s given an awesome look to our defense. I just think the experience that he’s getting, a lot of that is obviously predicated on different position groups and what we need at each position group going on the road. The opportunity to bring four is I think beneficial for us, not only in the short term but in the long term.”