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The Good, Bad, and Expected from Saturday’s disappointing loss at Iowa State

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A disastrous game on the ground dictated the performance from the Longhorns on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Texas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

‘SOL — Same Ole Longhorns’

Another slow start from the Texas Longhorns had this game shaping up to be 2015 Iowa State vs. Texas all over again up until the Longhorns scored their first points of the game with 43 seconds remaining in the first half. On a day where Texas probably didn’t deserve to win, they managed to blow their lone opportunity at victory with the ball in their hands late. A more disciplined and deserving Iowa State Cyclones football team executed late to notch their first victory over Texas since 2015.

Here’s this week’s column of the good, bad, and expected:

The Good

S Caden Sterns

Considering how well Sterns defended in coverage against 6’6 tight end Charlie Kolar down the stretch, it makes you wonder if the outcome would have been different had Sterns been shadowing him on third downs from the start. Instead, Kolar was matched up against younger, smaller cornerbacks Kenyatta Watson and D’Shawn Jamison before Sterns was on him. This resulted in multiple third-down conversions for Iowa State to Kolar early.

Sterns finished the game with seven solo tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack. It sure has made a difference for Orlando and the defense having No. 7 back out there. He’s always making plays.

Also, that made-up pass interference call on Sterns was extremely bad.

Go-ahead TD drive

If only... Regardless of how poorly Texas played, Ehlinger’s touchdown to Epps on fourth-and-goal would have went down as a season defining play had Texas of won. That was a vintage moment and drive for Ehlinger.

WR Devin Duvernay

Without Collin Johnson playing, Duvernay remained the heart and soul of the offense on Saturday. He made several impressive toe-tapping catches along the sidelines yesterday on his way to his fourth straight 100-yard receiving game.

Also, Duvernay helped spark that go-ahead touchdown drive after leveling a defender with a clean block on Ingram’s 13-yard reception. He continues to prove himself as a complete wide receiver week in and week out.

The Bad

Inept offense / offensive gameplan

After seeing the amount of success that Oklahoma sustained through the air against Iowa State last weekend, it’s significantly telling that Ehlinger had less than 50 passing yards with under a minute left in the first half. Just as it’s been the past several games, Texas’ run-pass balance was way too inconsistent on a down-to-down basis.

Besides Duvernay, this offense has no identity as a unit right now. The offensive coaching continues to make everything look harder than it has to be. Runs looked very predictable at times with the personnel sets the offense was in.

For example, the designed short-yardage package power runs with Ehlinger were blatantly obvious. And when Texas had a chance to seal the win up 21-20 with four minutes remaining, they came out in a 12 personnel set and ran up-the-middle twice for nothing. It’s inconceivable for Texas to come out conservative up by one point in that situation.

Maybe Herman should consider bringing in a bright offensive mind in the offseason to revamp the offense. Reaching out to the former Texas Tech quarterback and current USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell would be a worth a shot. Harrell currently has the Trojans offense averaging nearly 450 yards per game behind a true freshman quarterback. They also hung 30 points on Utah’s stout defense.

Line of scrimmage play

More often than not, the outcome of football games is decided within the trenches. It was Iowa State who was establishing their will at the line of scrimmage in this one. While Iowa State gained 6-8 yards a pop through creative runs on the ground, Texas barely managed to gain 1-3 yards a pop on poorly constructed run plays. Credit to Iowa State’s stifling front seven. but either way, it’s inexcusable for Texas to average 2.2 yards on the ground.

As Iowa State shutdown the run, Texas decided to go full air-raid mode on offense and completely abandoned the run in the third quarter.

Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson aren’t ones to blame, either. Lack of creativity in the run game was evident all game.

Lack of accountability

Leaving Ames with a loss saying “I’d never say we got outcoached and we continued to make adjustments” isn’t ideal to hear after a performance like this.

The Expected

Failing to take the points early in the game

This has become an every game occurrence under Herman at Texas. And yet again, it proved to be costly in the end. Just take the points if you’re planning to play that conservative on the road.

Slow start

Saturday’s 10-0 deficit marked the seventh time this season where Texas’ opponent jumped out to the early lead. Also, the Longhorns have now trailed from the start in each of their four away games. This is nothing new for the 2019 season.

My takeaway

With the Big 12 championship all but out of play now, Texas has two weeks to right this ship and reach nine wins by winning a bowl game. On the flip side, a 6 or 7 win season is still very much in play as well.

It’s year three of the Herman era and this program remains on both the winning and losing side of coin flip games against nearly every Big 12 program. Games like these shouldn’t come down to needing a defensive stop on the final drive of the game. Look at Oklahoma, they always find ways to win close games on their off nights. This was supposed to be the year where Texas started to do more of the same.

After seeing some regression this season, Herman now faces his most difficult challenge yet as a head coach. And that’s pressure — it comes in larger amounts here in Austin than anywhere else.

Along with focusing on finishing this season off strong, Herman’s challenge starts with taking a deep evaluation of his coaching staff and adjusting from there. This upcoming offseason will be crucial for him.