In typical Texas fashion, the Longhorns were able to hold on in dramatic fashion and defeat Missouri 33-16 to claim the Texas Bowl trophy. With that being said, we still have some thoughts on the game and what 2018 holds.
1. Thank you, Dickson
Texas fans need to take in this moment, because it is the last time they will ever see one of the greatest punters in college football history wearing burnt orange. Dickson was easily the best part of the Texas offense in 2017, and is a large reason they were able to pull out the victory tonight. Dickson is going to be a fantastic player for a long time in the NFL. We can’t wait to see what team he goes to. Thanks for the memories, Michael. We will always cherish them. Please transfer some of your skills over to your cousin. We would deeply appreciate it.
2. The Texas defense will be fine
The Longhorns defense lacked Malik Jefferson, Holton Hill and DeShon Elliot, and still held the most explosive offense in the SEC to 16 points. Todd Orlando is a wizard that deserves a huge raise. With arguably the greatest DB haul in the history of any recruiting class coming in 2018 along with some other fantastic defensive weapons, Orlando has plenty to work with next year. The loss of Hill, Elliot, and potentially Jefferson can be mended – as we saw tonight. If Tom Herman can figure out a way to create an offensive identity, this team could be scary in a few years.
3. Herman has some decisions to make
Some of Tom Herman’s assistants did not have a great year. The most obvious choice here is offensive coordinator Tim Beck. The offense never developed a clear identity, and when it looked like they had, Beck seemed to always turn away from it immediately. Beck’s play-calling was simply mind boggling at times this season. Tom Herman has a tough choice to make here. If he fires Beck after one season, that won’t look good. He will be criticized for it. However, he must do what is best for his program, and keeping Beck could possibly hold this program back. Another coach under the microscope could be Derek Warehime. Warehime’s position group had an atrocious year. Although the offensive line was plagued by injuries, seasoned veterans up front seemed to regress as the year went on. On top of that, Warehime has had some key misses on the recruiting trail. Many have complained about his inability to develop relationships with recruits. Warehime seems to have fixed this as of late, but it is something to keep an eye on. Herman will likely stick with Warehime for another year, but the OL has to do better next year. Without a better OL, this Texas team will not move up much in the win column.
4. The absence of Josh Huepel was felt by Mizzou
The most explosive offense in the SEC seemed to be anything but until the 3rd quarter of tonight’s game. It didn’t seem to make much sense that Texas lacked two major players in its defensive secondary, yet the Tigers refused to test them vertically. Finally, something clicked and Missouri tested the Longhorns in the second half. On the first play of the 3rd quarter, Drew Lock connected on an 89-yard bomb that would end up being Missouri’s biggest play of the game. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Missouri. You have to tip your hat to Todd Orlando for the way he planned this game. He gave Missour fits throughout the first half and much of the 4th quarter, but the Tigers handed the Longhorns some gifts. Simply put, the Missouri did not look ready to play, and it showed. It’s hard to come back from as horrible of a start as Missouri had. The Tigers learned that the hard way.
5. The outlook for 2018 is…
A positive one. Texas will bring in a top 5 recruiting class to build off what is a primarily young team. The defense will be solid once again under Todd Orlando’s control. The offense is a gigantic question mark. Tom Herman is considered to be one of the best offensive minds in the game. He is going to have to prove that this offseason by attempting to fix Texas’ offensive issues. If he can do so, the Longhorns can become a contender once again in the Big 12. No matter how you slice it, this was not a pretty season for Texas. However, it was progressive. Going from 5-7 to 7-6 is positive progress – no matter how you look at it. Herman has likely learned many things from his first season at Texas that he will take with him into the offseason. Most importantly, Texas earned its first winning season since 2013. The Longhorns are one step closer to returning to their rightful place among college football’s elite programs.