After entering the year with high expectations, 2019 has devolved into a mildly disappointing campaign for the Longhorn Republic. But with Texas entering tonight’s game as the underdogs – as was the case against the Georgia Bulldogs in last season’s Sugar Bowl – the New Year’s Eve season finale also represents an opportunity to send the program and its fanbase into the offseason on a strong note, with a good taste in their mouths.
Will junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger finally justify his infamous “We’re back” comment after last season’s win over Georgia? It’s a now or never moment – win now, or forever hold your peace.
“We’re thrilled to be challenged by a Utah team that played for their conference championship,” head coach Tom Herman said during the Alamo Bowl press conference with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham earlier this week. “They’ve won 11 games. They play unbelievably great defense. And they’re obviously a challenge on offense with their ball control, with their ability to run the football. ... We know we’ve got a challenge, but again, we feel like we’ve had a good couple weeks of preparation and we’re excited for it.”
WHAT THE WISE MEN ARE SAYING ABOUT THE LONGHORNS
247Sports: Herman: Alamo Bowl experience a double-edged sword for the Longhorns
247Sports: Tom Herman ‘absolutely’ expects Sam Ehlinger to return to Texas
Houston Chronicle: Texas Longhorns defense refocused for Alamo Bowl after losing Todd Orlando
CBS Sports: College football expert picks, bowl predictions for Dec. 31, 2019: Utah covers against Texas in Alamo Bowl
Hookem.com: Texas’ Tom Herman on new hires: ‘I know this is going to be an important offseason for me’
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE IN LONGHORN LAND AND THE BIG 12
- Texas will be without two freshman linebackers for Tuesday’s Alamo Bowl against Utah, as the team announced on Monday that David Gbenda and Byron Vaughns were both sent home for a violation of team rules. A 6’0, 220-pounder, Gbenda was not expected to play against Utah in order to preserve his redshirt — he appeared in four games this season and mostly played on special teams, but did appear on defense against Kansas and made one tackle. Due to injuries at the running back position, he briefly transitioned to offense early in the season. Vaughns redshirted last season before appearing in 10 games in 2019, mostly on special teams. He recorded 14 tackles, including eight tackles against Kansas in the most extensive action of his career on defense. Without Gbenda and Vaughns, Texas will only have four linebackers available against Utah who were recruited as scholarship players.
UT officials said in a press release that freshman linebackers David Gbenda and Byron Vaughns were sent home for violating team rules. https://t.co/kv3e3a01AJ— KENS 5 (@KENS5) December 31, 2019
- 2006 Alamo Bowl MVP and former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, alongside 2005 Fiesta Bowl MVP and former Utah quarterback Alex Smith, will be tonight’s honorary captains.
BREAKING: 2006 #valeroalamobowl MVP @ColtMcCoy will be the Honorary Captain for @TexasFootball & 2005 @Fiesta_Bowl MVP Alex Smith will serve as Honorary Captain for @Utah_Football. #GoUtes | #HookEm pic.twitter.com/vDQ2ri5Axb— Valero Alamo Bowl (@valeroalamobowl) December 30, 2019
- Recently fired Texas assistant coach Drew Mehringer has reportedly joined recently fired Florida State Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart, who was recently hired as the new head coach for the Florida Atlantic Owls, in Boca Raton, where he’ll serve as Taggart’s co-offensive coordinator. Prior to his firing after the regular season finale, Mehringer served as a member of Texas’ coaching staff for three seasons under Herman.
Drew Mehringer, who spent the past three seasons at Texas, is the latest addition to Willie Taggart’s staff as co-OC / WRshttps://t.co/Kba4OjFCfh— Doug Samuels (@CoachSamz) December 30, 2019
- Texas men’s basketball bounced back last night against the High Point Panthers in what amounted to an 89-56 victory at home. As Burnt Orange Nation noted yesterday, junior guard Jase Febres was one of five players to score in double digits for the Horns, leading the way with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Despite some foul trouble in the first half, junior forward Jericho Sims added 12 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. Texas head coach Shaka Smart said during the post-game press conference, as the Longhorns prepare for the Big 12 Conference stretch of the season: “I give our guys a lot of credit. They came in the day after Christmas and really put together four very rock solid days of preparation going into this game. Now ... the competition goes way up. Conference play, the physicality of everyone involved goes way up, the intensity. So that’s something where we’re going to need our older guys ... we’re going to need them to really lead the way and set the tone for all of our younger guys. This is how you go win in conference play.”