Here we go again?
The Texas Longhorns seemingly regressed in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames on Halloween, entering halftime trailing 10-0 after the offense cratered and the defense reverted to early-season form on third-down plays, giving up eight conversions on 14 tries.
Fox Sports 1 also showed a disturbing graphic after the first Iowa State touchdown -- Texas is 0-10 under head coach Charlie Strong when the opponent scores first. There was nothing about the first half to suggest that this game will be any different.
Three 3rd and 10 conversions by Joel Lanning, the new Iowa State starter at quarterback, were particularly painful. He gained 50 yards in the first half on nine carries, but looked inept in the passing game, bouncing multiple passes in front of intended receivers and completing only 11-of-26 passes.
The final incompletion was particularly important, as Texas senior cornerback Duke Thomas leaped to barely deflect a ball that would have otherwise found the hands of Iowa State wide receiver Quenton Bundrage for a big touchdown just before the half. Instead, Bundrage wasn't able to pull the ball in and the Cyclones had to settle for the a field goal.
Iowa State had marched 66 yards on 11 yards on its second possession to take the early lead with a three-yard touchdown run by Mike Warren. The drive featured three conversions on third down for the Cyclones.
The Texas offense regressed and once again looked disturbingly inept. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard looked bad throwing the football, floating a pass down the sideline that was intercepted when he should have thrown it away, nearly throwing interceptions on his two other incompletions, and running out of bounds before picking up a first down.
Unsurprisingly, Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads devoted defensive resources to stopping Heard's scrambling ability, unlike Oklahoma and Kansas State, and it paid off. Heard finished the half with a long run of eight yards and only nine total yards rushing.
Junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the 18 Wheeler package was the only effective part of the offense, as Swoopes picked up 21 yards on his five carries, though he did put one drive behind the chains when he tried to take the edge and lost significant yardage.
With Heard playing poorly and Swoopes providing the only spark, play caller Jay Norvell has a difficult decision to make in the second half -- can he produce a passing game with Heard or will he have to go back to Swoopes?