It was yet another dismal showing by the Texas Longhorns. This team hasn’t turned the corner.
While all the pundits lauded the Texas Longhorns stunning victory over Oklahoma and reveled in their gritty victory in the rain over Kansas State, I bit my tongue and waited. I wasn’t as convinced as a lot of others. On Saturday night, the Longhorns proved that approach to be prudent. As it turns out, this Texas Longhorns team hasn’t really changed at all.
The Longhorns looked every bit as bad against Iowa State as they ever have during the Charlie Strong era. They were completely inept offensively, gave up huge chunks of yardage defensively, were dominated on third downs and a loss in special teams. The only real difference is that no Longhorn apologist, no matter how orange his blood, can make any excuses now. This wasn’t a Top Ten team in contention for a playoff berth. This was a two win Iowa State that is probably the least talented team in the conference, save Kansas. And they just lined up and whupped Texas on Saturday night.
What makes it worse is the fact that this loss was predictable. You simply can’t win at this level without some semblance of a passing game. It was just a matter of time before a better coaching staff schemed to take away the three play Texas playbook. It was only a matter of time before some defense sat back in zone coverage and dared Jerrod Heard to beat them through the air. The fact that it didn’t happen until now is somewhat shocking.
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What Iowa State showed the world is that Texas is still the same dumpster fire that they were. They attacked the weak links along the offensive line that Joe Wickline has somehow not managed to fix. They suffocated the power running game that was the only thing Texas did moderately well. Then they sat back and waited for Texas to turn to a passing game that everyone knew didn’t exist.
The apologists are going to come out in force again and recite the same old tired excuses. Strong needs more time, he needs more recruits, Mack Brown sucked…etc. They’ll talk about how young teams don’t develop in a straight line and will inevitably take steps backwards. Only this time, that talk will fall flat. The truth was exposed Saturday night in Ames. This is a program going nowhere. There is no development or direction. They got blown out by the second worst team in the conference. Well, maybe the third worst team, since they are clearly superior to Texas.
This is a team that, once again, never got off the bus and never got in the fight. They got punched in the face early and folded like a cheap card table. You can say that the Texas defense righted the ship after a rocky start, but let’s be honest. This wasn’t TCU they were playing. Is there any doubt that a quality opponent would have hung 50 on Texas?
It’s clear now that the Texas coaching staff, the one that was supposed to be a teaching and development staff, is in shambles and a obvious failure. There will be huge turnover in the offseason and I’m not sure if any of them have earned the right to stay. The Jay Norvell experiment is a joke and Shawn Watson’s inability to develop a quarterback will continue to haunt this program for years to come.
The only hope that Texas has now for any sort of a quick end to the nightmare is if Strong finds himself the type of dynamic Offensive Coordinator that can turn this bunch into something special quickly. The type that can develop a real quarterback like Shane Buechele on the fly. The type that can scheme and adapt and at least hold his own in the Xs and Os chess game. I doubt he can do it.
This loss is going to reverberate for a long time. It’s yet another bullet in the gun of all the other schools recruiting against Texas. At this point, why would any offensive player buy into Strong’s vision when they could go to TCU or Baylor or Tech or pretty much any other team. Why would a defensive player buy in when he could go play the same style of defense in the SEC and actually be on a competitive team. I don’t care how good a recruiter Strong is, results matter and he’s not getting results.
Looking ahead to 2016, as this year is now officially shot, it’s hard to see things getting much better. Will Heard or Swoopes really turn into quarterbacks? Will the offensive line get better? Will the defense improve enough to cover up for a offense that looks this dreadful? With the level of play in the Big 12, would any of it matter?
For Strong, he had better find the answers. This next round coaching hires and this next recruiting class will likely be his last if he doesn’t. He has wasted all of his good will and all of the benefit of the doubt. Texas can’t give him any longer than next year to prove that he is the man for the job. I’m not holding my breath.