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Something wicked this way comes from Fort Worth; Texas faces scary past with TCU

Posted October 30th, 2017

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If anyone in West Lake Hills opens their door Tuesday night to find a 42-year-old wearing a burnt orange costume, just know he’s got particular tastes.

“I’m a Milky Way guy,” Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday. “I love caramel and nougat.”

Halloween conjures up all sorts of scary thoughts for those young and young at heart.

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“The scariest movie by far for me was ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes,’” Herman said. “It was a Disney movie, I believe, about this carnival guy. I don’t know if he’s the devil reincarnate or something, but that movie growing up, even to this day, you throw that movie on right now, and I’m probably not watching it.”

Wanna see something really scary? Turn on the game film from any of the last three Texas-TCU games. The Horned Frogs are 3-0 and won all three by a combined score of 129-26. The 2015 game alone was over in 15 purple, pulse-pounding minutes.

Talk about stranger things. It’s UT’s first three-game losing streak in this series since a four-game skid in the mid-1930s. The Longhorns (4-4, 3-2 Big 12) head back to Fort Worth this week to face their demons against yet another top-10 foe.

The Frogs (7-1, 4-1) are still ranked 10th in the Associated Press Top 10 poll despite losing to Iowa State last Saturday.

Asked if he would re-rack the fright fest from the last three years, Herman said, “No, I don’t think any of that’s important.

“Every team is unique. Every season is unique,” Herman said. “I think there is some added motivation for the guys that have been on this team for a while, the juniors and seniors, that they’ve been embarrassed by this team and they don’t want to be embarrassed again.”

In 2014, TCU’s Josh Doctson went wild, catching seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in the Frogs’ 48-10 win.

The next year, kickoff came at 11 a.m. in Fort Worth. That meant pre-dawn wake-up calls for former coach Charlie Strong’s crew. KaVontae Turpin caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. A snap sailed over UT punter Michael Dickson’s head for a safety. Doctson scored from 15 yards out. Turpin scored on a 49-yard catch. Doctson scored from 29 yards out.

Boom, game over. TCU led 30-0 with 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter and cruised to a 50-7 finish.

Former Texas coach Charlie Strong didn’t have many answers after TCU cruised to a stunning 50-7 win over the Longhorns in 2015. Ricardo B. Brazziel/American-Statesman

Last season, Strong still had a slim chance to keep his job with a solid performance in the regular-season finale. But TCU pieced together a methodical 31-9 victory that included 24 points after halftime. Strong was removed the next morning.

“I think it helps offensively and defensively to look at least last year’s (film) because some of the personnel will be similar to what you’re playing with or playing against,” Herman said.

Herman didn’t offer much insight into his quarterback personnel during his Monday press gathering. Freshman Sam Ehlinger, who spent last week in concussion protocol, was medically cleared to get back to work. Both he and center Zach Shackelford went through Sunday’s light workout and will practice again Tuesday. The players have Mondays off.

Sophomore Shane Buechele is likely to stay with the first-team unit after his display against Baylor last weekend. He threw for 256 yards and ran for 42 more in UT’s 38-7 win. If Buechele is still bothered by a right ankle injury, it wasn’t readily apparent.

“We don’t have to name a starting quarterback,” Herman said. “Unless college football has gone to the NFL, we don’t have to say anything about our depth chart.”

Also on the injury front, Herman said nickel back P.J. Locke III was “very doubtful” for the TCU game. He left McLane Stadium last Saturday on crutches while wearing a protective boot. He was in the same predicament while getting onto an elevator inside Bellmont Hall on Monday.

Running back Toniel Carter (concussion) is also being evaluated by team doctors. On a positive note, Herman said left tackle Connor Williams could possibly return next week from a knee injury suffered against USC on Sept. 16, though he added that the following week might be more realistic.

Herman said he would not spend much time this week talking with players about the Big 12 standings. The Longhorns are still alive in the conference championship race now that every team has at least one loss.

It’s unclear who would hold what tiebreakers should there be multiple one- or two-loss teams. But Texas can’t even be in the conversation without a strong November finish.

“I’ve made that mistake before,” Herman said, referring to his Houston days when he likely put the cart before the horse. “So I’m not going to let that happen again.”

Losing again to TCU is scary enough.

“I think the biggest thing that we’ve got to concern ourselves with right now is playing against one of, if not the best team, in our conference,” Herman said.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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