Bohls: Texas is dealt another numbing loss, and Baylor has turned the season south
- This game boiled down to creative and confidence, maybe even competence, and Baylor had more of it.
- The three-game losing streak has dropped Texas' season record to a disappointing 4-4.
- "You never want to lose," running back Bijan Robinson said. "They all suck."
WACO — Season over.
You can put a fork in the Texas Longhorns.
And a knife and a spoon and any other cutlery you’d care to use — even a spatula — because this football team is done. Finished. Waxed in Waco.
No matter what the schedule says, the last four games will merely be window dressing as Texas (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) continues to drain hope from its fan base.
No. 18 Baylor (7-1, 4-1) effectively finished off the Longhorns’ season with yet another Texas collapse in the second half. This team cannot get out of its own way and stumbled yet again in a mystifying loss on a cloudless Saturday afternoon at McLane Stadium.
It’s become Texas’ MO, which is not to be confused with any Texas Mo-mentum. The Longhorns have none of that.
“You never want to lose,” star running back Bijan Robinson said. “They all suck.”
This one didn’t suck any more than the consecutive blown games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. It’s just the most recent. If you’d like a morsel of positivity, you can brag that at least Texas is losing close games to good teams. Not great teams, mind you, but good ones. They lost all three by a touchdown and once again melted down in the fourth quarter.
But Longhorn Nation won’t be in search of silver linings or even bronze or pewter ones because this team, which was once ranked 15th nationally with a three-game winning streak, albeit against bad teams, is now saddled with three straight losses for the first time since Charlie Strong's final season in 2016. Texas hasn't dropped four in a row since Mack Brown’s 5-7 debacle in 2010.
The setback leaves the Longhorns with so many more questions than answers.
Hey, maybe there’s still time to get bowl-eligible with six wins, but even that is far from a certainty. And does anyone really care?
This one might just have boiled down to creativity and confidence. Add competence to that.
This Texas-Baylor game had it in spades, but all those qualities were evident in the Bears, who played cleanly (incredibly, only one penalty for 10 yards with seven minutes to play), efficiently and smartly. They rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit and scored 21 unanswered points. Why? Because the Longhorns had no answers, and that falls clearly on Steve Sarkisian and his staff, who are trending toward an F grade for the season if this pattern continues. On Saturday, Texas managed 10 points on its final nine series.
“I don’t know if it’s we don’t have confidence,” Sarkisian said. “Football throws adversity at you in every way, shape, color or size, whether it’s injuries or turnovers or a call that doesn’t go your way. But I think this group is plenty talented enough not to get frazzled. One of these weeks we’re going to get over the hump, and once we do, we’ll be a dangerous team.”
Who knows what week that will be. Maybe in March.
Texas obviously got outcoached and outplayed. Would any observer argue otherwise?
Consider some of the imaginative plays that 45,834 witnessed:
A reverse and pass from a wide receiver to another wide receiver.
A jet sweep for a touchdown from the tight end.
A pop pass by the quarterback.
And those were just from the Bears.
Make no mistake about it: Dave Aranda coached the pants off Sarkisian. And to think, Aranda’s a defensive-minded coach who made his bones on that side of the ball during LSU’s national championship run in 2019.
Aranda and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, borrowed from BYU, opened up the playbook to score one of Baylor’s biggest victories of the year in what could be Texas’ final game at McLane, depending on the Horns' SEC itinerary.
So who’s the real genius here?
Sarkisian, crowned as the best play-caller in America by nearly everyone, flubbed another one. Besides the final score, there were botched plays such as a delay of game penalty after a kickoff and the usual false start and no pass rush.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” Sarkisian said. “I feel frustrated for our team. We had chances to open up the game, but we didn’t get it. And they made some critical plays at critical times."
Oh, Texas had its own share of creativity, not that it was successful.
Oh, the Horns had an end-around of their own with seldom-used tight end Juan Davis, but Baylor’s went for a 1-yard score by Ben Sims to bring the Bears within three points early in the fourth quarter. And Sark did have another trick up his sleeve, but it was a head-scratching fake punt on fourth-and-11 by Cameron Dicker, who didn’t have a flicker of a chance and went nowhere in one of the worst gambles ever.
Sarkisian called it a run-pass option but admitted he should have checked out of it on the big fourth-and-11 failure when he saw the coverage. “But that’s hindsight,” he said.
So are big wins over Group of Five Louisiana, punchless Rice, a Texas Tech team that just fired its coach and struggling TCU. Otherwise, the defense still retreats against the run — Baylor ran wild with 199 yards on the ground, including 113 from former linebacker Abram Smith — and rarely makes big stops.
“They’ve got good coaches,” Texas nose tackle Keondre Coburn said of the Bears. “A lot of their runs, we had missed tackles or not pursuing the run like we should be.”
Texas recruiting notebook:What kind of offensive linemen will UT eye under Sarkisian?
Lots of losses.
Lots of excuses.
Lots of failures.
Like Casey Thompson’s overthrow and interception, one that ricocheted off Joshua Moore’s hands. The junior quarterback, who also misfired and badly overthrew a wide open Xavier Worthy for an easy touchdown, has now had at least one pick in five of his six starts and three interceptions in the past two games. That’s not winning football, but it's hardly been his fault as much as he's been under duress.
Like Moore and Marcus Washington, neither of whom could secure catches for a touchdown or a long gain that might have set up a score. Moore also had a fumble after a nice gain.
“Just a lack of focus by those guys,” Robinson said. “They just got to lock in and catch those passes.”
Like a subpar offensive line that opened up zero daylight for Robinson and clearly killed any faint Heisman hopes or even a New York City trip. Baylor, which held him to 43 yards for a 2.5-yard average and no run longer than 9, loaded the box with seven or eight men frequently and dared Texas to beat it.
“We were more of a drop-back pass team today,” Sarkisian said, “and that’s not our style of football.”
Like Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense, which didn’t register a sack or breathe hard on Baylor's Gerry Bohanon, didn’t come close to stopping the run and continues to play double high safeties, even against a Baylor pass attack that rarely threw deep downfield. The cornerbacks have given receivers far too much cushion all season, and the results have been disastrous.
In fairness, there’s not all that much difference between the ranked Bears and the unranked, unable, unbelievably average, un-everything Longhorns. But there was a gap between the two on the scoreboard as Baylor came back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to surge past Texas.
It’s been a familiar story, sadly, with identical endings.
It’s the new norm.
Eyes on Texas: Will this season end up more like 2018 or 2014?