KEY QUESTIONS FOR 2024: Texas Longhorns

By George Somerville

As the college football season approaches, we will be looking at the key questions to answer for the leading playoff hopefuls. This time around we look at the Texas Longhorns who are looking to go one step further than last years CFB Playoff appearance but this time as a member of the SEC. 

Image credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez,

Can Sarkisian take the final step?

I think the situation at Texas can be compared favourably to that at Ohio State. To be clear, this is not a win-or-bust season for Sarkisian, as it most likely is for Ryan Day in Columbus, Ohio. However, the Longhorns’ roster is built for success this year, and even though an SEC schedule beckons, Longhorn fans will view anything other than a CFB Playoff final appearance as a disappointing end to the season.

Expectations are always high in Austin. There is something of a swagger about the University of Texas. But under the leadership of Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, the Longhorns have been able to back up this cowboy swagger with results. 

How often have we heard the phrase “Texas is back,” only for the burnt orange to let the side down? But not currently.

In Sarkisian’s first season in Austin (2021), Texas’ record was 5-7. In 2022 he recorded his first winning season at Texas with an 8-5 record. Last year this improved to 12-2 with Texas being ranked #3 in CFB. Perhaps more importantly in those 3 seasons Sarkisian has achieved top 5 recruiting classes in each of those years. 

The future is bright in Austin, the future is Burnt Orange.

Notwithstanding this positivity, there remains a degree of uncertainty. That uncertainty is caused by Texas’s induction into the Southeastern Conference.

SEC Schedules are just built different

There is no question that Texas wants to make a big splash in the SEC in year one. As I have already said, the Texas roster oozes quality, with Sarkisian having the Longhorns on an upward trajectory. However, the one element that is uncertain is how this Texas team will cope with the arduous nature of an SEC schedule.

I am certain doubters outside the conference will quickly point out that Texas has a pretty hard schedule each season. However, the truth of the matter is that once conference schedule play commences, there is no let up in the SEC – it is a tough conference to play in. Let’s examine what the SEC means for the Longhorns this year.

The season opener is against Colorado State in DKR, followed by Michigan on the road at the Big House. The Longhorns then play UTSA and Louisiana-Monroe in Athens before SEC conference play begins. We know Michigan is in a state of rebuilding, and the other 3 games are winnable for Texas,

On 28th September, Texas makes its SEC debut against Mississippi State in Austin. This is followed by the Red River Rivalry game before Georgia visits the Lone Star State. These games are a much sterner test. Texas should be glad about not playing in Starkville. However, the game against Oklahoma is a difficult one to predict, and Georgia should be the Longhorns’ first defeat of the season. So far, so good.

After Georgia, Texas travels to Nashville to play Vandy, then hosts Florida in Austin before travelling to Arkansas. The Longhorns last two regular season games see Kentucky travel to Austin and then Texas play the Aggies at Kyle Field. While there are no trips to Alabama, LSU or Tennessee in there, this is still a tough introduction to the SEC. 

Florida in Austin and Arkansas on the road will be interesting tests for Sarkisian’s team. On paper they should win all three of these, but by this point in the season, the schedule is taking its toll on bodies. It goes without saying that the resumption of the Texas rivalry game vs A&M will be a passionate affair and again very difficult to predict.

So, the million-dollar question is, does Texas get through this schedule with only one defeat? This could as easily be an 8-4 season as 10-2 or 11-1. Whatever happens, the Longhorns’ start to life in the SEC is sure to be electric.

Is the Texas QB room the best in all of College?

Image credit: Jay Janner/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

As already discussed, the Texas roster is built for success. Nowhere is that more true than in the QB room. Quinn Ewers has unfinished business and is back for a final season, opting not to leave for the NFL. Ewers is right up there with Carson Beck as a Heisman candidate and will be one of the more experienced QB’s playing in the SEC this year.

Last season Ewers missed two games with injury but still recorded 3,479 yards with 22 TD’s and a further 5 rushing TD’s. To have Ewers return is huge for the Longhorns. However, it is not hyperbole to say that the Longhorns QB room might be the most talented in College ball. Of course, we haven’t seen much of Arch Manning yet; however, this feels like a situation where the reality will match the hype. Sarkisian’s continued protection of his young superstar is a testament to his talent.

Add in true freshman and highly rated Trey Owens, and Texas has an exciting group of quarterbacks to work with. And remember, this is after Maalik Murphy and Charles Wright transferred out.

While Ewers is not considered injury-prone per se, he has missed games in the last two seasons, and a heavy SEC schedule is unlikely to be any less onerous on his body. Should Manning get the chance to put a string of games together, it would make for exciting times in Austin. Only then will we know if Manning Mk III is the real deal.

George Somerville

Touchdown sec correspondent

George is a long standing fanatic of life and football in the deep south and writes his weekly column called “IT’s Only SEC” for the touchdown. he is also co-host and one third of the college chaps podcast, the UK’s first podcast dedicated to the college game.