For the third time this season, Texas head coach Tom Herman stepped up to the podium following a road loss to a conference opponent. He wore a black shirt, appropriate for the mournful mood surrounding the Longhorns after Saturday night’s walk-off loss to unranked but favored Iowa State.
It wasn’t just the loss for Texas but rather everything surrounding it. The offsides penalty that gave the Cyclones a fresh set of downs and an opportunity to run the clock down and kick the winning field goal added to an already crushing loss. On top of that, Baylor lost to Oklahoma, which with a Texas win would’ve made this week’s matchup against the Bears a de facto play-in game for the Big 12 championship.
“We’ve still got a bunch of seniors in that locker room that have bled, sweat and cried for this program,” Herman said. “And we owe it to be determined to correct the mistakes that were made and do our best to go 1–0 against Baylor this week.”
The loss to Iowa State sets Texas’ record at 6–4 — dooming Texas to their tenth consecutive season of four or more losses and cementing a program on the edge of mediocrity.
In terms of win streaks, the peak of the Longhorns’ season was Week Five, when Texas had won three consecutive games ahead of its matchup with Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. Since then, the Longhorns haven’t been able to win back-to-back games.
“(The fans) have every right to be (upset) if they are true supporters,” Herman said. “We have not played to the level of our expectations. If you’re a fan of us, you probably have very similar expectations, and we haven’t met those expectations thus far.”
One of the areas that was particularly underwhelming was the run game. Texas was held to a pedestrian 54 yards on the ground. The Longhorns were simply unable to produce any level of momentum on the ground, which was extremely out of character for a team that has rushed for at least 100 yards in each game this season.
Texas’ 2019 season has been packed with disappointing moments that fall short of expectations — four of them, to be exact. While a narrow defeat to now No. 1 LSU can hardly be viewed as a letdown, losses to two unranked opponents and a poor-playing Oklahoma team can be. Add these heartbreaking moments to the sobering reality that Texas will likely not compete for the Big 12 championship, and the Longhorns’ anticlimactic season is nearly complete.
“The thing that we have stressed to them is that you’re not ever going to be defined
by when you get knocked down,” Herman said. “You’re always going to be defined by how you get back up when you get knocked down. This will be a good challenge for us to see what we’re made of in terms of responding to being knocked down.”
With Big 12 aspirations out the way and bowl eligibility locked up, the challenge now for Herman is getting his team to prepare and perform in the final two weeks of the season, which won’t be as hard to do as it may be perceived, according to Herman.
“It’s not harder than probably what you guys may think,” Herman said. “These guys are competitors, and losing is embarrassing. Nobody wants to lose.”