The Longhorns have a 24-hour rule around the program. The rule states that players have 24 hours to react to whatever happens in Saturday’s game before moving on to the next opponent. Since the loss to Iowa State, over 50 hours had passed, and it was obvious that defensive end Malcolm Roach hadn’t been able to put the game behind him.
Roach, along with sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai, jumped offsides on fourth-and-five, giving the Cyclones a new set of downs late in the fourth quarter. The Cyclones ran the clock down, and as the seconds ticked away, so did the Longhorns’ chances of making it to the Big 12 Championship. The penalty allowed the Cyclones to wind the clock down to 0:04 before kicking the game-winning field goal.
Roach wears his emotions on his sleeve. As he processed his mistake Tuesday afternoon, Roach’s feelings had never been more clear. Many people were in his ears following the game, but the words that stuck with him most were his mother’s.
“I talked to my mom,” Roach said. “She said, ‘Life goes on.’”
For Roach, life not only has to go on, but his senior season does as well. Two games are still on the schedule for the Longhorns. With the chances of the Big 12 Championship game slim to none, the meaning for the season shifts more towards the long term.
“I want to leave a great example for them of how the game should be played and how you should interact with your teammates and things like that,” Roach said.
Roach has been able to do that over the course of this season. He’s been a voice in the defensive room and has mentored several players, specifically freshman defensive lineman Keondre Coburn.
“Malcolm, just, he’s a different type of player. He just teaches in a way to where you don’t have to worry all the time,” Coburn said.
Roach has been the centerpiece of the defensive line this year, making the outcomes of this season even harder of a pill to swallow, especially after Saturday’s loss.
“I’ve probably never felt like that after a loss before,” Roach said.
Fighting through adversity is nothing new for Roach or Texas’ recruiting class of 2016.
“Me and my class (have) been bouncing back from adversity since the day we stepped on this campus.” Roach said. “People telling us not to come here and people telling us, ‘Your coach will be fired within a year’ type of things, so just finding ways to stay strong.”
Throughout the nearly five minutes Roach spoke to the media Tuesday. He cleared his throat several times as he held back tears.
He looked at the ground and tried to explain why he felt so distraught.
“It’s just hard because I was just trying to make a play for the team,” Roach said.