Texas football comes into the 2022 season with elevated expectations after a rough first year for head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Someone in the USA Today Coaches Poll decided to give Texas a No. 1 vote going into 2022. Even though that’s an absurdly bold pick, it’s also a sign that college football is just waiting for UT to get back in contention as quickly as possible.
The Longhorns come into the season ranked No. 25 in the FanSided Top 50 Preseason Rankings.
Do they have what it takes to rise up the rankings from here?
Texas football 2021 season in review
Sarkisian’s first season in charge took a turn for the worst in the second half, ending with a 5-7 record.
The Longhorns bested Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener, then fell to Arkansas before finding their stride with three straight wins. That was the high point of the campaign though.
Consecutive losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor proved Texas wasn’t ready to play with the big boys yet. Then three more losses to Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia added some real embarrassment. A finale win over Kansas State did little to take the bad taste of the season out of people’s mouths.
Previewing Texas Longhorns offense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (6): RB Bijan Robinson, WR Xavier Worthy, WR Jordan Whittington, OL Jake Majors, OL Junior Angilau, OL Christian Jones
- Notable newcomers: QB Quinn Ewers (Ohio State), WR Isaiah Neyor (Wyoming), WR Agiye Hall (Alabama), WR Tarique Milton (Iowa State), TE Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama)
- Impact player: Bijan Robinson
New quarterback Quinn Ewers will be sure to steal the headlines assuming he wins the starting job over Hudson Card and Maalik Murphy after transferring from Ohio State. However, the strength of this offense will come down to the running backs.
Bijan Robinson is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, Roschon Johnson can carry the load himself and Keilan Robinson is a home run threat who averaged 7.16 yards per carry last year.
The Longhorn ground game should be fun to watch with three returning starters on the offensive line prepared to lead the way.
When Texas wants to air it out, they’ll have options. Xavier Worthy was a revelation in 2021 and Jordan Whittington is back as the team’s second-leading receiver. The WR unit also got some big reinforcements including Wyoming’s Isaiah Neyor, Alabama’s former Top 50 prospect Agiye Hall and Iowa State’s Tarique Milton. To top it all off, the passing game will get a boost from Alabama tight end Jahleel Billingsley.
Neyor and Billingsley were included in 247Sports’ most talented transfers for 2022, so expect big things from them.
Previewing Texas Longhorns defense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (7): DT Moro Ojomo, NT Keondre Coburn, LB Ovie Oghoufo, LB DeMarvion Overshown, LB Luke Brockermeyer, CB D’Shawn Jamison, S Anthony Cook
- Notable newcomers: LB Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey (James Madison), CB Ryan Watts (Ohio State)
- Impact player: DeMarvion Overshown
The Longhorns gave up 31.1 points per game last season so the defense will be looking to make a big comeback in 2022.
Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown headlines the group after leading the team in tackles last year. He will be joined by James Maddison transfer Diamonte Tucker Dorsey and returning All-Big-12 honorable mention Luke Brockermeyer, who is recovering from an ACL injury.
The front seven returns a lot of experience while the secondary will have gaps to fill after losing safeties Brendan Schooler and BJ Foster and cornerback Josh Thompson. Ohio State transfer Ryan Watts will slot in alongside returning starter D’Shawn Jamison.
Texas football players awards watch for 2022 season
The Longhorns have seven players on preseason watch lists for national awards.
DeMarvion Overshown, Lombardi/Butkus/Nagurski/Bednarik
Overshown led the Longhorns in tackles last year and returns for his fifth year in Austin with high expectations. He’s on the radar for just about every award he’d be eligible for in 2022.
Bijan Robinson, Walter Camp/Doak Walker/Maxwell
Robinson will come into the 2022 season with the potential to prove himself as the best running back in the nation. So naturally, the All-Big 12 first-teamer and Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year is in the running for some big national awards.
Xavier Worthy, Walter Camp/Maxwell/Biletnikoff
Worthy was a revelation for the Longhorns in 2021, winning the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year Award with 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. After setting those records and getting an All-Big-12 first-team nod, he’s in line to make a national impression.
Roschon Johnson, Doak Walker
Robinson isn’t the only running back on the Texas roster with hopes of contending for the title of top RB in the nation. Johnson played second fiddle to Robinson with 569 yards last season and will look to take on a bigger role.
Isaiah Neyor, Biletnikoff
Neyor had 878 yards and 12 touchdowns for Wyoming last season, leading the Mountain West with 19.95 yards per catch. He’ll try to turn his big-play ability into contention for the Biletnikoff.
Ja’Tavion Sanders, Mackey
Sanders was the top athlete in the class of 2021, ranking No. 13 overall. He performed on the field goal unit as a blocker during his freshman season and is in line to take over as the starting tight end in 2022. Given his potential, he’s already a candidate for the Mackey.
D’Shawn Jamison, Hornung
Jamison will start at cornerback for the Longhorns this season but his immense ability as a return man is what makes him a candidate for the Paul Hornung Award.
Texas Longhorns biggest game on 2022 schedule
The Alabama game will be a huge opportunity for Sarkisian against his former boss, but let’s face it, that game will be a success if Texas just avoids a blowout.
The real meaningful battles will come in Big 12 play. The Red River Showdown against Oklahoma is always the biggest game of the season.
Texas football best-case scenario
If “Texas is back!” doesn’t get turned into a joke midway through the season, then the Longhorns will have done what they needed to do.
It’s asking far too much for this squad to pull off an upset of Alabama but Texas could still make huge waves by taking down the big-hitters in the Big 12.
Losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor last season came by one possession each. Flipping those results would put UT in the driver’s seat in the conference. A Year 2 Big 12 title for Sarkisian would make quite the statement.
Texas football worst-case scenario
Sarkisian’s first season turned into a bit of a train wreck and it’s not outside the realm of possibility for it to happen again.
The Longhorns will face a pre-bye week stretch of Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State in October. The wheels could fall off again at that point and Sarkisian may not have the leadership ability to bring it back together. (That’s all assuming UTSA doesn’t pop up with a signature upset bid in Week 3 to accelerate the whole process.)
Bowl eligibility should still be the floor for this squad. It’s not hard to find six losses on the schedule though.
Texas football 2022 season prediction
Texas will be better than last season, that much is certain. However, they’ll still be dealing with growing pains at quarterback, even if Ewers is immensely talented. The transformation won’t happen overnight for Sarkisian and company.
Robinson and the running game will make sure the offense gets going more consistently in 2022. The defensive will get under 30 points per game allowed. They’ll beat one of OU, OSU and Baylor as a result. But they won’t have a winning record in those games.
In the end, the Longhorns will have to feel good about an 8-4 turnaround with hope for the future.
Texas football 2022 bowl game prediction
Sporting News bowl projections from Bill Bender have the Longhorns facing North Carolina in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Up Next: No. 24: Pittsburgh Panthers
Other articles in this series:
- No. 26 BYU
- No. 27 Houston
- No. 28 LSU
- No. 29 Ole Miss
- No. 30 Air Force
- No. 31 Iowa
- No. 32 Purdue
- No. 33 Mississippi State
- No. 34 Florida
- No. 35 Boise State
- No. 36 Florida State
- No. 37 UCLA
- No. 38 Minnesota
- No. 39 Fresno State
- No. 40 Kansas State
- No. 41 South Carolina
- No. 42 Boston College
- No. 43 Louisville
- No. 44 Auburn
- No. 45 Appalachian State
- No. 46 Coastal Carolina
- No. 47 UCF
- No. 48 Maryland
- No. 49 Iowa State
- No. 50 Nebraska