Column: Despite showing promise against Texas Tech, Longhorns still need a lot of work for bowl appearance

Peter Sblendorio

For the first time in recent memory, Texas played a complete football game last Saturday against Texas Tech.

The Longhorns scored their highest point total in a road game this season, while holding the Red Raiders to just 13 points, tied for their fewest of the season. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes played an inspiring game after scuffling against Kansas State, and Malcolm Brown became the first Texas running back to rush for 100-yards in a game this season.

Couple this with the fact that there were no glaring special teams errors, something that’s become a norm for Texas this season, and the Longhorns finally have a balanced performance to be proud of.

Still, I wouldn’t bank on this being a sign of things to come. The plain truth is that Texas Tech is, simply put, a lousy football team, and the Longhorns did what teams have been doing all year against them.

Actually, in a lot of ways, they did less.

To put things into context, the Red Raiders surrendered a Big 12 record 82 points against TCU the week before playing Texas and have allowed 35 points to opponents six times in 2014. The Longhorns managed 34 points, which seems a lot less significant when you consider the only teams to score fewer than that against Tech are UT-El Paso and Kansas.

And while the Longhorns’ defense did play admirably, it becomes quite a bit less impressive when you consider the Red Raiders were relegated to using their third-string quarterback, freshman Vincent Testaverde. Testaverde didn’t exactly resemble his father, former NFL star Vinny Testaverde, on the football field Saturday night.

The Longhorns showed promise against Texas Tech, but the reality is that they’ll need to play even better this week to have any chance of knocking off No. 23 West Virginia. It’d be nice to see Texas build off some of the things they did well against the Red Raiders, such as running the ball and defending the pass well, but the Longhorns have had an issue with stringing together consistent performances in 2014.

For example, Texas went down to the wire with No. 12 UCLA and shut out Kansas in back-to-back weeks at the beginning of the season before coming up completely lame against Baylor one week later. Likewise, the Longhorns failed to build off their 48-point performance against Iowa State and got shut out the next week against Kansas State.

For Texas to maintain any chance of qualifying for a bowl game this season, beating West Virginia at home this Saturday is a must. To do this, the Longhorns will need to play the type of consistent, mistake-free football they’ve failed to exhibit for any prolonged stretch of 2014.

The Longhorns finally showed balance for four quarters last weekend, but unfortunately for them, they’ll have to do it against much stronger opponents for a chance at a bowl game.