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Texas suffers major regression in 48-10 loss to TCU

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So much for spoiling the dream season for the Horned Frogs.

Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Within the first 15 minutes of the Thanksgiving game against the TCU Horned Frogs on Thursday night, the Texas Longhorns had already lost it.

Sure, the scoreboard only read 13-0 when the first quarter expired, but the TCU defensive line front had already served notice that it wasn't going to give up the yardage between the tackles that the previous three Texas opponents had given up.

The Longhorns special teams had already made a huge mistake, as explosive Horned Frogs punt return Cameron Echols-Luper took the opening punt of the game back 53 yards to set up a TCU field goal.

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had already thrown a bad interception that resulted in the second field goal for the visitors. And then fumbled while scrambling out of the pocket, a ball that was picked up by TCU defensive tackle Terrell Lathan and returned 40 yards for a touchdown.

So the 13-0 lead might as well have been 30-0 -- any margin for error for the Longhorns was completely shot, and the team in general seemed to regress to the same feeble group that failed to show in Manhattan last month.

The start heralded a terrible night overall for the Longhorns and a terrible night for the young quarterback, who continued his trend of taking one step forward and two or more steps back.

But Swoopes wasn't the only culprit on the night, despite his five turnovers.

The Texas defensive backs struggled coming up with interceptions, with no drop bigger than one by senior cornerback Quandre Diggs in the fourth quarter after the Longhorns had finally scored a touchdown and still had an outside chance in the game at 27-10.

The drop led to Diggs having the ensuing punt hit off of his foot, a ball eventually recovered by the Horned Frogs and converted into a touchdown three plays later to put the game out of reach. Texas had to get more from the senior leader and did not.

In attempting to go up against 6'4 wide receiver Josh Doctson, Diggs had one of the worst games of his career, allowing a 38-yard reception to Docston on a jump ball in the second quarter that set up a goal-to-go situation for TCU that was also converted to take a 20-3 lead into halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin put another pass up for grabs in the end zone and Doctson came down with the 22-yard catch, boxing out Diggs and then elevating over him. Simple domination of an overmatched opponent.

Doctson finished with seven catches for 117 yards and the touchdown, while Boykin added a rushing touchdown to a modest day through the air -- the improved passer completed 20 of 34 passes for 233 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Still, it was a much better performance than the one turned in by his younger counterpart.

After that step forward against Oklahoma State in the last game, Swoopes completely melted down and once again raised questions about his future with a putrid performance capped off by his fourth interception late in the game when a swing pass was picked off by TCU defensive end Josh Carraway and returned 33 yards for a touchdown.

It was a fitting cap for a night that Swoopes would rather forget and Texas fans likely will not -- he finished 20 of 34 for 200 yards and a touchdown, but also had the four crippling interceptions and the fumble that was returned for the first TCU touchdown.

Of course, Swoopes didn't receive much help from an offensive line that struggled in the man and gap schemes that had been successful and didn't do much better in the zone/zone read game, though Swoopes did have several big plays on the ground, several on scrambles and some on called runs.

But other than a 73-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman on a bubble screen in which two TCU cornerbacks lost leverage to allow Foreman the sideline, the Texas offense struggled mightily in producing only 290 total yards.

Between penalties and sacks and other tackles for loss, the Longhorns were behind the chains all day, with senior running back Malcolm Brown gaining only 29 yards on 10 carries and junior running back Johnathan Gray managing zero yards on 11 carries.

It was the fourth home loss this season for Texas of 21 or more points, destroying the momentum built over the previous three games.

The offense looked dysfunctional again as Foreman and especially junior wide receiver Daje Johnson were missing when the game was somewhat in doubt and the seniors suffered another blow, especially with the poor performance from Diggs.

And the defense simply wasn't able to hold as the Horned Frogs had an average starting field position of the 50-yard line.

All credit to TCU, which was a much better football team in all three phases, but the words of head coach Charlie Strong still ring strong -- this wasn't about what the Horned Frogs did, it was about what the Longhorns didn't do.

Once again, Strong was left in the post game talking about how the Longhorns were a better football team than they had showed on the evening.

Once again.

Disheartening.