Tag Archives: Longhorns football

Can You Blame Texas Players For Leaving Early For The NFL?

There’s been a lot of attrition around the Texas football program for several years. But this is the first time that I can remember where a good chunk of the attrition is coming from players leaving after their junior season to enter the NFL draft. Let’s take a look at who’s gone so far:

  • OT Connor Williams announced almost immediately following the Texas Tech game that he would forego his senior season and not participate in the upcoming bowl game. Williams is projected as a first-round draft pick, and potentially a top-10 pick overall. His decision should have been a no-brainer, and it appears that it was to him as well.
  • DB Holton Hill made a similar announcement recently. Hill’s situation is different because he was suspended for the last few games of the season. His stock was soaring as he was having the best year of his career. Most people expected him to bolt to the NFL anyway, but his suspension pretty much solidified the decision.
  • DB Deshon Elliott’s decision to enter the NFL draft came as somewhat of a surprise to me. Yes, he had a great year and was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist, but I don’t believe his stock is very high. He could potentially improve his stock with another solid year next year, but I guess you can’t blame him for striking while the iron is hot.

Other potential departures we are waiting on announcements from are Malik Jefferson, Kris Boyd, and Michael Dickson.

I fully expect Jefferson to leave, since he has the potential to be a first-round draft pick.

Boyd needs another year, plain and simple. He showed some good signs when he replaced Hill for the final three games, but has plenty of room to improve.

Dickson is a wild card. As a punter, you may not get drafted at all. However, being the Ray Guy award winner as the nation’s top punter will help his stock out. This decision likely just depends on whether Dickson is tired of school or not.

So now that we have the main list of candidates to think about, it’s time to have the discussion of whether they should leave or not.

In my opinion, Williams, Hill, and Jefferson should go. They have a chance to be first or second round picks, and it’s not worth coming back to Texas to risk injury. The only reason why they should even remotely consider coming back is if they have a chance to win a championship. Even the optimistic Longhorns fan knows that isn’t realistic at this point.

As for the rest of the players, can you actually blame them if they decide to leave? I mean, they can make the league minimum salary and still be in better shape than playing for free in college. Could they get better and make more money by being a higher draft pick after next season? Yes. Could they get hurt next season and end their career without making a dime playing football? Absolutely.

As a fan, you always want your best players to stick around for four years. But with the landscape of college football and the NFL changing, it’s hard for me to blame them for making money while they can.

The worst case scenario for them is they go undrafted, get signed as an undrafted free agent to a practice squad and then work their tails off to make the team. The best investment you can make is in yourself, so if you have the talent to play in the NFL, then go after it. These guys can always come back to school if the NFL doesn’t work out, but there’s only so many healthy years they have to play in the NFL.

With that being said, I hope this doesn’t become a trend where players skip out on bowl games if they are entering the NFL draft. The college bowl season is already losing the interest of fans enough as it is, so not having the best players on the field will diminish the relevance of each game even more. If the trend continues, college football as we know it will be changed drastically.

As for Texas players specifically, there’s really no reason for guys to play in the bowl game if they’re going to pursue a career in the NFL. There’s absolutely no value in playing in a mediocre bowl game as a 6-6 team. Yes, the team loyalty factor comes into play, but there are times when you have to look out for yourself as well. The chance to make hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum is one of those times, in my opinion.

Photo: Pixabay

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

The Horns Still Have The “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” Culture

Tom Herman made it clear exactly one year ago that he came to Austin to change the Longhorns football program into a winning culture again. He thought he was doing all of the right things, but he didn’t know what he was getting into until the opening game.

Fast forward a bit to last week, and it looked like Texas had established an identity and gained some confidence, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But just like the past three years, the team took one step forward against West Virginia, and two steps back against Texas Tech the following week.

How can a team look so fluid and on the same page with one another, and then be completely discombobulated the next? It’s the culture that’s been established since at least 2014, that’s how.

This program simply doesn’t know how to handle success, even as minor as the success may be. Getting to bowl eligibility is something to be celebrated for this program since it’s something they haven’t achieved since 2014. I don’t think they celebrated too much and overlooked Texas Tech, though. But I do think the players heard people talking all week about how much better they looked and had all the momentum in their favor.

