Texas Football loses season opener in stunning fashion

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Holton Hill #5 of the Texas Longhorns intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Holton Hill #5 of the Texas Longhorns intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Tom Herman Era of Texas Football started in stunning, shocking, disappointing, and frustrating fashion. In other words, a lot like losses in the Charlie Strong Era.

It was not supposed to start this way. But, the Texas Longhorns lost 51-41 to Maryland in their season and home opener in Austin.

It would be one thing if the #23 ranked Longhorns lost a close game, say 27-21, where the two sides battled back and forth and Maryland was one play better in the fourth quarter.

This was a game where Texas was on the verge of being blown out in the first half, made it close at halftime, was within one drive of taking the lead in the fourth quarter, and then questionable decisions put the game back into Maryland’s control.

Overall, this was one of the wildest college football openers you will ever see. Tom Herman called it just plain weird. But, it was a loss. And, potentially crushing to the fragile psyche of Texas Longhorns football players who have suffered through three straight losing seasons.

Craziness Starts on the First Drive

This looked like the start of a new era for the Longhorns on the very first drive. Holton “Hollywood” Hill scored a Pick 6 TD on the very first drive of the season.

After DKR Memorial Stadium lost its mind, the Longhorns defense stood up on the second drive and forced Maryland into a punt.

But, the first Texas Football offensive possession of the game proved to be the beginning of the end.

Pinned back deep in their own territory, the offense went pass instead of run. The result was nearly disastrous, as Shane Buechele was sacked at the half yardline. Buechele then threw a deep ball for an interception on third and long. It was essentially a punt. But, it felt like the same issues the offense experienced in previous seasons.

Maryland then scored a TD by carving up the Longhorns defense.

Maryland scored another TD shortly afterwards when Texas’ new kicker Josh Rowland missed his first field goal attempt as a Longhorn.

Rowland had another FG opportunity, but Maryland blocked it and returned the missed field goal for a TD.

Just like that, all the issues from the Charlie Strong Era were on full display.

Texas Avoids Blowout Situation

The game got so bad for the defense and special teams that the Longhorns fumbled a short kickoff, setting up Maryland inside Texas territory. But, Poona Ford changed momentum by blocking a field goal and Holton Hill returned the FG for a touchdown.

Suddenly, a blowout turned into a 27-14 game. But, Maryland came back with a field goal, the Longhorns’ offense stalled out in Maryland territory and the Longhorns went to halftime down 30-14.

The score of 30-14 actually seemed manageable considering how bad things spiraled out of control in the middle of the first quarter and full second quarter.

It was just so shocking to see Texas Football fall into their old, bad habits from before Tom Herman arrived on the scene. Coach Herman was calm at halftime, though, and the Longhorns were on the verge of actually winning this game.

Texas Football Climbs Within 3 Points of Maryland

After a penalty negated a TD, the Longhorns finally scored their first offensive TD of the season when Armanti Foreman made a spectacular catch from a great Shane Buechele pass.

But, the Longhorns failed on a two-point conversion, remaining down 10 points at 30-20.

The failed two-pointer captured how badly the Longhorns were in short yardage situations in this game. In the first half, Texas scored zero points on a First and Goal from the 4 yardline with two poor rushes and two poor passes. There were plenty of other situations, including Texas going 0-4 on fourth downs in the game.

The lack of short yardage success was a combination of not establishing a running game and putting too much on Shane Buechele.

The Longhorns overcame that, though, when Reggie Hemphill-Mapps had a spectacular 91-yard punt return for a TD in the third quarter. Included was an epic, clean block from Malik Jefferson to spring Hemphill-Mapps for the TD.

Texas was only down three points , DKR was rocking, and it looked like Texas was going to make this comeback.

But, special teams giveth and special teams taketh away. The kickoff unit allowed a big kick return, then Maryland’s Ty Johnson busted out a 40-yard TD run to put Maryland up 10 points again.

Texas Football Nearly Finishes Comeback Victory

Down 37-27, the offense started clicking and Shane Buechele orchestrated a drive that resulted in a TD to put the Horns down three again, 37-34.

The defense followed up with a nice stop to force a punt. Now, Texas finally had their moment to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

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Buechele drove the Horns to midfield and had a third and short situation. Then came more of the the questionable playcalling.

Without a running game, the Longhorns called two passing plays in third and fourth and short situations. Neither play worked and Maryland took over near midfield.

The Texas defense forced a third and 19 situation against a freshman QB, Kasim Hill, who replaced the injured Tyrell Pigrome. But, the defense was burned on a deep route and Maryland eventually cashed in a dagger TD.

Maryland eventually went up 51-34 after a turnover on downs before the Longhorns cashed in a late TD for the final margin of 51-41.

It was an embarrassing start to the Tom Herman Era. It was inexcusable. It was not what Texas fans were looking for after suffering through these same types of losses during the end of the Mack Brown Era and the full length of the Charlie Strong Era.

Now, the Horns have to regroup and try to win against San Jose State next week in Austin. More important than next week’s game, though, is the upcoming week of practice. The Texas coaching staff must fix huge issues that carried over from Charlie Strong’s teams. And that will not be acceptable for Texas Football fans. These issues must be fixed.