The Texas Longhorns are back, baby. That’s what we’ve heard all offseason from Austin, Texas. Tom Herman was going to revive a dormant UT program. He was going to win big with a talented group left by the fired Charlie Strong. This group was in the best shape of its life, the team was more focused and disciplined than under the previous regime… but no, nope. That didn’t happen.
In a game where Herman had his team going up against the Maryland Terrapins, the team picked to finish second-to-last in the loaded Big Ten east, the Terps came to Austin and whipped around the Horns. The final score: Maryland 51, Texas 41. The Longhorns gave up 219 rushing yards on the afternoon.
The 51 points are the most in a head coach’s debut in program history (credit: ESPN Stats & Info).
Now if you follow college football, you know that Maryland is quietly building a solid football program under D.J. Durkin, who has recruited very well the past two classes. But this was the first-ever game for the Longhorns under their new head coach. Plus, the talent that runs up and down the Texas Longhorns roster is still miles ahead of what Maryland is working with. Instead, it was the Terps who came in more prepared, confident, and disciplined.
The Longhorns racked up 11 penalties for 117 yards and they lost the turnover battle 2-1. They were sloppy. Also, they could not even take advantage of Maryland losing its starting quarterback, Tyrrell Pigrome. It looked like that could be a turning point in the second half when Texas Longhorns were down by three points. Instead, the Terps rallied around their true freshman Kasim Hill.
Despite all the issues throughout the afternoon in Austin, Tom Herman wouldn’t admit that there are still problems with this program that can’t be fixed overnight.
In the postgame, the head coach actually cited a season-opening loss suffered by the Ohio State team he was the offensive coordinator for back in 2014.
Tom Herman mentions Virginia Tech upset of Ohio St when he was offensive coordinator in 2014 and the way Buckeyes responded with CFP title.
— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 2, 2017
Talk about out of touch.
This has all the makings of a humbling season for Herman. He’s a great offensive mind and he won some big games at Houston. But the majority of the guys he coached at UH were not recruited by him and he also ended last season unimpressively, going 3-2 down the stretch with losses to SMU and Memphis.
I’m not overreacting to one game or one loss. Herman can still turnaround this program and bring it back to being one of the best teams in the Big 12. But the idea that that was going to happen overnight was a pipe dream to begin with.
The defense had its issues last season, and it’s basically the same personnel from last season. The offense lost an NFL running back.
But the biggest concern were the penalties, especially a pair from preseason All-American left tackle Connor Williams, and lack of discipline. These are issues that Herman was expected to be able to fix when he walked in the door. He was a no-nonsense guy from the Urban Meyer tree, and these mistakes that hampered the Longhorns for years were supposed to be a thing of the past.
Instead, it simply looks as if it’s still relevant. This isn’t good for UT and it’s not good for the Big 12.
When evaluating non-conference games that the Big 12 might struggle with, I pointed to Ohio State (Oklahoma), USC (Texas), Virginia Tech (West Virginia). The Texas Longhorns opener against Maryland, where the Longhorns were an 18-point favorite, was not supposed to be one of those.
As a result, here we are, not even a full Saturday into the college football season and the Longhorns have already put the Big 12 behind the proverbial 8-ball in the hierarchy of Power 5 conferences. As bad as it is for Texas, it’s arguably worse for the conference.
That’s not a good thing.