Lack of offense leads to losing season for Texas

Drew Lieberman

HOUSTON—In his post game remarks, head coach Charlie Strong was quick to his point about what needs to happen for the Longhorns to avoid another losing season in 2015 and beyond.
“We got to get better on offense,” Strong said. “There are no playmakers.”
While both of those statements were pretty clear to many entering the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl the Longhorns’ performance in the 31-7 loss to the Razorbacks left almost no doubt to fans about the validity of those comments.
Junior running back Johnathan Gray ran for nine-yards on six carries but had a costly fumble in the end zone that resulted in an Arkansas touchdown. Junior wide receiver/ running back Daje Johnson, who has big-play potential, received a season-high-three touches , but produced zero yards.
“We didn’t execute on offense,” Strong said. "[That’s] what happens if you’re watching so much, when we have one bad play it leads to another bad play. It’s like we can’t retain our focus.”
For most of the evening the Longhorns simply could not move the ball in the right direction on offense. After penalties, Texas moved the ball a net of 45-yards on 11 offensive possessions including 59-yards from scrimmage the least by an FBS team this season, according to ESPN. 
Six of the Longhorns’ 11 possessions went for negative yardage, with only their final possession of 29-yards keeping the team nine yards from avoiding the distinction of producing their fewest yards of scrimmage in school history.
However, that late drive ended in an interception thrown by sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes that was returned for 46-yards, or one more yard than the offense moved the ball. Texas also scored its only touchdown on a 44-yard drive in the second quarter, an anomaly that came during a seven-drive stretch during which the other six ended with it moving backwards.
“We just didn’t execute,” Swoopes said. “At the end of the day that’s what you’ve got to do.”
After struggling in a five-turnover effort against TCU on Thanksgiving, Swoopes struggled again, averaging less than three yards per pass attempt, while losing 32 yards on the ground. Texas finished the year 5-7 in his 12 starts, and throughout the season the offense struggled to consistently move the chains.
“We talk about the quarterback because the ball is in his hands a lot,” Strong said. “We know that and we see that. He doesn’t always make the perfect throws, but also you got to have somebody around him who can help him out sometimes.”
Junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson thinks that help can come from improved leadership of fellow players in the locker room.
“Once people question pride in the program and things like that it comes from within the locker room and that’s something we have to take accountability for and change, “ Johnson said.
While Johnson did not suggest any position or player in particular needs to step up as leaders, Texas’ poor results since 2010 indicate that whoever is the starting quarterback in 2015 will need to take charge if the Longhorns are to start winning again.