The culture for the players is to believe the hype without playing the game. This team simply isn’t good enough to beat anyone on talent alone, and it was proved yet again on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

So what’s next for the Horns?

They will get an invite to a bad bowl game that will likely be played in the middle of the day during the last week of the year. No one around Austin will be excited about the bowl game, which means the players probably won’t be either. That will be especially true if the handful of juniors who could make the jump to the NFL have already made their decision that they won’t be returning for their senior season.

Quite honestly, I don’t know if winning or losing the bowl game will make a difference for the culture Herman is trying to instill. I really don’t believe it will affect recruiting one way or another. But what it will do is help Herman prepare for next season. Out of the 15 bowl practices the team gets, I would be surprised if the majority of them aren’t focused on next year rather than actually winning the bowl game.

But as Herman has realized this season, he has a whole lot more work to do to get his players mentally ready to be successful. You can’t have a team that feels good about themselves after a win over an average team, and then completely lays an egg the next week against a below average team. The result you get with that type of culture will always be a team with 4-6 losses every single year, and that’s assuming you have enough talent to beat a few average teams on your schedule.

Until Herman is able to at least change the culture to a “two steps forward, one step back” culture, there’s going to be a similar amount of loss in the Texas football program. And no matter how much we hear about the culture being changed, we will never truly know it has happened until we see the results in the win column.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Texas’ Bowl Chances Could Rely On One Player

I understand a lot has happened this season and there are many reasons why Texas may or may not make a bowl game this season. However, with two games remaining and needing to win one of them, one player stands out to me as needing to step up: cornerback Kris Boyd.

For the casual followers of the Longhorns, I’ll tell you why he is more important now than he has been all year. Holton Hill was recently suspended for the rest of the season for a violation of team rules. Hill has been the best player on the Texas defense and has even been thought of as a potential first round NFL draft pick if he leaves school after the season as a junior. Unless you follow games closely, you may not have even heard of Hill, simply because opposing teams don’t throw the ball in his direction much. He’s been that good.

Now Kris Boyd has slid over into Hill’s role as the number one cornerback. Boyd has had a solid year, but he’s good for at least one blown coverage a game, and potentially a personal foul for a late hit or pass interference flag. There’s a lot of good and bad with Boyd, but now that he’s replacing Hill, there needs to be a lot more good.

Positive signs were not there against Kansas, who put up 27 points and over 350 yards of offense against a Texas defense that has been stout all season for the most part. The two remaining teams on the schedule, West Virginia and Texas Tech, have a lot better offenses than Kansas.

We all know Texas isn’t going to be able to win either of their upcoming games if they get into a shootout. They just aren’t equipped to score 30+ points against any team with an average defense. We are halfway through November and we still don’t know who’s going to start at quarterback any given week. That’s how bad things are.

Boyd hasn’t shown the ability to be a lockdown cornerback like Hill was. And with other key injuries to the Texas secondary, it doesn’t bode well for the defense to be able to shut down their remaining opponents like they’ve done other teams this season.

I expect the defense to be able to hang around with West Virginia and Texas Tech regardless, but the absence of Hill could prove to be the difference. Teams will now be more willing to throw to their primary receiver since Boyd can be exposed more easily than Hill could. The main thing with Boyd is he absolutely cannot give up the big play or have a critical penalty at a crucial time in the game.

So when you’re watching the game on Saturday, keep an eye out for #2 playing defense for the burnt orange and white. If you hear Boyd’s name called for positive things, Texas has a chance to win out. But if you hear similar things that have been said all season about Boyd getting flagged or blowing coverages, Texas could get shut out of a bowl for a third straight year.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at chas[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

For Texas, There’s Still More Questions Than Answers

After almost every Texas game this season, I read about people bashing the offense on Twitter, the radio and everywhere else. Some people blame Tom Herman, some people blame offensive coordinator Tim Beck, and others blame the quarterback (whomever that is any given week).

It’s pretty clear the Longhorns have some serious problems offensively. But to place the blame entirely, or even partially, on one person is simply unfair.

First, Beck usually gets the brunt of the blame from fans, just because it’s easy to target the offensive play caller. But from what I’ve seen, I’m ok with what he’s done so far. Of course there are some questionable calls, but we see some different things happening. Adjustments are being made, but none of them work. I’ll tell you why in a bit.

