Texas Football: Longhorns lose another late game vs. Oklahoma

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Kyle Porter
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Kyle Porter /

At some point, the Texas Longhorns have to stop making the same mistakes if they want to compete for the Big 12 Championship.

With a golden opportunity to advance to 3-0 in the conference and dump Oklahoma to 1-2 in the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns gave away victory in Dallas.

The final score was 29-24 in favor of the Sooners, who took advantage of busted coverages that have plagued the Longhorns defense in big moments over the past few years. They also took advantage of offensive coordinator Tim Beck continuing to abandon the running game, which has been a theme throughout this season.

The Longhorns (3-3, 2-1 in Big 12) fought valiantly just to make this a game, as OU jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first half. Texas finally got going with QB Sam Ehlinger, chipping away to eventually take the lead 24-23.

But, on the very next possession after taking the lead, the defense gave up a 59-yard TD pass from Baker Mayfield to Mark Andrews. It only took OU three plays to secure a TD, which unfortunately was a common theme in this game:

  • OU’s first TD Drive: 5 plays and a 54-yard TD pass
  • Sooners second TD drive: 9 plays and 15-yard TD run
  • OU’s third TD drive: 3 plays and 59-yard TD pass

The Longhorns forced field goals on drives where they made Oklahoma move the ball down the field. But, they gave up way too many big shots down the field throughout the game.

In fact, Baker Mayfield was 6-6 on his deep throws during the game. That just cannot happen. However, it was a product of Oklahoma WRs and TEs running wild in the secondary at various points.

Still, Sam Ehlinger gave the Longhorns a chance to win the game.

Texas Football Still Searching for Offensive Identity

If anyone can figure out what Tom Herman and Tim Beck are thinking with the rushing attack, we’re open to suggestions.

  • Chris Warren: 6 carries for 4 yards
  • Toneil Carter: 5 carries for 6 yards
  • Kyle Porter: 3 carries for 7 yards

Meanwhile, Sam Ehlinger had 22 carries in this game. You might look at the RB totals and say, “Well, the Horns shouldn’t be running the ball with the RBs if they can’t rush for more than 5 yards.”

Here’s the issue. The offensive staff never allows the RBs to establish a rhythm. Chris Warren is a runner who needs to get 2, 5, 7 yards, and then pop a big one. But, in every game other than the San Jose State shutout victory, the offensive staff has abandoned the run and not allowed that to develop.

Warren will get one carry and then not see a running play for another three series. Instead, it’s Ehlinger run, scramble, incomplete pass, and three and out.

Ehlinger was the entire offense, but there is no way Texas can win in the Big 12 without some form of running attack from the RBs.

This even extended to Shane Buechele, who entered the game late in the fourth quarter when Ehlinger was temporarily injured.

Texas Had Golden Opportunity to Win Late

After Oklahoma re-took the lead 29-24, the Longhorns started their march to go back on top.

Sam Ehlinger was injured when he was tackled hard on the Texas sideline. Shane Buechele entered and drove the Longhorns to the Oklahoma 31 yardline with three minutes left in the game.

Then came a critical stretch in the game — and perhaps the season.

On first down, instead of running the ball against a worn-down OU defensive line, another passing play was called. Buechele was sacked. After a false start, Ehlinger re-entered and scrambled to get some of the yardage back. Then, Ehlinger threw two straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.

That was the third time in the game the Longhorns turned the ball over on downs. The Horns went 1-4 on fourth downs, mainly due to the lack of a consistent running game.

If you go back to first down from the 31 with 3:00 left in the game, it was a terrific opportunity to continue putting pressure on the defense with a rushing attack. Instead, the Longhorns went backwards before giving the ball back to OU.

Texas got the ball back one more time with just a few seconds left in the game. But, there was not enough time or space to seriously threaten before the clock expired.

The issue is that until Tom Herman and Tim Beck establish the run instead of depending on Ehlinger to run the ball 20+ times per game and pass the ball 40+ times, the Longhorns will be inconsistent on offense.

Next: Texas Football Q&A with Peter Gardere

And, next up is an explosive Oklahoma State team that knows exactly how to run their offense. The Longhorns must figure out their offensive identity — and quickly — if they want to contend for the Big 12 Championship.