October 23, 2010
Iowa State 28, Texas 21. I've never been a Texas fan, but I think speak for all of my fellow Austinites when I say: Thank god the Longhorns beat Nebraska last week. I don't care who wins. But without the upset in Lincoln, the 'Horns would be on a four-game losing streak right now with consecutive home losses to UCLA and Iowa State, they'd be below .500 for the first time in 13 years under Mack Brown, and the entire city would be engulfed in flames.
As it is, offensive coordinator Greg Davis' may be coming in for some minor property damage, and quarterback Garrett Gilbert's dorm room door for a good egging.* Gilbert comes out of the day with the first 300-yard passing game of this career, but that's more a sign of the offense's desperation in the second half than the sophomore's growing competence after seven starts – the Longhorns' first ten possessions resulted in four punts, three turnovers, two field goals and a 28-6 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
This against a Cyclone defense that ranked dead last in the Big 12 in total and scoring defense after being torched for 120 points on 1,265 total yards in back-to-back debacles against Utah and Oklahoma. ISU coach Paul Rhoads summed up the situation pretty clearly after being pantsed by the Utes: "If it was a shootout, we didn't have a gun." At this point, Texas doesn't even have a slingshot.
Copy and paste the reaction to the UCLA loss here, and multiply the urgency by about fifty. Again, the Longhorns were clearly outplayed by a double-digit underdog, at home. Against, the proud run defense yielded 200 yards on the ground to an awful rushing team. Again, they failed to reach the end zone until the game was effectively out of reach in the fourth quarter. Again, Garrett Gilbert looked more like the overmatched noob we met in the first half of January's BCS title game than the up-and-comer who showed flashes of his blue-chip potential in the second half. He'll likely wake up tomorrow as the most inefficient passer in the Big 12, and the 'Horns still have no running game to speak of. They've failed to score a touchdown now in 10 of the last 16 quarters.
That span accounts for more than half the season to date, and last week's triumph now looks like the eye of a catastrophic storm. This is the reality after the reputation and preseason expectations are ripped away: Texas is awful on offense, only marginally better than average on defense and headed for a mid-December bowl game, at best. If the Bears beat Kansas State, there's a fair chance the Longhorns will be home underdogs to Baylor come next week. Those warnings to bar the windows were not a drill.
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* Obligatory note to Texas fans: Please do not engage in property damage and/or egging of any severity. It's bad, mmmkay?
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.