University of Texas

Doh! At least punter will play in bowl game for depleted Longhorns

Texas coach Tom Herman talks to quarterback Sam Ehlinger during an early season game. The Longhorns will try to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season when they play Missouri on Wednesday in the Texas Bowl.
Texas coach Tom Herman talks to quarterback Sam Ehlinger during an early season game. The Longhorns will try to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season when they play Missouri on Wednesday in the Texas Bowl. AP

This column could simply start with that emoji of the guy slapping his forehead, and end right there.

Doh!

If not for Homer Simpson, Texas fans would have trademarked that three-letter catchphrase after watching these past four seasons of four-lettered football. The Longhorns just can’t get it together, not during three forehead-slapping seasons under Charlie Strong and not after a dozen games of the hopeful Tom Herman era that reads six up and six down.

The 2017 season will mercilessly come to an end Wednesday night when the less-than-mighty Horns take on the Missouri Tigers in the Texas Bowl down in Houston.

No home-cooking is expected in this one, and surely Texas fans aren’t anticipating a grand, program-affirming victory to carry the torch into a we’re-back-baby 2018. We’re pretty much just praying the Horns don’t go all SMU on us.

Heck, at this point, Texas fans should score it a win if they simply recognize a few names on the back of the jerseys.

Between skipping the bowl game -- the school’s first since Mack Brown received his parting gifts -- to protect draft status, injuries and now three suspensions the school announced Friday, the Horns’ bowl motto has quickly become, “Hey, at least the punter’s gonna play!”

That’s right, Ray Guy Award finalist Michael Dickson decided he will risk his treasured right limb in the big bowl game before entering the NFL Draft. That won’t be the case for a couple of juniors, stud left tackle Connor Williams and safety DeShon Elliott. That pair will take the financially-wise path and skip their final college hurrah with beloved teammates to avoid any possibility of an injury and a slide down the draft board.

Junior linebacker Malik Jefferson was contemplating to play or not to play, and a case of turf toe will likely make the decision for him. So long and good luck, Mr. Jefferson.

Meanwhile, cornerback Holton Hill, upon his own suspension, decided he might as well just go pro. Then there’s rock-solid running back Chris Warren III, who’s transferring out after made into a tight end, and therefore won’t play either. Not that Herman would have used him anyway.

And finally came word of three more suspensions Friday: running back Toneil Carter, receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey and tight end Garrett Gray. All have been suspended for the usual undisclosed violation of team rules.

But what, there’s more. Texas also announced Friday that defensive tackle Chris Nelson is out with an elbow injury.

Sounds bleak. But that’s not the worst of it.

As Longhorns Austin-based beat writer Brian Davis noted, if Texas loses to Missouri, it will seal a fourth consecutive losing season, the worst stretch of Texas football since 1935-38, which puts it in contention for worst period of pigskin in UT history.

Doh!

But, as always, hope is always just over the burnt-orange horizon. The Horns might not win a game in December, but they have apparently won December with the next great recruiting class emerging in the early signing period.

So here’s to the Texas Bowl, a few recognizable names, a few good punts and a 2018 that doesn’t make you go Doh!

Jeff Caplan: 817-390-7705, @Jeff_Caplan

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