Texas football superlatives halfway through Steve Sarkisian’s first season

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After losing the Red River Shootout, Texas is officially halfway through the first season under Steve Sarkisian. There have been some ups and downs with a 4-2 record. So far, the games that should have been won have been wins, but a lack of a defining victory still eludes Sarkisian.

A flip flop of quarterbacks has occurred as well. With Hudson Card starting against Louisiana, then Casey Thompson taking over after the fiasco at Arkansas and has not looked back since.

Even though college football is a what have you done for me lately type of business (lose to Oklahoma), a total rewind of the season shows Sarkisian has done a good job changing the culture of the program. No reason to believe Texas is set up for anything but a successful last six games.

To reflect, Longhorns Wire has created a superlatives list for the first half of the season. Here are the categories:

  • Offensive MVP

  • Defensive MVP

  • Best coaching hire

  • Surprise player

  • Newcomer of the Year

  • Underwhelming player

  • Best moment

  • Worst moment

  • Second half predictions

Here is each staff member’s selections and explanations.

Offensive MVP

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Cami Griffin: Bijan Robinson. Through six weeks of the season, he’s made a strong case to be considered a Heisman trophy candidate. That says enough. Texas likely wouldn’t’ have won the TCU game without him.

Griffin McVeigh: Xavier Worthy. Don’t want to think about where the passing game would be without the true freshman.

Kevin Borba: Bijan Robinson. The star running back has been the life and soul of the offense thus far, and his play has garnered him national attention. He is the best and most reliable person on offense, and will likely be relied on even more as Texas looks to fight for a spot in the Big 12 championship.

Defensive MVP

AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

Cami Griffin: This one is tough, but I’ll go Anthony Cook here. The fourth-year defensive back has played consistent football through the first half of the season and is still somehow one of the most underrated players on the roster.

Griffin McVeigh: Oh, yeesh. I’ll take Alfred Collins due to how versatile he has been. Inside or outside, he has been the best part about the front seven.

Kevin Borba: Tough to pick someone from a group that is statistically towards the bottom in seemingly everything, but Anthony Cook has been extremely productive for them and has made major strides.

Best coaching hire

AP Photo/Michael Thomas

Cami Griffin: I was really hoping that it would be Kyle Flood at this point, but he clearly has a lot to prove. In terms of what a coach brings on and off the field, I’ll have to choose Jeff Banks here.

Griffin McVeigh: Recruiting standpoint: Bo Davis. Coaching standpoint: Jeff Banks.

Kevin Borba: Stan Drayton if we are just talking about a coach who was hired at one point, but this season’s best hire would have to be Jeff Banks.

Surprise player

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Cami Griffin: Anthony Cook. It may seem weird to name him the surprise player and the defensive MVP, but in my opinion he has been the most improved player on either side of the ball for Texas.

Griffin McVeigh: Luke Brockermeyer has been a decent surprise at middle linebacker. Was not too sure what to expect but he has performed well next to Overshown.

Kevin Borba: Xavier Worthy. There were extremely high expectations for the speedy freshman coming in, and he has exceeded those expectations and then some. I knew he would contribute early, but I did not expect him to be far and away the best on the roster this soon.

Newcomer of the Year

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Cami Griffin: Xavier Worthy. This one is impossible to argue against.

Griffin McVeigh: Xavier Worthy. He is going to win Big 12 Newcomer of the Year with ease.

Kevin Borba: Xavier Worthy. The Big 12 likely has his name engraved on the award already.

Underwhelming player

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Cami Griffin: Christian Jones. You could arguably say the entire offensive line here, but that wouldn’t be fair. Considering the praise that Kyle Flood and Steve Sarkisian gave for Jones this offseason, he has been one of the weakest links of the team up to this point.

Griffin McVeigh: Does not feel fair to say because of the injury but Jordan Whittington. Thought he was going to transform into one of the conference’s best but is once again unavailable.

Kevin Borba: Ray Thornton. After generating the most hype of any of the new transfers on that side of the ball, and expected to fill the shoes of Joseph Ossai, he has been a nonfactor so far. I knew he wouldn’t surpass Ossai’s talent or production, but I didn’t expect him to contribute as little as he does.

Best moment

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Cami Griffin: I’ll have to say Bijan Robinson’s third down run to ice the game against TCU. After the offense was struggling to get anything going through the air, Robinson showed that he could single-handedly win a game for Texas, and more importantly, Steve Sarkisian trusted him to. Those are games that the Longhorns would have dropped in the past.

Griffin McVeigh: First quarter against Oklahoma was pretty awesome. Not anything after that, though.

Kevin Borba: The first half of the Oklahoma game almost had me and the college football world claiming that Texas was “back”. The high octane offense was a thing of beauty, and the defense was looking dominant.

Worst moment

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Cami Griffin: The first half against Arkansas. It gave every Texas fan an all too familiar feeling. Both the players and coaching staff were clearly not prepared for that game.

Griffin McVeigh: The moment it clicked nothing was going to work against Arkansas. Sometime in the third quarter.

Kevin Borba: Giving up a 60-yard run to Caleb Williams during Red River. You could tell instantly he gave the team a morale boost and a lot more confidence. Meanwhile, Texas looked horrendous in every aspect in that second half. It was a sign of things to come in that game.

Second half predictions

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Cami Griffin: That Oklahoma loss is going to sting Steve Sarkisian, and I don’t think he’ll let up on the gas for the remainder of the season. Texas should, and can, finish out 6-0 to reach the Big 12 championship game.

Griffin McVeigh: 5-1 but not sure who the loss is going to be. Oklahoma State is a big threat but a trip to Ames looms as well.

Kevin Borba: 5-1 seems like the safer bet. Texas still has to take on Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Iowa State and two of those will be on the road. The trenches are a major concern, and I don’t think they will be getting any better in that area.

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