The Texas Longhorns finished 5-7 in the 2021 season. Kansas was the only Big 12 team to win fewer conference matchups. This was the Longhorns’ first season below. 500 since 2016, and their joint-lowest win total since going 4-8 back in 1988.
It’s a bit early to look at 2022 college football betting lines, but some outlets are already optimistic about the Longhorns. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, for instance, tabbed Texas as the 16th-ranked team in the country, ahead of Oregon and Wake Forest.
While Dodd is at the more ambitious end of the spectrum when it comes to Longhorns predictions, he’s got solid justification in his position. Quinn Ewers and Xavier Worthy are highly rated talents, and Texas’ history of success has many believing 2021 was no more than a blip in Steve Sarkisian’s first season.
Sarkisian’s adds Patterson
Texas was a mess on defense last season. Dodd noted that only TCU and Kansas gave up more yards in 2021.
While personnel changes on the field should help to address that weakness, the Longhorns also made the bold step of adding long-time TCU coach Gary Patterson as a special assistant.
Sarkisian is following in the footsteps of his former boss, Nick Saban. Saban has made a habit of hiring former head coaches into advisory positions over his Alabama tenure, and Sarkisian has copied that approach by adding Patterson, who Sarkisian regards as a ‘tremendous defensive coach’.
After a rough first year, Sarkisian should benefit from Patterson’s experience.
The Longhorns head coach spoke glowingly about his new colleague, saying, “He’s been there 24
years — you know, 21 years as a head coach — and really built that program from the ground up
and put them on a national stage and developed a brand and did a lot of cool things.
“But for me, more than anything, this guy knows our conference really well. He knows the recruiting landscape in the state of Texas really well. Twenty-four years later, he’s still here. He still knows the coaches.”
Patterson isn’t going to single-handedly turn Texas around, but his presence can’t hurt.
Influx of talent
We’ve already touched on the arrival of five-star recruit Quinn Ewers to pair with the Big 12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year in Xavier Worthy. They aren’t alone on a new-look offense, though, with 6’4 tight end Jahleel Billingsley coming in from Alabama after not catching a pass in the CFB Championship.
Ewers is the top recruit in this class, and Texas has done all it can to surround him with weapons in Billingsley, Worthy and Isaiah Neyor. Arriving from Wyoming, Neyor led his former school in receptions and receiving yards and topped the Mountain West with 13 receiving touchdowns.
The porous Longhorns defense was also bolstered. Former four-star recruit Ryan Watts agreed to swap the Buckeyes for the Longhorns in 2022, after entering the portal following Ohio State’s loss to Michigan at the end of the regular season.
Not many teams have improved their roster as much as Texas. Sure, this team needed an overhaul after a poor 2021, and there are still concerns about the defense, but the offense should be prolific. They’re going to, at the very least, be a fun team to watch next season.