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Texas flops in listless 24-10 loss to Baylor

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The Longhorns offense was missing in action in the worst performance of head coach Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas.

NCAA Football: Texas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Pick an indelible image from the terrible, no good, very bad day for the Texas Longhorns at McLane Stadium in Waco against the Baylor Bears in a pathetic performance that resulted in a 24-10 loss.

There was head coach Tom Herman head-butting senior defensive end Malcolm Roach before the game to no effect except to spark jokes about Herman concussing himself.

There was Baylor running back Jon Lovett stiff-arming Texas sophomore cornerback Jalen Green to the ground early in the fourth quarter with the Bears looking to build on a 21-3 lead.

There was Texas junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger underthrowing sophomore wide receiver Brennan Eagles, who was open behind the defense, resulting in an interception.

There was the Longhorns defense once again getting called for an offsides penalty that resulted in an opposing first down.

There were Baylor students taunting Texas with chants of “DBU” as the Bears ran away with the game.

There was Herman calling a timeout with five seconds remaining and the Longhorns down 21 points to score a meaningless touchdown and extend the miserable game for a few more minutes.

Any one of them could stand alone in summing up the worst game of Herman’s tenure in Austin, which is rapidly tearing apart at the seams with the team sitting at 6-5 and an incredible distance from the preseason expectations or the optimism that surrounded the program even after the close loss to LSU back in September.

Frustration started to boil over in the fourth quarter, as senior center Zach Shackelford was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, then senior left guard Parker Braun was ejected for his own unsportsmanlike conduct. Junior right tackle Derek Kerstetter threw in another for good measure.

After Herman termed the contest a “character game” for Texas, the Longhorns revealed it on Saturday and it was an exceptionally ugly sight — as many unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as points until the final seconds.

If one of the significant achievements for Herman through most of his first three seasons was avoiding the type of blowout losses that defined Charlie Strong’s failed time at Texas, now that’s unequivocally gone, too.

Against one of the best defenses in the Big 12, the Longhorns struggled to create explosive plays without senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay beyond a 68-yard run by sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram. In a sign of how things went for Texas, Ingram suffered an ankle injury on the play and did not return.

Other than that run, Texas only had one play over 20 yards as the running game struggled for the second time all week, the perimeter passing game was negated by a fast, physical defense. When Ehlinger had time in the pocket, the wide receivers struggled to create separation. Just as often, Ehlinger didn’t have time, suffering five sacks by the Bears defense thanks to an offensive line that has consistently regressed over recent weeks after a strong start to the season.

The Horns didn’t even get the ball inside the Baylor 25-yard line until late in the fourth quarter, then promptly gave up a sack. Fitting.

An offensive attack that was trending towards becoming the school’s best in the last decade is now stagnant and predictable.

The defense played average football, but struggled to get the Baylor offense off the field quickly, forcing only one three and out and not getting enough stops on third down. While the tackling has improved in recent weeks, the defense is still committing too many penalties and not making enough game-changing plays to help spark the offense.

Texas recorded only a single sack and two tackles for loss.

After the regular season ends next week with Friday’s game against the Red Raiders, a team that still has a lot of young players will have a chance to get better during the month of bowl preparation, but it’s become clear that there need to be some changes during the offseason.

Saturday’s debacle flat out wasn’t good enough for a team that has been trending in the wrong direction for weeks.