Next is Tom Herman. Is Herman really the answer at Texas? I thought he was an offensive mastermind? Isn’t he the quarterback whisperer? These are the questions I’ve seen numerous times. And for those people, I say chill out and let this play out for more than one season before you make those judgments. And for the record, I always said the same things about Charlie Strong.

The next line of blame falls on the quarterback. Fans were excited about what Shane Buechele brought to the table last year, but he just can’t stay healthy. Then there was excitement with Sam Ehlinger, who got concussed and is now dealing with an inner ear issue. All I’m going to say about this point is the issue isn’t with the quarterback, folks.

Now I want to draw some parallels with you. Let’s flashback to last year at this point. Texas had a 5-4 record and had to win one of their last three games to save Charlie Strong’s job. That team was so fragile and incredibly mentally weak that they couldn’t do it, even when they knew they would lose their beloved coach if they didn’t.

This year, Texas is 4-5 and has to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible. Again, some players are saying they are confident they can do it. But confidence and mental toughness are two different things.

The one question that has been answered most of the year is the mental state of the team. Even in some heartbreaking losses, the team never gave up as they did in past years. I was seeing a mentally stronger team, with the exception of the most recent game against TCU.

Another parallel to quickly touch on is the fact that Ehlinger went from the concussion protocol to having an inner ear issue. This sounds eerily similar to what David Ash dealt with in Charlie Strong’s first year. Forgetting about my fandom for a moment, I hope Ehlinger’s football career doesn’t end like Ash’s did.

Ok, back to Tim Beck and why his adjustments simply aren’t working no matter what he tries. I wrote all of these issues out in a paragraph, but then realized it’s worthy of a bulleted list because there are so many:

  • He doesn’t know who his quarterback is going to be on a weekly basis
  • He may not have had the same starting five on the offensive line in back-to-back weeks the entire season
  • The linemen he has to work with simply aren’t good, for the most part
  • He doesn’t have a running back he can rely on
  • He has plenty of talent at wide receiver, but none want to step up and stand out
  • The lack of a quality and experienced tight end has limited him
  • Some of these points have to do with injuries, while some of them have to do with poor recruiting efforts on offense by the previous coaching staff.

My main point is if you’re going to point your finger at Tim Beck or Tom Herman for this dumpster fire of an offense, then you haven’t been keeping up with this team much at all, and you’re taking the easy way out with the blame game.

Players have to be accountable too. Injuries play a big role in a struggling offense, but the last I checked, even the backups have a scholarship. And if a coach gave you a scholarship to play at the University of Texas, then you better be ready to step up when called on.

With any coaching change, there are going to be a ton of questions. It’s unfortunate that most of the questions to this point are still unanswered for Herman’s program. But with three games left, there’s one big question he needs to answer clearly.

If this team can find a way to beat Kansas, and then either West Virginia or Texas Tech to get to a bowl game, I would say the biggest question of the year had been answered. The team has been struggling mentally in games for years, but now they have a chance to finish strong and somewhat overcome their woes.

But if they can’t get the job done and finish 5-7 or worse, we will be asking even more questions at the end of the season.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Next Step For Texas: Eliminate Close Losses

Texas will never be a “moral victory” program, but it seems like that’s all we can get from the football team nowadays. In fact, it’s beginning to become predictable. Every time the Longhorns face a ranked opponent, they always have a chance to win the game, but find a unique and creative way to lose it.

How predictable is it? I wrote the majority of this article before Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State was even played, minus the details of the actual game, of course.

Tom Herman has to find a way to eliminate these close losses, or things could go south quickly for his program. For the record, I believe Herman is a much different coach than Charlie Strong, but you can’t argue with some of these numbers.

  • Texas lost three games by three points or less in the 2015 season.
  • Texas lost five games by seven points or less in the 2016 season.
  • And through seven games in 2017, Texas has lost three games by five points or less.

And to take it further on the opposite end, this team’s biggest loss under Herman so far is by ten points. Strong’s team lost by 20+ points nine times in three years. So am I saying the close losses are an acceptable trade-off for getting blown out? Not at all.

The most gut-wrenching thing about the close losses this season is the Longhorns held a lead against the #4, #12 and #10 ranked teams in the country in the fourth quarter.

So what can Texas and Herman do to convert these close losses into wins going forward? I don’t see a solution this year, unfortunately.

