Writer: Lucas Garza
Tom Herman’s first season as the Longhorns’ football coach was a little more difficult than expected. Before coming to Austin, he was 6-0 against ranked opponents. This season, Herman went 0-4 against ranked opponents, failing in an area that was thought to be one of his strengths. Heading into the last game of the season, the Horns were 6-5, bowl eligible, with their losses coming to ranked opponents and the learning opportunity that was the first game against Maryland.
The season didn’t seem to be a big disappointment, considering who gave Texas the losses, but then Texas Tech spoiled the Longhorns’ guarantee at a winning season. Texas had controlled the tempo and the score for the majority of the game. Their defense had dropped numerous easy interceptions, and the score was closer than it should have been. A muffed punt by Reggie Hemphill-Mapps recovered by the Raiders gave Tech some hope, but they were not able to capitalize because they missed a field goal on their gained possession. As Texas was up 23-20, the Longhorns’ offense was putting together a clock draining drive, and many fans were heading out the aisles as all Texas needed was one more first down to put the game away. Then on 3rd and 2 at the Tech 37 yard line, Sam Ehlinger threw an ill-advised interception with just 2:10 left on the clock. Two plays later, a Texas Tech touchdown gave them the 27-23 lead. There was still hope that Sam Ehlinger could lead a game winning drive since there was still 1:47 left to play. Texas was able to quickly move inside of Tech territory, but Ehlinger threw another interception with just over a minute left to give Tech the victory.
Sam Ehlinger struggled all season in late game situations and ended up costing the Longhorns three possible wins. He fumbled in overtime against Southern California, threw the interception in overtime against Oklahoma State, and then threw an interception when just trying to kill the clock against Texas Tech. He did have some shining moments at the quarterback position, and seems to be the first choice moving forward. Knowing how Tom Herman thinks he is a super secretive guy (he’s not), he will probably tell the media that whichever quarterback performs better at practice will be the starter at the bowl game, and he will probably say that during spring ball as well.
The running back situation was not a good one all season long. Chris Warren and Kyle Porter were the go-to guys at the beginning of the the season. After no performance from Porter early on, Toneil Carter got more carries alongside Warren. Warren lost his job to Daniel Young and was moved to a tight end position where he saw a little more success. At the end of the season, Young and Porter seemed to be having the most carries and most success. It is rumored that Chris Warren will be looking to transfer, but the combination of Young, Porter, and Carter could be a good force for the coming years.
The offensive line had serious injury problems. Every linemen that started the first game was injured at some point during the season. When Connor Williams returned, he had a big impact and kept Ehlinger from feeling as much pressure as he had for the majority of the season.
The receivers had an interesting year as well. There were many promotions, demotions, doghouses that a few players were in, and not too many great plays made. John Burt, the fastest receiver, was on the sideline for the first half of the season. Armanti Foreman did not play for three games in a row during the middle of the season, and his father shared his frustrations on Twitter.
The defense was the most improved part of the team. Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott led the secondary, and Poona Ford led the defensive line. Holton Hill was suspended late in the season for violating team rules, and Antwan Davis had a great end of the season.
Michael Dickson should win the Ray Guy Award for punter of the year after getting snubbed last year. His long punts were mesmerizing all season at DKR, and his sand wedge shots were spectacularly accurate. Kicker Joshua Rowland struggled a lot at the beginning of the season by missing short field goals. He didn’t miss as many in the later part of the season, and he did not miss any extra points.
It is unsure which players are leaving early for the draft or are transferring, but the Longhorns’ focus should be on their bowl game, which they must win to have a winning season.