Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) during the first half of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game against Utah in San Antonio, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Austin Gay)

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: 2019-20 — a year of Texas Longhorns highs, lows and incompletes

Posted June 6th, 2020

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While the Longhorns’ athletic year was incomplete, our annual review is not.

Even though the seasons of 10 Texas sports teams were abruptly halted in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, here is a look back at some of the highs and lows and in-betweens.

Get out your No. 2 pencil and play along.

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1. The biggest moment of the Longhorn sports year was:

(a) The win over Utah in the Alamo Bowl

(b) The basketball team’s five-game win streak

(c) The basketball team’s win streak-snapping loss in finale

(d) A near-win over LSU in September

(e) Firing of seven football assistants

Answer: (e) Tom Herman’s stunning makeover of his staff represents the key to his next few seasons.

2. The best Texas athlete was:

(a) Sam Ehlinger

(b) Micaya White

(c) Bryce Elder

(d) Jericho Sims

(e) Devin Duvernay

Answer: (e) As good as Ehlinger was, Duvernay was more consistent and leaves as the third-best receiver in school history behind only Roy Williams and Jordan Shipley. Jones, as a cancer survivor and good scorer, was by far the most inspiring UT athlete of the year, and White left her mark as a four-time volleyball All-American.

3. Texas’ coach of the year was:

(a) Jerritt Elliott

(b) Mike White

(c) Eddie Reese

(d) Matt Scoggin

(e) Ryan Murphy

Answer: (c) Eddie sets the standard, had the nation’s No. 1-ranked men’s swimming team and 24 qualifiers for the canceled NCAA championships. Runner-up is Scoggin, the unanimous Big 12 diving coach of the year, an award he’s won 15 times.

4. The biggest disappointment of the year was:

(a) The football loss to LSU

(b) Texas women’s hoops vs. Baylor in Waco

(c) Texas womens hoops vs. Baylor in Austin

(d) Texas men’s home finale against Oklahoma State

(e) Texas-Baylor football.

Answer: (d) Although an upset of LSU would have set off Herman’s program, a win over the Cowboys would have given Shaka Smart so much more momentum for next season, but the Horns were never in it and lost by 22. Hello, NCAA bubble.

5. The most moving moment of the year was:

(a) Andrew Jones’ return from cancer

(b) Tom Herman’s $60,000 donation to Austin non-profits

(c) Sam Ehlinger’s GoFundMe campaign to help coronavirus victims

(d) Announcement of Cat Osterman’s jersey retirement

(e) The football team’s march to the Capitol to honor police victim George Floyd

Answer: Tie between (a) and (e) Both emotional scenes brought tears to the eyes and stand as tributes to courage and resolve to make for a better America.

6. The best decision a Texas coach made was:

(a) Moving linebacker Joseph Ossai to defensive end in the bowl game

(b) Inserting energizer Brock Cunningham into the starting lineup

(c) Turning quarterback Roschon Johnson into a running back

(d) Hiring Troy Tulowitzki as volunteer baseball coach

(e) Not scheduling Maryland in football

Answer: (a) Interim defensive coordinator Craig Naivar’s switch ignited Ossai, next year’s Big 12 defensive player of the year.

7. The worst coaching decision was:

(a) Leaving Joseph Ossai at linebacker all season

(b) Not moving Courtney Ramey to point guard earlier

(c) Forgetting to pass in the first half against Iowa State

(d) Tom Herman head-butting players before the Baylor game

(d) Letting Will Baker keep shooting threes

Answer: (a) See No. 6, although Herman’s theatrics were very entertaining.

8. The freshman of the year was:

(a) running back Roschon Johnson

(b) guard Celeste Taylor

(c) golfer Sophie Guo

(d) pitcher Pete Hansen

(e) outside hitter Skylar Fields

Answer: (a) Johnson saved Texas’ bacon after injuries wiped out running back depth, and Fields was the Big 12 freshman of the year, but Guo killed it as an All-American who finished the year as the nation’s No. 6-ranked golfer.

9. Next year’s freshman of the year will be:

(a) defensive end Alfred Collins

(b) small forward Greg Brown III

(c) golfer Bentley Cotton

(d) backstroker Carson Foster

(e) flier Olivia Bray

Answer: (b) Brown’s stay may be short but impactful as the prolific Vandegrift star and the surging Jericho Sims and sophomore-to-be Kai Jones give Texas front court depth and versatility.