With a depleted offensive line, the offense is going to be limited all year. That unit may get a little better, but Sam Ehlinger is going to continue to run for his life every time he drops back to pass. It’s just the reality of the situation. A patchwork offensive line is exactly that…patchwork. It can’t be completely fixed in the course of a season, and it’s not going to be.

Not trying to be negative here, but I see what I see and I’m calling it as it is.

The defense has made an admirable turnaround since week one, and they may have turned in their best performance of the season against the top-ranked Oklahoma State offense. When you hold that team to just ten points in regulation, there’s no excuse to not win the game.

People can blame and criticize playcaller Tim Beck all they want, but the playcalling isn’t the issue. Just look at what Ehlinger is forced to do every play. The offense may be better off adopting a backyard football scheme and just have receivers run around everywhere until they get open. And forget about handing the ball off to a running back.

The good news is the brunt of the Big 12 schedule is over for the Longhorns. The hope of being in contention for the conference championship went out the window against Oklahoma State, and now the goal has been lessened to making a bowl game for the first time in two years.

When you look at how competitive this Texas team has been in big games, wins over teams like Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech seem like a given. However, the confidence of this team is clearly shaken on offense, and could result in a loss in any game left on the schedule.

Until Texas figures out how to win a close game over a ranked opponent, we are going to see a lot more of what we did on Saturday. It had to be the most frustrating loss of the season for fans, simply because the result was predictable when the Longhorns held a slight lead in the fourth quarter.

In a way, it seems like the mindset of the players is similar to the mindset of the fans, or me at least. Instead of thinking how Texas could possibly pull off the upset, you can’t help but think how they are going to possibly lose the game after playing so well.

It’s the unfortunate state of the program right now, and it may not get any better until next season, at the earliest.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Flickr

For Texas, Better To Win Ugly Than Lose Pretty

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.

Photo: Wikimedia

Should Texas Be Commended For A Loss?

If you were one of the nearly five million viewers who watched USC beat Texas in double overtime a couple Saturday’s ago, you got yourself a real treat. I was one of the 84,000+ people in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that evening and got every penny’s worth of the price of admission.

There was a lot of talk immediately following the game about the performance the Longhorns had against the fourth-ranked Trojans, and I didn’t see or hear much negativity about it. In fact, walking out of the Coliseum that night, I hadn’t been more proud to be wearing my burnt orange since Texas dominated Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl in 2015.

The reality, though, is the team still lost. I’ve harped over and over how this team simply doesn’t know how to win and the program will not be turned around until Tom Herman figures out how to turn them into winners. But this loss felt different at the time. It felt like progress.

For the first time in seemingly a decade, it looked like the players on the field cared more about the game than I did. That’s really all you can ask for as a fan.

But now, this program has a huge opportunity to build on the success they had against USC and learn from their mistakes. Will it happen this Thursday against Iowa State in Ames, or will Texas revert back to their old ways and play down to the level of their competition?

Speaking of that, on Tom Herman’s weekly radio show last week, he was asked about whether he was worried about his team playing down to their level of competition, and the possibility of complacency seeping into the locker room. His response was pure gold and refreshing to hear.

To summarize, he said he couldn’t understand why people were congratulating him after the USC game. Congratulations should never happen for a loss, because a loss is a loss, no matter what the effort looked like. He has no fear about his players playing down to their level of competition because Herman himself doesn’t even know what it means (of course, you know he does, but he’s just getting in the minds of the players and fans).

He also laughed at the notion of complacency in the locker room. How in the world can you be complacent after you lose? This team is 1-2 through three games, and the media is asking about complacency?

Herman continued by saying that notion was foreign to him. But honestly, he hasn’t followed this program in the last few years. Those questions were legitimate.

This team would get complacent at the most random times. If they beat OU, they would lose to Iowa State in the same year. If they beat Baylor, they would lose to Kansas. All because of complacency and playing down or up to the level of their competition.

Now, as good as Texas appeared to play against USC, there are still plenty of concerns, which have all been acknowledged by Herman. Let’s start with these:

  • Texas lost their All-American left tackle for possibly the season due to injury, leaving them with only five offensive linemen with quality experience.
  • Sam Ehlinger had four turnovers. More on this in a moment.
  • Chris Warren had four carries. I’m not getting into running game issues today, but here are my thoughts.
  • Against two Power-Five opponents, Texas has not scored a single offensive point in the first half of those games.
  • The offense has no identity, which will hurt them tremendously going forward if it doesn’t change.

