Longhorns stumble in shutout loss to Iowa State

Nick Castillo

The Cyclone rushing attack gashed the Longhorns on Saturday. Paired with a sputtering Texas offense, the Horns suffered a 24-0 loss to Iowa State.

Junior defensive tackle Paul Boyette said Monday that Iowa State wasn’t a “very good team.” His teammates preached the need to stay focused and humbled. But when the final whistle blew on a chilly Saturday night in Ames, Iowa, it was the Longhorns who were ultimately humbled by their first shutout loss to an unranked opponent since 1961.

“Am I surprised?” junior defensive end Bryce Cottrell said. “Of course, I’m always surprised. I mean, this is The University of Texas. It’s unacceptable.”

The Longhorns’ “unacceptable” loss started early with their inability to generate offense. Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard had trouble finding open receivers, and the Cyclones’ defense was able to keep him from scrambling. Heard completed only six passes for 26 yards and averaged 1.4 yards per carry on nine attempts.

Heard’s inability to spark the passing game limited Texas in its loss.

“You have to take shots, and when it is time to take shots, you have to let the ball go,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “We had the opportunities, but you have to be able to release the ball and let the receivers make the plays. The receiver is not always going to be open when you let go of the ball, but you have to give those guys a shot.”

The defense started off slowly, giving up an early 3-yard touchdown run to freshman running back Mike Warren. Texas struggled to stop Iowa State redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Lanning, who made his first career start Saturday. Lanning threw for 188 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 64 yards. The Longhorns’ defense spent too much time on the field, giving up 426 yards to the Cyclones.

“On defense, we didn’t help [the offense] out at all, especially on third down,” junior safety Dylan Haines said.  “We’re going to look back on this game and see that we’re not executing on third down. … We just have to continue to play better and execute.”

The loss added to Texas’ road woes. The game marks the Longhorns’ third loss on the road and eighth loss by at least 20 points under Strong. The team has been outscored 112-10 when playing in an opponent’s stadium this year. The momentum Texas carried from its wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State came to a screeching halt Saturday.

“It concerns me because it looked like we were building on [something],” Strong said. “We felt that we had something going, outside of the early losses we had. We just need to play hard, and with a lot of effort. I think defensively we played hard — ­­we need the execution to be there now.”

The Longhorns will now look for answers as they prepare for a game against the winless Kansas Jayhawks. With five losses and four games remaining, Texas has to win three games to make a bowl game. If the Longhorns are unable to become bowl eligible, they’ll look at their Halloween nightmare as one reason they didn’t make the cut.