Nothing is easy for this Texas Longhorn team. You may have
suspected that before the season. It's been reinforced throughout the season.
At the Cotton Bowl. At Kansas. At home with listless early-season wins. At home
against West Virginia.
And now, on Thanksgiving against a TCU Horned Frog team that
can't throw the football.
What should the Longhorns be thankful for? How about having
an 8-3 record despite the unimaginative performance put forth on Thursday
night, when the Horned Frogs spoiled the holiday for the Longhorns with a 20-13
win at DKR-Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns were outplayed, outsmarted and
out-intensed by the Horned Frogs from kickoff.
Despite clearly being outplayed, the Longhorns had a chance
to win late, but a Case McCoy pass into traffic was intercepted by Sam Carter
to set up victory formation, meaning the team that played best won.
All the Longhorns had to play for was a possible BCS bowl
bid, a chance to win the Big 12 championship and the joy that should come with
being the only game in town with a captive audience of millions watching on
national television. Oh, and there's also this: TCU is one of the youngest
teams in the country. Ugh.
But instead of playing with passion, the Longhorns played
the first 30 minutes in a way that almost ensures defeat at the hands of a
smart, well-coached team that is TCU. Flat.
The Longhorns opened the game by driving the length of the
field with crisp runs to Johnathan Gray, but the drive ended with a
poorly-thrown David Ash pass that was intercepted. In the second quarter, Ash
threw his second red zone interception, and lost a fumble later in the first
half deep in Texas territory. All seven of his interceptions this year have
come inside the opponents' 30 yard-line.
Ash's two picks resulted in a pair of short Matthew Tucker
touchdown runs, sandwiching a short Nick Jordan field goal that resulted in a
14-3 halftime Horned Frog advantage.
Enter McCoy, who was ineffective late in the second quarter.
Ash returned to start the second half, but the Longhorns' offense struggled
more in the third quarter, bogging down near the goal line and getting only
another Jordan field goal to cut the lead to 14-6. But the Horned Frogs
answered with a field goal of their own to make it 17-6.
The Texas defense was game - somewhat - and should be cut
at least a little slack considering that the Longhorns were playing with a
gimpy Alex Okafor, who hurt his ankle early in the game. In fact, the Longhorns
also played without Jordan Hicks (again) and Jackson Jeffcoat (again), so any
criticism of the Texas defense should include mention that the Longhorns were
playing without perhaps their three best defensive players, Kenny Vacarro
Having said all of that, the Longhorns gave up big plays to
the opponent (again) on Thursday night, often at times when the bumbling Texas
offense needed a bailout the most. It was cruel to watch TCU fool the Texas
defense time and again with the zone read, despite the fact that 100,000+ fans
knew good and well the Horned Frogs could not - and would not - throw the
Ash started the third quarter, but seemed off, bouncing some
passes and throwing behind the receivers on others. McCoy returned to the game
in the fourth quarter, when it was too little and way too late. The Longhorns
could come back against Oklahoma State and Kansas...not so much against TCU.
But before you start bashing the Texas quarterback, or even
Texas co-offensive cooridinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite, save some
of the venom for the UT offensive line: both Ash and McCoy were pounded by a
TCU defensive line that solidly whipped the Texas offensive line. This was a
scrimmage-line beat down from beginning to end.
The Horned Frogs made the task even more difficult with a
41-yard field goal with 13:06 left to play in the fourth quarter. Patterson's
team played with more urgency, more passion, more oomph. The Horned Frogs
deserved to win.
In the end, Texas simply wasn't good enough, or smart enough
- or both - to beat the Horned Frogs. For a team that has been hit hard by
injuries defensively - and that never maintained a consistency on offense
throughout the season - maybe the 8-3 record is the biggest thing of all to be
thankful for at this point.