Mac Engel

Tom Herman era sinks to new low as Texas Longhorns are embarrassed by 3-3 TCU

TCU and head coach Gary Patterson basically got the last two Texas coaches fired, so Tom Herman had best watch himself.

Tom, you can lose to LSU. Many a Texas coaches before you perfected losing to Oklahoma, so everyone in the state, and all burnt orange-wearing folks, are numb to that particular outcome.

You were hired to at least be superior to the purple “cockroach” in Fort Worth. You were hired to be better than Charlie Strong, and that means beating TCU.

When you are Texas, losing to TCU when the Horned Frogs are good is not acceptable — and it’s humiliating when TCU is but average.

Saturday was a case of a team that was not that bad (TCU), and another that is not that good (Texas).

TCU entered Saturday with no offense and a 3-3 record. TCU left Saturday with a 4-3 record, a breakout day for its offense and specifically its beat-to-bits freshman quarterback.

It can thank the University of Texas for all of this.

TCU defeated No. 15 Texas 37-27, an outcome that sends both teams in opposite directions.

Somewhere, in the Austin night, Horns fan Matthew McConaughey is crying, “Not all right, not all right, not all right.”

The school that Bevo had to personally approve to join the Big 12 is now 6-2 against the Longhorns in league play. Let that sink in, Texas: TCU has defeated you in six out of eight games in the Big 12.

There are a lot of people in Fort Worth laughing about this, including a certain head coach.

“I like my job. It helps me,” Patterson said after the game, “If I beat Texas, I get to keep my job longer.”

If all Gary has to do is beat Texas, he will coach this team until the year 5241, at which point he may retire. He will simply quit over the boredom of beating Texas.

Herman is now 1-2 against Gary Patterson, which is better than Charlie Strong, who was 0-3. Mack Brown was 2-1 against GP.

On Saturday, Patterson outcoached Herman and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Texas was confirmed as a group that won’t have a good day if its quarterback is struggling.

Texas’ defense has given up at least 30 points in all but two of its eight games this season. The only two times the Longhorns didn’t give up 30 or more were games against Louisiana Tech and Rice.

When asked about his defense, Herman could only be honest; “We’re not good,” he said.

For the record, Herman stood by Orlando after the game with the media. He doesn’t have much choice.

After the season, however ....

Ehlinger threw four picks, or so many that Herman could not remember them all when discussing the interceptions after the game.

The University of Texas should be better than having to rely on just quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He’s a nice college player. We’re not talking about Vince Young here.

A Texas defense that made Kansas look like the New England Patriots one week ago was shredded by a kid who, prior to Saturday, looked like he was one more bad play away from residing on the bench.

On Saturday, TCU freshman Max Duggan passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns; he also ran it 13 times for 72 yards and a touchdown.

“We thought they would try to protect him a little bit and run the ball,” Herman said. “Thought we played the run game pretty well. When he got out of the pocket, he’s a tough guy to catch up to and get down on the ground. He made some unbelievable throws. Hats off.”

On multiple occasions in the second half, Duggan hit long third-down pass plays that should not happen. Completing a few third-and-forevers against Texas is now as irregular as a sunrise.

Against Texas, TCU finally found its best offensive player, receiver Jalen Reagor. He caught a 44-yard touchdown in the second half on a play that followed, of course, an Ehlinger pick.

Of note, after dropping a catchable pass in the first half that looked like it could have been a long touchdown, TCU receiver Taye Barber burned the UT secondary with five catches for 94 yards.

“And that (TCU) defense,” Herman said, “that’s the best defense in our conference.”

Surely he’s not talking about this season. TCU’s defense gave up 41 points to SMU and 49 points to Iowa State.

Whatever momentum UT had from its win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in January is all but gone as the reality of another ish season is upon us. Blame injuries, youth and an excessive case of BevoOverratedness. (Webster’s Dictionary is currently considering that as a word for its 2020 edition.)

If Texas was as good as advertised, it should have defeated this version of TCU.

Even with a young defense that, because of injuries, is forced to play too many freshmen in the secondary, Texas should beat TCU.

Now, maybe the game is close, but if Texas is what the brand should represent, it beats TCU. That’s the way college football is designed. In college football, Texas has all of the established advantages, and losing to TCU should not be a regular occurrence.

But TCU keeps beating Texas because, at least head-to-head, the Horned Frogs are better. Five of TCU’s six wins against UT in the Big 12 are by double digits, and its average margin of victory in those wins is 22.8 points.

Tommy Boy Herman may yet work out in Austin, but he’d best be careful. He can lose to LSU or Oklahoma, but losing to TCU has gotten many a coaches before him fired.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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