Posted on September 2, 2017, by Travis Pulver
It was not too surprising when the Texas Longhorns let Charlie Strong go after last season it was not much of a surprise. When they hired Tom Herman, one of the hottest names in college football, away from the University of Houston, it was not much of a surprise. The performance Herman’s Longhorns gave in the season opener, and home opener, Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins, however.
That was a surprise.
Most expected to see the offense at least be vastly improved from last season with the offensive-minded Herman in charge. But that was not the case at all. Texas led briefly in the first quarter after Holton Hill returned an interception 31-yards for a touchdown, but it was all done hill from there.
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Maryland tied the game up at 7-7 midway through the quarter and took a 30-14 lead into halftime. The Longhorns would get it together in the third quarter and close the gap to three, 37-34. But then a turnover on downs set the Terrapins up around midfield early in the fourth quarter leading to a touchdown by Kasim Hill.
Down by ten with half a quarter left to play, it wasn’t looking good for the Longhorns. But with Shane Buechele’s passing game, they still had a shot. They just needed to generate some offense. Instead, they went three and out, but the defense forced Maryland into one as well—so there was still a chance.
But with five minutes to play there was no longer any room for error. Four plays later they turned the ball over on downs.
Both teams tacked on another touchdown to make the final score 51-41, Maryland.
“I told our guys, never get used to this feeling, but that if we all thought that we were going to come in here and in nine months sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we’ve arrived, then we’re wrong,” Herman said (ESPN).
Buechele didn’t have a bad day (34-53 for 375 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception). Wide receiver Collin Johnson appeared as if he could be the breakout target Buechle needs (seven receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown). But the running game was practically useless (98 total yards).
The unit wasn’t expected to struggle with Chris Warren III back (and healthy). But the 6’4”, 250-lb junior only managed to gain 31 yards on six carries. But the fault certainly doesn’t lie entirely with the running game. The defense gave up nearly 500 yards including 263 yards on the ground. When you can’t stop the run, it is kind of hard to win no matter what level of the game you are talking about.
For some crazy reason, the voters thought a team that was 5-7 last year would become good enough to be ranked in the top 25 just because they changed head coaches. Sure enough—they were wrong.
Texas will need to figure out how to deal with the mental lapses, miscues, and turnovers pretty fast. They play San Jose State next weekend before embarking on a five-game stretch where they play four ranked teams including three top-ten squads (No. 4 USC on 9/16, No. 7 Oklahoma on 10/14, and No. 10 Oklahoma State on 10/21).
Maryland will try to keep the good times rolling next week against Towson.