As for true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger, we saw this guy grow up a little more and get better from quarter to quarter against USC. But we have to pump the brakes on him a little bit. I’m going to make a comparison here that would probably get fans riled up, but just know that I’m not suggesting anything negative.

Remember when Garrett Gilbert was thrown into the national championship game against Alabama and was praised for an admirable performance in a loss? He had four turnovers that game, just like Ehlinger had against USC.

For the record, I’m not comparing Ehlinger to Gilbert at all. I make the point just to say we can’t anoint a freshman quarterback based on one performance. Could Ehlinger be the answer? It wouldn’t surprise me. Let’s just let this play out before calling him the savior of the program, like what happened to Gilbert. This program can’t afford yet another quarterback bust.

The bottom line is Texas has to go out and validate their performance against USC by completely dominating Iowa State on the road Thursday night. There were plenty of positives to take away from that game, but losing is losing and the team has to get better. Effort alone nearly beat the fourth-ranked team in the country, so cleaning up some issues and fixing some mistakes make this team’s ceiling very high.

This week is yet another challenge that Herman hasn’t faced with his team yet. He should seriously take the media questions and the fans reactions to heart. He may not think complacency is possible after a loss, but it has been with this team.

Fans are telling the players how well they played. National media are saying good things about the program. All of it can make complacency creep in. Take it to heart, Herman, because we will clearly see how good of a job you did the last couple weeks when your team takes the field on Thursday.

There may not be five million people tuning into this game, but you can bet the fans that do tune in will want to see nothing less than the fight, intensity, and effort put up against USC.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Same Old Texas?

“Same Old Texas.”

“New Era, Same Bad Team.”

“All Hype, No Substance.”

These are the things I’ve read since Saturday’s debacle against Maryland. While I can’t necessarily disagree with any of them, it’s not all completely true.

Yes, the Longhorns looked awful at times. In fact, I seriously thought I was watching the 2016 Texas team in the first half especially. The special teams miscues brought back nightmares. The major holes in the defensive line gave me chills. The big plays given up by the secondary gave me flashbacks.

But was I surprised with any of them? To an extent…not really.

I’ve told anyone who will listen to me that this is a damaged team that doesn’t know how to win. They haven’t won anything of significance since they’ve been at Texas. They don’t know how to win games on Saturday, or Thursday, or Friday or whenever they play.

I truly don’t think Tom Herman knew what he was getting into. I also believe he was completely shocked at the product on the field against Maryland. I said immediately after the game that I felt like Herman fully expected his team to look as good on Saturday as they do during the week of practice. They didn’t.

But why is that?

It’s taken Herman nine months to get this team to practice at the level he wants. The team practiced well under Charlie Strong also, but at different levels and with different expectations. For some reason, practice habits aren’t translating to the field with this group.

I expected Texas to beat Maryland. I also expected there to be a lot of similar mistakes. But I also thought maybe Herman’s newly instilled culture would remove the rust quickly enough to salvage the game. And believe it or not, it actually did.

In years past, this team would have packed their bags when they were down 27-7 in the second quarter. The end result would have been something to the effect of 55-14. Instead, they fought back and had a chance to win the game. The fact that they didn’t take advantage of the opportunities shows they are still mentally fragile and simply don’t know what to do in situations like that.

Herman admitted his team is mentally fragile. Those are his words, not mine. My words are that Herman inherited damaged goods, but he really didn’t know how damaged they were until last Saturday happened.

I really believe he fixed the problems from last year in practice. I saw glimpses of it. But I also saw a team playing timid and trying too hard to be perfect instead of running around and playing football. The demons came back to them when they took the field.

Herman’s next challenge is to instill a gameday culture similar to what he’s created on and off the field during the offseason. But you can’t simulate a real game. And you only get 12 games a year.

So how is he going to do it?

He gets paid $5 million a year, and I write a blog, so I’ll let him tell us and show us.

All I can say is I saw glimpses of hope from the cheap seats on Saturday. And when Herman said he had numerous players tell him on the sideline that they were going to win the game, I got a little hope. That wasn’t evident last year or the year before.