10. The likely overall Longhorns MVP for 2020-21 school year will be:

(a) pitcher Bryce Elder — if he returns

(b) post player Charli Collier

(c) quarterback/team conscience Sam Ehlinger

(d) center Jericho Sims

(e) golfer Kaitlyn Papp

(f) golfer Cole Hammer

(g) volleyballer Logan Eggleston

(h) pitcher Miranda Elish

Answer: (c) It had better be Ehlinger, the best returning player in the Big 12, if the football team is to do anything.

11. The best coach who was fired or left was:

(a) Karen Aston

(b) Todd Orlando

(c) Craig Naivar

(d) Jason Washington

(e) Luke Yaklich

Answer: (a) Aston. We loved her tenacity and her personality and wish her well.

12. The best coach who was hired was:

(a) defensive coordinator Chris Ash

(b) offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich

(c) women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer

(d) softball hitting coach Steve Singleton

(e) special teams coach Jay Boulware

Answer: (c) I’ll be shocked if Schaefer doesn’t have Texas in a Final Four in three years.

13. The most promising athlete was:

(a) return man D’Shawn Jamison

(b) closer/third baseman Andre Duplantier II

(c) volleyballer Asjia O’Neal

(d) quartermiler Jonathan Jones

(e) post man Royce Hamm Jr.

Answer: (b) Duplantier is so versatile he could be used in a variety of roles, much like outfielder Doug Hodo III.

14. The biggest off-field news was:

(a) Groundbreaking of Moody Center

(b) Selling of margaritas at the Drum

(c) Austin Todd’s haul of redfish at the coast.

(d) Cole Hammer’s trick golf shot skipping off his backyard pool into the cup on putting green.

(e) Firing of Karen Aston

Answer: (a) The new 10,000-seat home scheduled to be done by January 2022 should be a more intimate setting for Austin’s hoop-crazy, uh, yeah, fans.

15. The absence of this person will be missed the most:

(a) Luke Yaklich to Illinois-Chicago

(b) Graduation of Devin Duvernay

(c) Graduation of Bianca Turatti

(d) Spencer Soosman turning pro

(e) Brandon Jones’ classiness.

Answer: (b) Duvernay cannot be replaced. He was that big a stud.

16. Texas’ biggest deficiency was the:

(a) Lack of a third starting pitcher in baseball

(b) Forgetting to pass versus Iowa State

(c) Inability to develop a pass rush

(d) Lack of an offensive hoops identity

(e) The volleyball’s uptightness

Answer: (D) We’re still waiting, Shaka. This has to be the year, right?

17. The best performance by a Longhorns opponent was:

(a) Kansas running back Pooka Williams, who ran for 190 yards

(b) Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who could not be tackled

(c) Kim Mulkey, who refuses to lose to Texas

(d) Anyone wearing a West Virginia uniform in the Mountaineers’ 97-59 bludgeoning of Texas

(e) LSU’s Mr. Everything Joe Burrow, who will make Texas fans cringe every time they hear third-and-17

Answer: (e) 2019 belonged to Burrow.

18. The worst game of the year was:

(a) Texas’ 22-point debacle versus Oklahoma State in home hoops finale

(b) Texas football loss to Baylor

(c) Texas’ football loss to Iowa State

(d) Pick any women’s hoops loss to Baylor

(e) The West Virginia debacle from above

Answer: (a) May have eliminated a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

19. The biggest near-miss was:

(a) Collin Johnson’s inability to corral the onside kick against LSU

(b) Todd Orlando’s horribly timed blitzes

(c) Volleyball’s five-set loss to Louisville in regional semis

(d) Two-point men’s basketball loss to LSU

(e) Four-star defensive end Van Fillinger, who decommitted to sign with Utah

Answer: (c) Elliott’s team was ranked No. 2 at the time and could have claimed his second national championship.

20. Texas’ next national championship in 2020-21 will come in:

(a) baseball

(b) swimming. Duh?

(c) volleyball

(d) women’s golf

(e) softball

Answer: (e) Mike White’s got it going. His softball team finished No. 1 in the country, went 24-3, beat No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Washington on consecutive nights and led the nation in hitting with a .376 team average. 

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