You can’t go undefeated in conference play unless you win the first game, and that’s exactly what the Longhorns did last Thursday night against Iowa State. It wasn’t pretty at all in many areas, but a win’s a win and I’ll never complain about winning a ballgame anymore.
This is a program that hasn’t seen success in recent years on the road. In fact, they are 2-9 in their last 11 true road games before the win over Iowa State Thursday. And you want to know something even crazier? The win over Iowa State was the Longhorns’ first win outside the state of Texas since they beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater back in November of 2014.
THAT is why this win shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The Texas defense again showed the potential to be scary good as the meat of the conference schedule is about to come up. The offense, on the other hand, still lacks an identity. If Texas is going to win a significant amount of games the rest of the season, I’m convinced none of them are going to be pretty wins. But an ugly win is much better than looking good in a loss, no matter how you want to look at it.
Still, it’s the ugliness of the Iowa State win that makes it hard to believe this team can compete with the top teams in the Big 12 on a regular basis. They may come out a game or two and surprise some people, but there are still too many flaws to be considered a contender in the Big 12 at this point.
Most people will point to the quarterback position and offensive playcalling as being the obvious areas needing improvement. But if you look at the bigger issue concerning both of those areas, you have to start with the offensive line.
Injuries are beginning to put a serious damper on the offensive line play. It’s to the point now where a true freshman had to be inserted into the starting lineup four games into the season, when he was planning on getting a redshirt.
Iowa State completely disrupted the Texas offense by bringing a little bit of pressure. If the Cyclones brought anything more than a three-man rush, the result of the play was either a holding penalty, a tackle for loss or a quarterback hurry. You think the rest of the Big 12 coaches saw that and know exactly what they have to do to beat Texas? I guarantee it.
The challenge for Texas going forward is to find some way to compensate for a shaky offensive line. Quick slants in the passing game are a must. Bringing in an extra blocker in the run game is essential. The starting five on the offensive line won’t be able to get the job done at this point, so Tom Herman is going to have to get creative.
As good as the defense has played the last couple games, they aren’t going to be able to hold teams to under 20 points every game. Kansas State is next on the schedule, who is notorious for giving Texas fits. Luckily the game is being played in Austin, so I have a good feeling about this one.
Just like the Iowa State game, I don’t expect to be completely pleased with the overall performance of the team on Saturday. But an ugly win against Kansas State will feel much better than an impressive looking loss.
E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.