The Texas Longhorns sit with a 4-4 record through eight games this season. While it’s been a disappointing season, to say the least, there have been a lot of positives to build on. With a quarter of the season remaining, it’s time to set some realistic expectations based on what we know about this team through eight games.
The Longhorns offense isn’t going to get any better any time soon. With Sam Ehlinger in the concussion protocol, Shane Buechele is back at quarterback. While Buechele is serviceable and capable of doing some good things at the position, it’s obvious the offense is limited with his skill set.
Scoring 38 points against Baylor shouldn’t be looked at any other way than Texas played against an awful team in Waco, but took care of business. Now, I will say the combination of true freshmen Daniel Young and Toneil Carter looked pretty promising. Those guys are clearly the most explosive running backs on the roster and should get a lot more action going forward. Maybe it will be the start of the running game getting going? Or maybe not.
The offensive can’t get anywhere because of a depleted offensive line; Buechele was running for his life nearly every time he dropped back to pass against Baylor. This patchwork offensive line has been exactly that since about week 3 and hasn’t improved much. I have no reason to believe it will get better over the remaining four games.
Now, the defense is another story and can cover up some of the doom and gloom of the offensive woes. I could see the defense getting even better, as they have just about every single week. The only problem is the team almost has to rely on defensive touchdowns to win games since the offense can’t get them there enough.
So with four games left, and we pretty much know what we’re going to get out of the team on a weekly basis, what are the realistic expectations in the win-loss column?
The Longhorns head to TCU on Saturday, who just came off of a loss on the road to Iowa State. I didn’t think Texas had a chance to beat TCU before that game, and I definitely don’t think they will be able to score enough points to beat them now.
Then comes Kansas to Austin. There shouldn’t be any headlines following this game other than stating that Texas took care of business.
Going to West Virginia is always tough. I’m not really sure what to make of the Mountaineers, as they’ve been a little up and down all season. This is a game Texas can win, but being on the road is going to be a huge challenge.
Then the finale against Texas Tech at home. This could very well be the game that could send the Longhorns to bowl eligibility. In fact, I expect Texas to have a 5-6 record entering this game. And if that’s the case, beating the Red Raiders will be more important than any other game in year one for Tom Herman.
In a year with so many expectations, getting to a bowl game is the absolute minimum that has to happen. There can’t be any setbacks between now and then, and I don’t think there will be.
The truth is this team could very possibly be looking at a 5-7 record. I believe they’ll split the remaining four games and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014, though. Is that something to hang your hat on? Definitely not. But with such a fragile team, both mentally and physically at times, even a small victory should be celebrated.
At this point, it’s time to build on some of the positives, find ways to fix some of the negatives and start looking ahead to year two of the Herman era.
E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.