Herman has instilled a winning mentality in the offseason, but now it has to translate to when it matters on gameday.

Impatient Texas fans don’t want to hear it, but the process will take time. I made my prediction of Texas going 8-4 this season based on them beating Maryland. By default, I should adjust my prediction to 7-5, but I’m not going to. This team will get better and beat a team they shouldn’t.

While there were many more negatives than positives to anyone who watched the game on Saturday, I left the stadium with a little bit of hope. Frustrated without a doubt, but still hopeful.

I saw a team who wants to get mentally stronger, but they don’t know how to just yet. Now that a game is under their belt, I think they will be able to overcome more adversity than they have in the past. The team proved a lot on Saturday by turning a 27-7 deficit into a 37-34 deficit with the ball and a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

I honestly don’t care how bad the game looked on the surface. The ability to overcome adversity like they did shows progress. But I don’t consider it to be a moral victory.

The good thing about the Maryland game is Herman now knows what he’s working with on gameday, and not just the practice field. The demons are still going to come out occasionally throughout the season. And they are going to come out at the most inopportune times. I guarantee it.

I’ll save the talk about questionable coaching decisions, play calling and personnel issues for another time. But for right now, making this a mentally strong team has to be Herman’s number one priority.

Things could get rough over the next few weeks. So what he’s done in nine months of practice has to be done in a much shorter timeframe for Texas to see the success expected this season.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Pixabay

Let The Tom Herman Era Begin

Saturday will mark 280 days since Tom Herman was hired at Texas. From all accounts, he’s made the most of every single day at the 40 Acres.

Whether it’s upgrading the Godzillatron, enhancing the locker room and facilities or just shaking the hands that need to be shaken, Herman has done it all. But now it’s time for him to do what he’s paid to do…win football games.

Herman was hired to bring Texas back to national prominence quickly, and it starts Saturday against Maryland. While I’m not expecting a completely dominating performance, history shows Herman’s teams tend to do exactly that in opening games, which could be a reason why the Longhorns are 17-point favorites at home.

Texas fans don’t need to see a national championship this year. The realistic fans know it’s not going to happen anyway. Being competitive in every single game, winning the games you’re supposed to and avoiding embarrassing losses will already be a step ahead of the last three seasons. And it could also equate to an eight or nine win season.

And I must throw in a refreshing point after watching a little bit of Charlie Strong’s debut with South Florida Saturday night. I felt like I was watching the 2016 Longhorns. Seriously.

The special teams penalties and miscues, the completely disorganized appearance of the team and mismanagement all looked eerily similar. I’m glad that’s no longer an issue. Well, at the very least, it’s not going to be at the same level.

There are things you can and can’t coach with a football team. Talent is something you can’t coach. Discipline can be coached. We always heard Strong had a talented team, and it didn’t make sense why he wasn’t winning games. The answer lies in the coaching, and I think it will be very clear very soon this year.

I’m ready to wear my burnt orange with pride again, rather than just wearing it because it’s all I have in my closet.

I’m ready to truly be excited about Saturday’s again, instead of trying to give myself a false sense of hope.

I’m ready to enjoy a big victory again and know that it’s not an anomaly.

And yes, in a sick way, I’m ready to hurt for an entire week after a grueling loss.

Losses haven’t hurt the way they used to back in the glory days. And if I’m feeling that as a fan, I would expect similar feelings in the locker room.

I expect Herman to change that attitude quickly. A win is going to feel normal again. A loss is going to feel like the worst thing in the world.

I remember being upset during the 10-win seasons of the Colt McCoy days because the wins “didn’t look good enough.” I’m looking forward to that again under Herman.

But just like it took a little while for losing to become the norm, I think winning will be the same way. The wins won’t feel normal again until the losses really start hurting.

All I can say is, I’m ready for it all with Herman leading the way. Let’s watch some college football and get the Tom Herman era underway at Texas!

Hook’em \m/

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

Texas Longhorns 2017 Game-By-Game Predictions

We are within three weeks from the official opening weekend of college football! There is plenty of hype surrounding the Longhorns program this season with Tom Herman taking over, but is all the hype for real?

I’ve always been a pretty realistic fan and alumnus, so you won’t see many bold predictions here. However, I am expecting huge improvements on many levels this season.

