Texas recorded a convincing 49-24 win over Texas Tech in Austin on Friday. After falling behind 14-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes, the Longhorns dominated the final 50 minutes, outscoring the Red Raiders 49-10.
It was Senior Day at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium and the Horns’ rally sent a small Senior class home for the holiday weekend as victors. After the game head coach Tom Herman said, “Small senior class, but the guys around them really, really rallied, sent them out the way they not just deserved but earned to be sent out.”
Texas certainly made celebrating their Seniors difficult on themselves. In addition to the quick 14-point deficit, the Longhorns committed nine penalties for 100 yards. It was the second consecutive game with nine errors and 100 or more penalty yards. The Longhorns rank 120th in the nation in total penalties and 126th in total penalty yards.
As for the game’s incredibly disparate beginning compared to the result, it encapsulated Texas’ season very well. The slow start and 14-point deficit was consistent with the way the Longhorns played since losing to Oklahoma, and their landslide for the game’s final 50 minutes showed the team’s true ability.
For fans, the convincing win makes the team’s November free fall more confusing and frustrating. The obvious question from Friday’s game was: Why was a team capable of dismantling Texas Tech playing so far beneath their capability for a long stretch of the season?
After losing to Baylor, it was clear that the Longhorns were a mediocre team capable of beating teams worse than them, but incapable of winning games against teams better than them. A review of the conference standing strengthens that conviction – three of Texas’ four league losses were to teams tied with or above them in the Big 12 standings. Similarly the Horns feasted on teams below them in the standings. Following this thought, Texas’ loss to TCU was the outlier of the season.
Regardless of the reality of a 7-5/5-4 record, the fact is that Texas had higher expectations for the season. It was not only fans that had hopes of competing for a conference championship, after Friday’s win Tom Herman admitted to the disappointment of the season, “Obviously we’re not happy with the totality of the season.”
But in the same answer, Herman added, “The future is very, very bright. But we’re not oblivious to the fact that we’ve got to evaluate what needs to be fixed and fix it.”
Although the conclusion of the 2019 regular season was as dreary as the weather the final game was played in, Herman’s message of hope for the future is what fans will be asked to muster for the next nine months. While Texas awaits an invitation to a bowl game and the valuable practices associated with it, a minor bowl game feels more like penance for a season of mixed results.
a minor bowl game feels more like penance for a season of mixed results
When looking to the future, Texas would do well to recruit more players like Roschon Johnson. After an early season position switch, Johnson was the player who visibly played the Texas Tech game like he was not satisfied with the way the season played out.
Putting team interests ahead of self and playing with aggression are attributes to build on in 2020. Whether there are more players with Johnson’s attitude will ultimately determine whether or not the team reaches preseason goals.
It’s likely that there will be changes to Tom Herman’s coaching staff. As much as fans won’t admit it, new schemes and play-calling are band aid fixes. For Herman to have the level of sustained success that both he and fans crave, it must start with players exhibiting Johnson’s mindset.
Each week Matt Cotcher added to “The Story of the Season”:
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