Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9), wide receiver John Burt (1) and offensive lineman Garrett Graf (54) celebrate a 35-34 win over Baylor at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: Are the Longhorns road warriors … or just road weary?

Posted October 31st, 2016

Advertisement
Story highlights
  • Under Charlie Strong, Texas is 5-11 in road and neutral-site games.
  • Breckyn Hager looks on the bright side, notes that there will be zero humidity in Lubbock.
  • Chris Nelson wasn't wild about the country music played in Manhattan, Kan., two weeks ago and wonders about the music selection at AT&T Jones Stadium.

ANYWHERE, Tx. — This is a dangerous place for a Texas football team.

Nowhere is there a more futile exercise than when a Longhorns team shows up anywhere. Anywhere but Austin. Leave the city limits, and Texas is lost. The Longhorns’ mantra is 512-friendly.

They simply cannot win on the road.

Advertisement

Not in Berkeley. Not in Stillwater. Especially not in Manhattan.

You could only imagine the horrors if Texas were to arrive for a football contest in, say, Tuscaloosa or Ann Arbor. Yikes.

Facing Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday is tough enough although Texas teams have won five of their last six games there and are 19-10 all-time there, and the Red Raiders are very beatable with 4-4 season and 2-3 Big 12 marks that are identical to the Longhorns’.

[brightcove_video video_id=”5191844765001″]

Every week on the road is a spooky week for the Longhorns, who do start 12 sophomores and two freshmen. Through two-plus seasons, Charlie Strong’s teams are 4-7 in road games and an equally dismal 1-4 in neutral-site games. A 5-11 record away from Royal-Memorial Stadium does nothing to instill faith that the Longhorns can win Saturday.

Over that span, on the road, Texas has beaten only a diluted Baylor and its fourth-string quarterback last year and Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas — three teams that were a collective 7-20 — in away games in 2014. It doesn’t help that this is Senior Day at Tech as its final home game of the year.

But with an inspired win over No. 8 Baylor, Texas has some momentum and has four winnable games left, only two on the road. One’s against Kansas, which shows up with the frequency of Halley’s Comet.

Texas is running out of excuses as fast as it is road games to disprove the theory that it can’t win away from DKR. You’ve heard them all. The Longhorns are too young. They haven’t learned how to win. They’re too uptight. They’re too loose. They play good teams on the road. They lose their whereabouts and are disoriented. The officials don’t like them. It’s harder to kick extra points on the road. They don’t have 100,000 of their own fans rooting for them.

Charlie Strong’s noticed.

Texas Coach Charlie Strong gets a pat on the back from the Bevo mascot as he leaves the field after losing to OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Ok., on Saturday, October 01, 2016. Texas lost to OSU 49-31. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN
Texas Coach Charlie Strong gets a pat on the back from the Bevo mascot as he leaves the field after losing to OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Ok., on Saturday, October 01, 2016. Texas lost to OSU 49-31. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

After losing to California, Strong blamed his team’s travel attire. Well, sort of. Usually, the players wore suits on road trips, but he allowed warmups for that one. No more.

“Strict dress code,” said sophomore Texas defensive end Breckyn Hager.

Maybe Charlie should try cutoffs and flip-flops.

After losing to Kansas State, someone blamed the music for a lethargic atmosphere.

“I like country music,” defensive tackle Chris Nelson said, shaking his head, “but not that country they were playing.”

Expect a lot of George Strait over the AT&T Jones Stadium public address system on Saturday.

After losing to Texas Tech there two years ago, Paul Boyette was caught in the firing range.

“I got hit in the head with a battery my sophomore year,” the senior nose tackle said. “And tortillas.”

Well, tortillas are at least softer.

“Yeah,” Boyette said, “but it was frozen.”

Never take off your helmet in Lubbock.

More than half the roster has never set foot for a game at Texas Tech. But Hager’s done his research for his teammates.

“I’ll remind them there’s no humidity out there,” he said, “so that will be good.”

Hager will likely apologize before kickoff to any Lubbock meteorologists who might be offended by that.

So what are some other helpful suggestions for Charlie?

  • Go early. Leave for Lubbock now, Charlie. Train in Post. Soak up the West Texas atmosphere. Check out the Buddy Holly statue. Mingle with farmers.
  • Throw tortillas back at the fans. They’ll come right back, but beat ‘em to the punch.
  • Run the ball every single play. Texas Tech ranks 104th nationally in rush defense, and if D’Onta Foreman has the ball, that means Pat Mahomes doesn’t.
  • Play rap music. Tech fans will be so disoriented, they’ll vote for Hillary.
  • Recreate the DKR locker room at AT&T Jones Stadium.
  • Ask Kliff Kingsbury about his hair and distract him from his play-calling.
  • Pretend you’ve never heard the name Michael Crabtree.

Or just play better. That’d be the best recommendation of all, humidity or no humidity.

Comments