Head coach Mack Brown walked into Saturday’s post-game press conference as hotheaded as any player, coach or journalist had ever seen him. With a bright red face and a mouth quivering with anger, Brown answered questions with a short-tempered tone. He looked like he was about to explode.
“I feel like screaming in the stadium,” he said.
Brown quickly plunged into his offense, saying he was “as disappointed as he’s ever been” in it. And rightfully so, as Texas ran for only 96 yards against the Big 12’s worst defense, who allowed Utah and Oklahoma to run for a combined total of 564 rushing yards the previous two weeks.
Texas didn’t even get close to half of that mark because offensive coordinator Greg Davis steered clear of the run, saying that the Cyclones’ defense liked to clog the line of scrimmage and that it would be wiser to pass.
But passing wasn’t the answer, as quarterback Garrett Gilbert was inconsistent, turning the ball over four times. He had three interceptions, one of which was in the end zone, and one fumble.
“Sometimes you can hang in there with it, sometimes you feel like you need to stretch the field a little bit more,” Davis said of the passing game. “Obviously, it didn’t work. We didn’t get the ball in the end zone.”
The offense converted just eight of 18 third downs and only scored two touchdowns on six trips inside the red zone, both in the fourth quarter. The previous three quarters, Texas had ten drives and only scored six points.
“What our offense did for three quarters is unacceptable,” Brown said.
In the third quarter, sophomore tailback D.J. Monroe made his first appearance since rushing for 65 yards against Oklahoma three weeks ago. On the snap, Monroe, who is averaging 11.8 yards per carry this season, ran for 10 yards and moved the chains. But that would be the last time anyone would see him on the field.
“We just felt like, especially as the game went on, that it was a game that we were playing from behind,” Davis said. “As we talked about before, there are some limitations there, but obviously he got in there on one play and gave us a 10-yard run. We have to do a better job of getting him the ball.”
The limitations Davis mentioned include Monroe’s small size, as he is too small for pass protection, and that he hasn’t learned the entire playbook yet. But that didn’t prevent him from being the lone spark in the running game on Saturday.
Gilbert completed 34 of 57 passes for 344 yards, 178 of which came in the fourth quarter as an act of desperation. Senior receiver John Chiles, who has suffered from a groin injury all year, was Gilbert’s best option, catching five balls for 117 yards and a touchdown.
It’s hard to imagine that the Longhorns have much more to play for after being crushed by two underdogs this season. But despite the upsets, they still have five games left.