Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Texas Longhorns season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Texas Longhorns
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Texas Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
That’s how many victories the Texas football program has amassed over the last eight seasons.
The Marcell Dareus crunching of Colt McCoy early in the 2010 BCS Championship turned out to be the unofficial end of one of the stronger runs in recent college football history, and for a whole slew of reasons/excuses, Texas hasn’t been able to recover.
Before that loss to Alabama, the Longhorns won 90 games and a national title in the previous eight seasons.
By comparison to UT’s 53 wins over the last eight, Oklahoma has won 85 games. Oklahoma State has won 78, and with a few pre-Big 12 seasons thrown in to the equation, TCU is third among current conference programs with 75.
Baylor – the program that went years simply trying to win a Big 12 game, and just finished off a one-win 2017 season – has won 12 more games over the last eight years than Texas.
Texas Tech (51), Iowa State (36), and Kansas (15) are the only Big 12 programs who have been worse than Texas from 2010 until now, and it’s up to Tom Herman to change this around.
There are no more excuses.
The recruiting hasn’t been good enough? Ask Kansas State (68 wins in eight years), West Virginia (62) and TCU what life is like without the advantages of being the program in the most football-mad state in the country.
The talent evaluation and development haven’t been up-to-snuff? Maybe. Life would’ve been better if, for example, in-state prospects Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel were part of the quarterback fun, but it’s not like Texas fielded teams of total stiffs during the down period.
Charlie Strong set the program back? No, he wasn’t great, but he was terrific at Louisville and did okay for himself in his first year at USF – the guy can coach. He was in charge of a rebuild at Texas, and last season was when the payoff was supposed to come.
Mack Brown stayed too long and the program needed a reboot? Yeah, but Bobby Bowden hung around past his prime and Florida State was able to rise up a few years later and win a national championship. Virginia Tech moved on and was fine after a few down years at the end of the Frank Beamer era, too, and Penn State – after the disaster of all disasters at the end of the Joe Paterno era – quickly became great again.
The Texas brand name doesn’t have the same luster? Michigan and Nebraska keep getting roasted for being legendary superpowers that can’t recapture the magic, and both of them have 66 wins over that eight-year span.
Yeah, it was Herman’s first run, but last year’s team should’ve been far better than 6-6 in the regular season. The 2016 team lost to Kansas, and the 2017 team beat Kansas. There’s the difference in what, again, was supposed to be a bigger and better year.
But there are signs the pivot is about to happen.
Herman crushed his 2018 recruiting class, and there’s a reasonable hope that with the talent he’s starting to bring in, he might be able to do for Texas what Kirby Smart is creating at Georgia simply by getting more of the elite guys.
2017 wasn’t anything special, but the defense did make a massive leap forward, and five of the six losses – the 24-7 loss to TCU being the exception – could’ve easily have gone the other way. Of course, winning the close games is part of the deal, but the Longhorns were right there in tight battles in ten of the last 13 losses.
But it’s been a long, long, long run of mediocrity to get to this point, and it might take one more year of struggling before that change happens.
The quarterback situation is still iffy and still needs Sam Ehlinger or Shane Buechele to rise up and be fantastic, especially with a strong enough receiving corps that can do more.
The non-existent running backs of last year have to exist – getting Cal grad transfer Tre Watson should help – and the talented line has to be stronger and better with Rice left tackle Calvin Anderson helping the cause.
The defense has to replace four key parts in LB Malik Jefferson, S DeShon Elliott, CB Holton Hill and DT Poona Ford – and losing P Michael Dickson is a killer – but there’s more than enough talent returning and coming up to challenge TCU to be the Big 12’s best D.
And now Herman and his staff are in their second year. This is their program, they have their styles and systems in place, and they know what they’re doing.
53 wins? The seventh most successful program in a ten-team Big 12?
That’s all going to change. It has to.