It wasn’t time to sound the alarm after Texas’ 45-38 loss to LSU on Sept. 7.
The Longhorns had faced a quarterback that is now No. 1 on many people’s Heisman list, a wide receiving corps that has a serious claim to be the best in the nation and cornerbacks that were much more experienced than the team trying to replace
“This (was) a preconference game that has no bearing on our standing in our conference,” said head coach Tom Herman the Monday following the loss to LSU. “We will be a better team for having played that game, and I’m glad we did. And there’s a lot of positive that will come from having played that game, regardless of the outcome.”
That was almost two months ago. Since then, Texas has consistently given up enormous amounts of yards and points to nearly every team it has played. Each week a new player pops up on the injury report, forcing the Longhorns to find an able body to fill the spot.
Texas has lost two games in three weeks, with a depleted defense and a team sitting third in the conference, one spot away from playing in the Big 12 Championship game. At 5–3, the outlook for the remainder of the season is completely different than the outlook during preseason play — an outlook that included hopes of a Big 12 Championship.
However, help is on the way for Texas, and it comes in two forms.
The first is the bye week. It gives Texas an extra week to prepare for Kansas State, who moved up to No. 22 nationally after a 48-41 upset over conference-leading Oklahoma. The bye provides an opportunity for the Longhorns to step back, evaluate how the season got to the point that it is and try to right the ship. On the physical side, the bye week gives injured players — across all positions — another seven days to heal.
“My expectation is, if everything goes well, then all those guys will play against Kansas State,” Herman said. Herman is speaking of sophomore safety B.J. Foster, sophomore safety DeMarvion Overshown, sophomore safety Caden Sterns, senior linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch and freshman running back Jordan Whittington.
Along with their abilities on the field, all of those players except for Jordan Whittington have been in this position before. They have been on a team that quickly crashed after flying high on a six game winning streak before finding its way to AT&T Stadium with a conference championship on the line. Herman is hoping the experience of the 2018 team can find its way to this iteration of Texas.
“There was a team last year that lost two games in a row, in conference, and still kept fighting, still kept battling, and found a way into the conference title game,” Herman said. “If we handle our business, we’ll make sure that we’re right there in the race.”