Texas Football: 4 takeaways from a regular season of progress

Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jaylan Ford, Texas football
Jaylan Ford, Texas football /

On Black Friday, head coach Steve Sarkisian and No. 23 ranked Texas football wrapped up the regular season on a high note. Texas concluded the regular season on Nov. 25 with a gritty 38-27 win at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (also on Senior Day) over head coach Dave Aranda and the Baylor Bears.

The win over Baylor gives Sark and the Longhorns two victories in a row to conclude the regular season. Texas beat Baylor and the Kansas Jayhawks in the final two games of the regular season by a combined margin of 53 points.

There were hopes after the Longhorns beat the Bears on Black Friday that Sark’s squad would be able to eek their way into the Big 12 Championship Game against the No. 4 ranked TCU Horned Frogs next weekend.

Texas needed Kansas to beat the No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats on the road in Manhattan on the night of Nov. 26 to get the second spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. But Kansas State ultimately shot down those chances, beating Kansas by double digits this weekend.

Yet, a regular season that sees Texas finish up with a record of 8-4 (6-3 Big 12) while coming in third place in the conference should still be considered a success. Texas is bowl eligible for the first time since 2020. And we already have a three-win improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 for Sark and his staff.

Takeaways from a regular season of improvement for Steve Sarkisian and Texas football

Here’s a look at four takeaways from a successful regular season for the Longhorns in 2022.

Jaylan Ford gives Texas the defensive playmaker it needed

It’s hard to fathom just how good junior linebacker Jaylan Ford was for Texas down the stretch this season. He had a second half for the ages to close out the regular season.

I would go so far as to say that if you remove the season opener, Ford just had one of the best, and most surprising (in a positive way of course) runs for a Texas linebacker in the modern history of the program.

The last time Texas had a linebacker register tackles in the triple digits in a single season was the former All-American Malik Jefferson back in 2017. Considering that Jefferson is one of the best linebackers in the last two decades for the Longhorns, that’s not bad company to be in for Ford.

It’s worth mentioning that with 109 combined tackles on the season already, Ford is on pace to have the most in a campaign for Texas since Jordan Hicks in 2014 (147).

But Ford is clearly making an impact on more areas of the defense than just raking in a bevy of combined tackles. He’s forcing turnovers at critical points in games and making plays all over the field in terms of forcing fumbles and stuffing runs.

According to Sports Reference, Ford is now the only Big 12 player since the turn of the century to put up combined tackles in the triple digits, tackles for loss in the double digits, at least four interceptions, and three forced fumbles in a single season.

And we’re not even done with the season yet. Ford still has the bowl game to continue to add to his insane stat line for the season.

I also want to give credence to how good the linebacker duo of Ford and senior DeMarvion Overshown was this season. Ford and Overshown were ultra-consistent, providing this Texas defense exactly what it needed at the linebacker position.

Overshown finished the regular season with 14 tackles in the win over Baylor. He also rounded out the regular season with tackles for loss in the double digits for the first time in his career.

All in all, I think that Ford is clearly deserving of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors while Overshown should be a shoo-in for All-Big 12 LB honors this season.