Texas Football: Another sickening loss to close season

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Sam Ehlinger
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Sam Ehlinger /

Texas Football suffered yet another sickening loss to close the 2017 regular season.

The Longhorns took a 23-13 lead against Texas Tech into the fourth quarter, then gave away two late touchdowns to take a stunning 27-23 home loss on senior night.

There are so many ways to look at this result, leaving the Longhorns with a dismal and unacceptable 6-6 record.

We’ll start with the most glaring item.

With two minutes remaining the game, Texas was up 23-20 and in Texas Tech territory facing a 3rd and 2. The key was Tech only had one timeout left in the game. Instead of calling a running play to go for a first down and at the very least force Tech to use their last timeout, maligned offensive coordinator Tim Beck called a pass. Not only a pass, but the rollout play that has been utterly disastrous for the Longhorns this season.

On the rollout, disaster struck again, as Ehlinger threw late and across his body for an interception. Tech took the pick all the way down to the 14 yardline. Two plays later, Tech cashed in a TD to take the lead 27-23.

Texas still had another chance for a game-winning drive. However, Ehlinger went for a deep shot into triple coverage instead of taking an underneath checkdown for good yardage that resulted in another INT. That one sealed the game for Tech.

Tim Beck an Embarrassment to the Texas Longhorns

This game is on Tim Beck. The offensive coordinator has been inconsistent throughout the season, calling utterly bizarre plays in the key situations.

Furthermore, the lack of consistent running game reared its ugly head again in this game.

There was no commitment to run the ball like last week against West Virginia when the Horns became bowl eligible running behind healthy offensive lineman Connor Williams.

On Saturday, Daniel Young only had 13 carries, Toneil Carter only had 3 carries (he fumbled on one of those), and Kyle Porter only had 4 carries. Meanwhile, Sam Ehlinger had 10 carries.

The worst statistic of all, though, was Texas inside the 3 yardline in the first half. Beck called reverses, reverse passes, rollouts (hold us while we vomit thinking of how the Oklahoma State game ended), and other plays that did nothing.

If the Texas Longhorns Football Team cannot line up from the 3 yardline or closer and shove the ball down the throat of the defense 12 games into the season, then it’s time for the offensive coaching staff to evaluate whether they are fit to coach this team.

Instead of putting Tech away in the first half, the Longhorns had to settle for 20 and 19 yard field goals.

The result was Texas took a 20-10 lead into halftime when they easily should have been up by two or three TDs.

So, yes, if you do the math, the Longhorns only scored 3 points in the second half of the game. 3 points against one of the worst defenses in college football.

Sam Ehlinger Also Not the Answer at QB

More alarming is that Sam Ehlinger regressed against Texas Tech. Not only did he make a cardinal mistake with two minutes late in the game, but he missed Collin Johnson twice on deep passes in the second half where Johnson had beaten his man to the endzone.

However, so much was put on Ehlinger because Tim Beck refused to commit to the running game. Ehlinger should not be throwing 47 times in a game. It’s not a formula for success with a freshman QB.

Ehlinger also has to be more aware of late-game situations. Tom Herman acknowledged after the game that they have to do a better job of coaching him in those situations. Here are three glaring examples:

  • USC: Ehlinger fumbled at the 2 yardline in overtime
  • OSU: Ehlinger threw an interception in the endzone in overtime
  • Tech: Ehlinger threw two INTs in the final two minutes of the game

These are things that cannot happen. It’s the difference between a 9-3 season and another mediocre 6-6 season.

After seeing how this season played out, we know that Beck wants Ehlinger to be the QB because Ehlinger is more capable as a runner to pick up first downs. This is especially important because the playcalling is so predictable and inconsistent.

Shane Buechele at least has experience not to make the kind of mistakes that cost Texas the game.

Overall, there will need to be wholesale changes to the offense. There is no identity and they left the defense out to dry in this game and throughout the season.

Defense Played Winning Football But Could Have Done More

The Texas Defense was terrific for the most part. They made life uncomfortable for QB McLane Carter making his first career start, including picking him off twice in the first half. But, Thorpe Award finalist DeShon Elliott missed a gift-wrapped interception and Texas missed a few other chances at big interceptions.

Unfortunately, the combination of dropped INTs, the offense stalling inside the 3 yardline, and four second-half turnovers by the Longhorns left the door open for Tech.

Enter senior QB Nic Shimonek, who promptly entered in the fourth quarter and beat the secondary for two TD passes, one coming after Ehlinger’s first interception.

Before that, the defense was all over the field breaking up passes, sacking the QB, or recording tackles for loss.

Junior Malik Jefferson, who perhaps played his final regular season game, led the team with 10 tackles.

Meanwhile, Kris Boyd recorded one INT, five passes broken up, and six tackles.

Unfortunately, the team effort was not enough to get the job done. It was another crushing home loss for the Longhorns, who finished 3-3 in Austin this season. The only wins were against 1-11 San Jose State, 1-10 Kansas, and Kansas State in overtime.

At the very least, Texas has to be better at home under Tom Herman. The Longhorns have been mediocre to embarrassing at home over the past eight seasons. That needs to change in a big way next season.

What’s Next for the Longhorns?

Texas finished the season 6-6 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12 conference. That unacceptable performance will land them right in the middle of the conference standings after Saturday’s games.

Then, Texas will wait to find out where they land in the bowl pecking order after the Big 12 championship game next weekend.

Right now, it’s looking like the Texas Bowl against an SEC foe. That’s also how Charlie Strong began his Texas tenure three years ago when the Longhorns finished 6-6, then lost to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.

Next: Top 15 Texas QBs all-time

Will things be any different for Tom Herman’s first bowl game in Austin? It depends on whether Texas Football can find an offensive identity between now and the end of December.