Their 7-6 record during the 2017 season might not have shown it, but the Texas Longhorns were competitive in the majority of their games in Tom Herman’s first year as the program’s coach.
Texas was either tied or owned a fourth-quarter lead in four of the six games the Longhorns lost a season ago. That included an overtime loss at USC in Week 3 before 60 minutes once again weren’t enough to determine a winner against Oklahoma State in late October.
Needless to say, getting the job done when it counts will be a point of emphasis for Texas during the 2018 campaign. Per the Dallas Morning News’ Chuck Carlton, Herman said during the recent Big 12 spring meetings that, “We have to learn how to finish.”
Herman added that while the close outcomes from last fall might be an indicator of promise on the horizon, “There are no moral victories” when it comes to playing football on the 40 Acres.
Missed it by that much
While the Longhorns seemingly came out of the gate unprepared for their season opener against Maryland in a 51-41 loss, Texas did pull within three late in the third quarter. The Longhorns opened the scoring with a 31-yard pick-6 by defensive back Holton Hill, but never led beyond the 8:28 mark in the first quarter.
Two weeks after the stunning home defeat, Texas took a three-point lead at USC in the final minute of regulation after freshmen quarterback Sam Ehlinger, making the second start of his career, found Armanti Foreman for a 17-yard touchdown. But the Trojans tied it on a field goal as time expired before besting the Longhorns in overtime.
Fast-forward to Oct. 14: Texas overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to take a one-point lead against Oklahoma with 8:01 remaining. That lead, however, lasted just more than a minute. Quarterback Baker Mayfield found tight end Mark Andrews for a 59-yard touchdown pass that put the Sooners up for good, 29-24.
One week after the heartbreak in the Red River Showdown, Texas limited the high-flying Oklahoma State offense to 10 points in regulation in Austin. The Cowboys, however, also held the Longhorns to 10 points before a field goal was enough for Oklahoma State to secure a 13-10 overtime win.
In the final week of the regular season, Texas was doomed against Texas Tech when Ehlinger was intercepted late as Texas carried a 23-20 lead. Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek found receiver Cameron Batson with just under 2 minutes to play for a 16-yard touchdown, handing the Longhorns a 27-23 loss on home turf.
History can’t be changed. But Texas can hope to change that narrative of failing to finish once the 2018 campaign arrives. The Longhorns face Maryland and USC once again as part of nonconference play this fall, so there won’t be a shortage of familiar opponents from a year ago.
The Longhorns will be seeking to reach eight wins for the first time since 2013, Mack Brown’s final year as the team’s coach. Texas begins the season against Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 1, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.