Texas manages just 204 total yards on a chilly night against inspired Iowa State
Posted October 31st, 2015
AMES, Iowa — The look on Charlie Strong’s face said it all after Iowa State simply pounded his Texas team on a chilly Saturday night and captured a 24-0 win at Jack Trice Stadium.
What was that?
“I would’ve thought we were taking steps forward, and then this is just a step backward,” the Longhorns coach said. “I always say to (the players), I just want to see the same team I saw in Dallas that day.”
The euphoria from the Oklahoma win and good vibes from the soggy Kansas State victory are distant memories now. Did the Longhorns, not exactly world-beaters themselves, take the Cyclones too lightly? Did they not practice hard enough? Were they not prepared? Was it Jay Norvell’s play-calling? The quarterbacks? The defense?
“You can’t turn it on in a game,” guard Sedrick Flowers said. “We’ve heard it all week. How you practice is how you play. I don’t know if guys took that to heart.”
This was Iowa State’s homecoming game, cornerback Duke Thomas noted. How could anyone not be ready? “When the lights come on, we’ve got to turn it on, and we didn’t make it happen today,” he said.
Whatever it was, here’s the sobering reality: Texas is now in serious danger of finishing with a losing record and missing a bowl game, an incredibly damaging proposition for Strong in the second year of his rebuilding effort.
The Longhorns are 3-5 with four games remaining. They must finish at least 6-6 to reach the postseason. It’s possible UT will be favored next Saturday against lowly Kansas. But the Horns will likely be underdogs the rest of the way simply because of their anemic offense, which managed only 204 yards.
Texas had seven three-and-outs and converted only two of 13 third down opportunities.
“We certainly have been playing with a real competitive edge, and we didn’t quite have that edge tonight,” Norvell said. “So the result was really poor execution.”
Norvell used both Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes, but the pair combined to complete 12 of 22 passes for only 85 yards. Andrew Beck made the biggest catch of the day, a 22-yarder on the game’s final drive when the game was long over.
Texas had only one offensive snap inside Iowa State territory through the first three quarters. From the Iowa State 47, Heard rolled to his right and threw an ill-advised ball that made for an easy interception.
Swoopes got the Horns to the Iowa State 5-yard line in the final seconds. The final play encapsulated the entire night. Marcus Johnson went up to catch a potential touchdown pass, only to drop the ball when he landed hard on the pristine, well-manicured grass.
Texas has been shut out only twice since 2004. Both shutouts came on Strong’s watch — this game and the 23-0 debacle at Kansas State last season.
Since Texas wouldn’t or couldn’t throw, it was all too easy for Iowa State’s defense to pack the line of scrimmage. Johnathan Gray led all Longhorns running backs with 23 yards. The longest run of the day was Swoopes’ 13-yard scramble.
“I thought guys were focused,” Gray said. “We just went out there on the field and laid an egg.”
Center Taylor Doyle said, “Kudos to them. They played a great game. But we need to be able to go out there and run the ball consistently and execute.”
To understand how bad this really is, consider what Iowa State has been going through. Coach Paul Rhoads is fighting to save his job. He fired offensive coordinator Mark Mangino on Monday and inserted a new play-caller and quarterback.
Sophomore Joel Lanning threw some balls into the turf and missed open receivers at times. But he completed 19 of 37 passes for 188 yards and threw a terrific 19-yard touchdown pass to Dondre Daley. Lanning was confused at times, and Texas still had six sacks.
But Lanning really didn’t have to do much with Mike Warren, one of the best freshmen running backs around, running wild. Warren sliced and diced his way through open space, piling up 157 yards on 32 carries and scoring once from 3 yards out.
“It was awesome,” Lanning said.
Over in the other locker room, the mood was decidedly different.
What if there’s nothing wrong with the scheme? Or the coaching or play-calling? What if this was simply a matter of Texas not showing up ready to play?
“It’s college football, man,” defensive end Bryce Cottrell said. “Everyone’s going to be physical week in and week out. You can’t take anything away from those guys. They did a great job.”
[brightcove_video video_id=”4589771792001″ caption=”Sports writer Brian Davis speaks on the Longhorns’ 24-0 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones. ” alignment=”center”]