On a gray and gloomy Black Friday, Texas — even if just for a game — got its swagger back. The circumstances weren’t ideal, though. The Longhorns didn’t have a conference championship or bowl eligibility to play for and didn’t have to worry about a motivated Texas Tech on the other side, as they didn’t have anything to play for either.
The only thing meaningful to Texas was that it was senior day.
“We all know this is not where we hoped we would be to begin the season,” Herman said. “But to send the seniors out … was the mission from the time we met on Sunday.”
Early on, it looked as if senior day would be spoiled — as the first quarter struggles that had plagued the Longhorns all season showed their faces. The Red Raiders put the ball in the end zone on their first two drives, taking a quick 14-0 lead. Then Texas exploded, going on a 49-10 run and winning 49-24.
“There was no panicking,” senior defensive lineman Malcolm Roach said. “We knew how to respond. I’m just proud of how the guys sent us out. The guys practiced hard all week and told us we weren’t going to lose this game. It was a great last memory on that field.”
The Longhorns scored a touchdown on six of its next seven drives — not counting the kneel down to end the first half. For the most part, the ground game was similar to what it always is. Texas ran for 262 yards, the fifth time it has gone over 200 yards rushing.
As the Longhorns were getting whatever they wanted on the ground, the Red Raiders were being denied on the other side. Texas was able to limit the damage from the ground game and put together another solid performance, which looked highly unlikely about a month ago.
“We were just out there having fun,” senior safety Brandon Jones said. “When we have fun, we do play our best.”
Texas’ victory saved them from an average season, in terms of record, and gave them a third winning season in a row.
When it was all said and done, Texas did what it wanted to do. It sent the seniors off with a win and provided them with one final memory of DKR to end this part of their careers.
It was a culmination for the seniors on the team, many of whom had the coach that recruited them, Charlie Strong, fired a year into their time with the program.
After the game, senior linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, who was apart of that class, was one of the last players to leave the field. After the Longhorn Band had stopped playing, he stepped back to soak up his last moments at the stadium. When he decided it was tim to go, he took a couple steps back, looked around and blew two kisses to the stadium he’d called home for four years.
McCulloch’s farewell was much like many of his teammates, emotional and heartfelt.
“It was it was definitely really emotional,” Jones said. “There's just a lot to take in and thankfully, my mom held up because (if) she would have cried, I would’ve I lost it. But it is definitely awesome just seeing the guys were in the line with me, just knowing everything that we've been through. It's been a really awesome experience.”