Texas football vs. UTSA: 3 adjustments Sarkisian should make for Week 3

Roschon Johnson, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Roschon Johnson, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

As we wrap up the reactions and fallout from the high-stakes matchup between Texas football and the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide over the weekend, the preparation will now begin for head coach Jeff Traylor and the UTSA Roadrunners. Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian have some hurdles to overcome this week before facing a quality Group of Five opponent in the defending Conference-USA Champion UTSA.

Sark and the Longhorns are heading into this matchup against the Roadrunners with a record of 1-1 (0-0 Big 12) following the tough one-point loss to head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide at home on Sep. 10. The lone win for the Longhorns on the season came over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at home on Sep. 3.

Meanwhile, UTSA comes into this meeting with the Longhorns sporting a record of 1-1 (0-0 C-USA) after beating the Army Black Knights in overtime on Sep. 10, by a score of 41-38. The lone loss on the season for the Roadrunners also came in overtime at the hands of the No. 24 Houston Cougars at home on Sep. 3.

Necessary adjustments Steve Sarkisian must make for Texas football vs. UTSA in Week 3

Coming off that one-point last-second loss to the Tide over the weekend, here’s a look at three necessary adjustments that Sark and the Longhorns must make before taking on UTSA in Week 3.

Get Ja’Tavion Sanders involved more often

Sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders wasn’t actually utilized much in the passing game by Sark and the Longhorns in the Week 2 loss to the Crimson Tide. While Sanders was only targeted one fewer time in the loss to Alabama than he was in the regular season opener against the Warhawks on Sep. 3, it was the way that he was utilized that was much different.

In the season opener, Sanders was targeted six times at an average depth of 5.8 yards from the line of scrimmage. But in the loss to Alabama last weekend, Sanders was targeted five times at an average depth of 3.8 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The areas that Sanders was targeted in the passing game made a big difference here.

It’s also worth noting that there was a pass in the end zone to Sanders against the Tide that was a pretty obvious missed pass interference call on the defender. If he had caught that touchdown pass, Sanders could’ve finished the game with four catches for around 20 yards and one score.

Instead, he finished up this game with three catches for just four yards and no scores. He didn’t have any drops and wound up taking a loss on one of his catches. That wiped out the longest play he had on the day, which was a catch that went for eight yards.

Moreover, Sanders is the type of skill player that can be an absolute matchup nightmare for a Roadrunners defense that has a weak point in pass coverage. In fact, the highest-graded receiver for Army against UTSA last weekend was a tight end.

UTSA gave up three catches for 86 receiving yards and no touchdowns to the Army tight ends over the weekend. That included more than 30 yards after the catch. UTSA had trouble at times finding the tight ends up the middle and out in the flats.

It looks like there will be ample opportunities for Sanders to get chunk plays in the passing game, similar to what we saw from him in the win over ULM two weeks ago.

Expect Sanders to get the most targets in the passing game against UTSA of all the non-conference games that the Longhorns play in during the regular season.