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Texas’ defensive woes continue in last-second win over Texas Tech

After impressing throughout three quarters, Texas’ defense collapsed late, allowing Texas Tech to total nearly 600 yards of offense.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s Michael Crabtree-esque, game-winning touchdown grab, in which the Texas Longhorns budding star broke free along on the same sideline, and fell into the same end zone in eerily similar fashion to spoil Texas Tech’s Senior Night will undeniably steal the headlines, and understandably so.

However, the fact of the matter is Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s Michael Crabtree-esque, game-winning touchdown grab with just 21 ticks to play shouldn’t have been necessary.

The fact of the matter is Texas owned a 27-10 lead entering the fourth quarter and the outcome was seemingly set in stone, as evident by fans filling for the exits en masse. Yet, rather than Texas taking complete control and cruising to the finish line with a comfortable cushion, the Longhorns defense imploded.

Fresh off of what was then, statistically speaking, the worst two-game stretch of the Todd Orlando era, as Texas allowed Oklahoma State and West Virginia to amass 1,080 yards of total offense, the Longhorns looked largely improved against Texas Tech; at least throughout the first three quarters. To that point, Texas limited Texas Tech to just 326 yards of offense, 10 points — only three since the opening drive — and forced a trio of key turnovers along the way. Once the final session started, however, the Red Raiders ran wild.

Beginning with a quick three-play, 63-yard touchdown strike, which saw Jett Duffey connect with star receiver Antoine Wesley for a 57-yard score on a free play after Texas jumped offsides, Texas Tech poured on 269 yards and 24 points in the fourth quarter, alone, eventually tying the game at 34-34 with 1:45 to play. A free play plagued Texas yet again on what ultimately ended as that game-tying drive, as Duffey found Wesley for a 47-yard chunk play on the first play of the drive.

Five plays later, Wesley was in the end zone.

Of course, this time around, these continuous defensive woes likely won’t suffer the same kind of scrutiny that came after the recent losses, courtesy of Sam Ehlinger and Humphrey’s heroics, but it’s a major issue, nevertheless.

What was then the worst-two game stretch of the Orlando era against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, with Texas sacrificing 578 yards to the Mountaineers marking the worst effort under Orlando’s guidance, now has a new low just one week later. On Saturday night, the Longhorns allowed Texas Tech to total 595 yards of offense, which replaces West Virginia as the single worst showing under Orlando, and the 1,173 yards allowed to the Mountaineers and Red Raiders replaces Oklahoma State-West Virginia as the worst two-game stretch in the past two seasons.

When the win over Oklahoma is taken into account, Texas’ defense has now given way to 500-plus yards four times in their last five games.

Though Texas was ultimately able to snap its losing skid behind the offense’s second 41-point showing in as many tries, the Horns needed every bit of those 41 points because the defense is yet to snap out of its own slump.

Yes, injuries and suspensions have been prevalent, which has been partially to blame for such porous performances, but so, too, has penalties, missed tackles, blown coverage assignments, and the general inability to get off the field when the opportunities present themselves. When this multitude of problems is packaged together, the result has been Texas being torched for 1,675 yards and 114 points throughout the worst three-game stretch of Orlando’s tenure, and of course, two losses that knocked Texas from the College Football Playoff picture and out of the Big 12 driver’s seat in back-to-back weeks.

While on paper, being pitted against potent offenses now appears to be in the past, No. 22 Iowa State will soon arrive in Austin riding a five-game winning streak in which the Cyclones are pouring on 34.6 points per contest; a stretch sparked by a 48-point onslaught in a win over the Pokes.

When that time comes, at 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, if Texas’ defense continues to look anything like it has of late, Iowa State’s offense may soon enjoy as much, if not more success than it has of late.