The Tom Herman era at Texas started explosively, just not in the way fans hoped or expected.
After touting cultural changes in the offseason, the Charlie Strong-era problems seemed to plague the Longhorns in all three phases of the game. Big plays and drive-killing penalties continued to cost Texas, leading to a 51-41 loss at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins.
Statistically, the two teams ended the day evenly, with only 10 yards separating them in total offense, but these back-breaking plays allowed the Terps to take an early lead and hold onto it.
Until the third quarter, the shortest scoring play for either team was a 20-yard pass from Tyrrell Pigrome to DJ Moore to put Maryland ahead for the first time. Two plays earlier, Ty Johnson broke off a 50-yard run to start the Maryland drive, which came immediately after a Texas missed field goal.
By the end of the game, Maryland’s scoring plays made up 146 of their 482 yards on offense, more than 30 percent of the Terrapins’ offensive production. Add to that a 71-yard special teams touchdown from a blocked field goal and Maryland’s scoring plays racked up 217 yards total.
It wasn’t just the scoring plays that propelled the Maryland offense — the Terrapins regularly cracked off big plays against the Texas defense, and by the end of the game the Terrapins averaged 8.3 yards per play and a whopping 14.6 yards per completion.
The Longhorns were able to create some big plays of their own, including Shane Buechele touchdown passes of 32 and 33 yards in the second half, showing some spark in an otherwise underwhelming offensive performance.
In the running game, however, Texas had only one run longer than 15 yards, a 21-yard effort from former high school running back Lil’Jordan Humphrey in a Wildcat package. Overall, the ‘Horns only gained 98 yards on 31 carries.
Defensively, Texas cornerback Holton Hill showed off his big-play abilities, with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 65-yard scoop and score from a Poona Ford blocked field goal.
Texas will hopefully find its rhythm against San Jose State, which is coming off of a 20-point loss to Charlie Strong’s South Florida Bulls. If the Longhorns don’t manage to clean it up against the Spartans, they face an uphill battle with Southern California, Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma in the four games following.
To win those games, the offense will need to create more explosive plays while the defense and special teams limit major mistakes.
After the unexpected loss to Maryland, that’s a major concern.