Let’s face it, Charlie Strong won five games last year and basically sleepwalked through the entire season. It’s easy to see why the coaches think they can win 10 games, but I’m not quite there yet.

Here we go…

September 2 – Maryland

Herman’s squad is going to be so amped up for the first game, so I’m expecting plenty of mistakes. But there will also be plenty of fireworks as well. Despite a sloppy game, I think Texas makes fairly easy work of Maryland at home.

Prediction: Texas 34, Maryland 20

September 9 – San Jose State

San Jose State wasn’t a very good team last year, but neither was Texas. This should be a game where the Longhorns have their backups in by the middle of the third quarter. However, there’s always the chance the players are looking ahead to next week.

Prediction: Texas 55, San Jose State 13

September 16 – at USC

Consider this the first game where Tom Herman can make his presence known at Texas, around the Big 12 and nationally. USC will be a top-five team, and Texas could make a jump into the top 15 if things play out the right way the first two games. Sam Darnold is the favorite to win the Heisman for a reason, so the Texas defense is going to be challenged significantly by the USC quarterback. Shane Buechele will have to match the level of play in order for Texas to have a chance in this one.

Prediction: USC 33, Texas 27

September 28 – at Iowa State

Luckily the Horns have a week off to regroup after USC and before conference play begins. It’s always good to start off conference play against Iowa State, but playing in Ames on a Thursday night is always scary. This one will be no different, but Texas will escape this one.

Prediction: Texas 27, Iowa State 19

October 7 – Kansas State

This game starts a stretch of three consecutive games playing the preseason top-three teams in the conference, as voted by the media. Getting Kansas State at home will be huge. I finally feel like Texas has a coach who can outsmart Bill Snyder, so I feel pretty good about this one for some reason.

Prediction: Texas 35, Kansas State 17

October 14 – Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl)

It’s been nearly a decade since there’s been a more hyped and anticipated Red River Rivalry game. New OU coach Lincoln Riley against new Texas coach Tom Herman. The fact that Texas nearly beat OU all three years of the Strong era (but only winning one) makes me feel like the Longhorns can pull this one out. I’m going with my gut instead of my head on this one.

Prediction: Texas 33, Oklahoma 30

October 21 – Oklahoma State

If Texas is 5-1 at this point, the burnt orange koolaid will be flowing big time in Austin. But I don’t think starting the year at  6-1 is realistic. Oklahoma State is my pick to win the conference this year, and they will be too much for Texas following an emotional Red River Rivalry game.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Texas 21

October 28 – at Baylor

I have no idea what to think of Baylor. But the fact that Strong’s team beat them two out of three years gives me plenty of confidence that Herman’s squad will take care of business.

Prediction: Texas 26, Baylor 23

November 4 – at TCU

TCU has had Texas’ number recently, thats no secret. Going to Fort Worth is going to be tough. Even though I think Texas is the better team with more talent, TCU has confidence when playing Texas. I think it’ll continue again this year.

Prediction: TCU 30, Texas 20

November 11 – Kansas

Texas. Will. Not. Lose. To. Kansas. Again. This. Year.

Prediction: Texas 63, Kansas 10

November 18 – at West Virginia

West Virginia is a wild card team for me this year. They could be really good or really bad. The experts think they will finish in the bottom half of the conference, but I’m not so sure. Any trip to Morgantown is tough, and this one will be too.

Prediction: West Virginia 24, Texas 16

November 24 – Texas Tech

Thank goodness this game has finally been moved off of Thanksgiving Day. Now it will be played on Friday, which is where it belongs. Kliff Kingsbury is on the hot seat at Tech and I don’t see him making his seat much cooler throughout the year. This could be the game that sends him packing his bags when he gets back to Lubbock.

Prediction: Texas 48, Texas Tech 27

So there you have it. I have Texas going 8-4 this year. There will be plenty of ups and downs, but more ups than we’ve seen the past several years.

Could the Longhorns win 10 games? Sure.

Could the Longhorns win 6 games? I would be surprised, but it is possible.

Until the team figures out how to win and deal with success, I’ll have a hard time believing they can win 10 games this year. But finishing with an 8-4 record shows improvement, and that’ll be enough to keep recruiting momentum going into the offseason and set up for a big 2018 season.

Do you know any Longhorns fans who would be upset with an 8-4 finish when it’s all said and done this year?

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons