Big 12 play hasn’t been kind to the Texas Longhorns (2-2, 1-2).
Tom Herman’s program is 1-2 in league action with the only win coming by way of a miraculous late comeback — and that was before Texas proceeded to lost to TCU, then lose to Oklahoma. Fortunately for Texas, the Big 12 appears to be on its way to a wide open race throughout the second half of the season, and with some much-needed improvements — and some luck — the Longhorns can scrap their way back into the thick of things.
But that all goes away and a disappointing season becomes guaranteed if Texas doesn’t take care of business on Saturday with the Baylor Bears (1-1, 1-1) in town.
The BON staff got together to discuss the most notable areas of improvement for Texas and how the Horns can get back into the win column on Saturday.
The last three Texas appearances have been an improbable comeback win and back-to-back losses to TCU and OU. What are the most glaring issues that have led to the early struggles?
Cody Daniel — The offensive line play has been poor, at best, which has plagued the offense as a whole and led to costly droughts. And though we’ve seen flashes from receivers, it’s clear that Ehlinger hasn’t established a consistent rhythm with anyone just yet, and thanks in large part to the offensive line’s woes, Texas’ ground game hasn’t looked the part yet. It’s just a bunch of weapons not being utilized well. And then, of course, Texas can’t get out of its own way with countless penalties and turnovers to end the TCU and OU games.
Gerald Goodridge — Texas has absolutely sucked on both sides of the ball in the third quarter. The Longhorns have been outscored 42-17 in the third frame, including a 14-0 shutout against the Oklahoma Sooners. The offense has not done many favors for the defense in that frame; Texas has just three third-quarter drives that went more than four plays for the entire season, including three consecutive three-and-outs against OU.
Daniel Seahorn — Offensive inconsistencies and penalties seem to be the most glaring issues for me. The offense has the ability to score a lot of points, but it also has tendencies to hit lulls in different points of the game before coming alive late. The team also continues to shoot itself in the foot with untimely penalties and those will get you beat more times than none.
Despite the back-to-back losses, the Big 12 remains fairly wide open at this point. How confident are you that Texas can turn its season around and rejoin the Big 12 title race?
Cody — I think Texas will prove to be better than they’ve played thus far, but I also don’t think they’ll look the part of that top 10 team they were just weeks ago. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Texas does string together some wins to finish on the season on a high note, but No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Iowa State, and No. 20 Kansas State all still remain. If I were a betting man, I’d bet Texas drops at least one, if not two more games.
Gerald — It’s a weird sport because everything that plagues Texas is infinitely fixable, but I don’t know if the coaching staff has it in them to do it. I think the issues along the OL are probably the ones with the greatest immediate impact, so for me it rests on Herb Hand and his unit. I think Texas likely drops one more game, which will be the death knell for the season.
Seahorn — This team is lucky to not be 0-3 in conference right now, so I’m not very confident that they will right the ship and get to Dallas at the end of the year.
Due to COVID-19 issues, Baylor has played just two games thus far, beating KU and falling to WVU in OT. How much of an advantage is Baylor’s time away from the field for Texas, if at all?
Cody — I think it definitely helps because Baylor has largely be unable to establish any sort of rhythm to its season, and we’ve seen two different Baylor teams early on. I think Dave Aranda’s squad isn’t quite sure who they are just yet.
Gerald — Football is a game of rhythm and timing, which both come from repetition. Having to start and stop your practice schedule so frequently should put you at a disadvantage in most situations from a continuity standpoint. Let’s hope Texas can manage to exploit that.
Seahorn — I think it can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Baylor having limited games and practice times could certainly lead to a sluggish performance on Saturday, but at the same time it gives Texas limited tape to go off of heading into the game. With Baylor in the first year of a new staff that could give them some element of surprise come game time.
From the two games Baylor has played, what evident weaknesses can Texas capitalize on?
Cody — I don’t trust Baylor’s offense just yet. No Denzel Mims means they’re without that key playmaker, and Charlie Brewer still doesn’t look the part of the potential star he once could have been. Texas will likely help BU’s offense on a drive or two with some costly penalties, but if not, I don’t think the Bears can keep pace with Texas outright.
Gerald — Make Charlie Brewer beat you deep. There are still questions about his arm strength and Denzel Mims isn’t there anymore.
Seahorn — Denzel Mims graduating last year means Baylor lacks a big play weapon in the passing game. Texas should be able to limit big plays down the field and make Baylor have to nickel and dime it their way down the field. On top of that, Baylor’s cohesiveness and execution may not be as crisp due to the issues they have been battling over the past several weeks.
On the other hand, what about this Baylor team causes concern that Texas could be headed for a third straight loss?
Cody — John Lovett and Tresten Ebner are plenty capable out of the backfield, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Brewer rediscovers himself a bit to help Baylor’s offense establish some effective balance. If they do enough to score into the 30s, Texas could be in trouble.
Gerald — If Brewer can’t get things going long, Baylor may resort to short, over-the-middle passing that would potentially exploit weaknesses at linebacker.
Seahorn — Baylor using its running backs and intermediate passing game to exploit the Texas linebackers. If Brewer and company get clicking early it could be another rough afternoon.
Prediction time: Does Texas bounce back and notch its first win in nearly a month?
Cody — Texas bounces back, 38-21.
Gerald — I’ve got Texas 35-21
Seahorn — I’ll say Texas in a close one 28-24. Herman has had an extra week to prep and they know a third straight conference loss basically shuts the door on any postseason aspirations.