Growing up during the Mack Brown era, winning seasons was a way of life. It so happens that the first season I actually remember is the year Vince Young scrambled for a 9 yard touchdown on 4th down to defeat USC in the National Championship Game.
The 8 years that followed featured 4- 10 win seasons, 7 bowl game appearances, 5 bowl wins, 1 National Championship appearance, and only 1 losing season. Since Mack Brown resigned after the 2013 Alamo Bowl, Texas has had two 5-win seasons and two head coaches.
After hiring Tom Herman from Houston last January, Texas fans were already talking about the College Football Playoff. Herman had compiled a 22-4 record in 2 years as the head coach of the Houston Cougars. Fans expected Herman to replicate those 2 years in his first year at the helm of the Longhorn football program. Unfortunately for Longhorn fans, this was not the case.
The first game under Tom Herman started with a bang. Maryland’s quarterback Tyrell Pigrome threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Holton Hill. After that, it was all Maryland. Maryland scored 27 unanswered points and Texas fans’ morales changed in an instant. Texas ended up dropping their first game under Tom Herman 51-41. Questions circulated about offensive/defensive play calling, the personnel being used, and issues with the kicking game.
Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a season that no one expected.
Tim Beck’s offense displayed little to no progress throughout the year. It’s ridiculous. The same plays were called time and time again, regardless of the success rate. They had trouble finishing drives in the end zone, closing out drives with 6 points became something Horns fans could only dream of, especially from inside the red zone.
Speaking of the wondrous 6 points, the Longhorns couldn’t rely on kicker Josh Rowland to put up 3 points. Rowland finished the year 10 of 17 on field goal attempts with 2 of them being blocked.
On a higher note, Todd Orlando’s defense progressed significantly throughout the season. After giving up 51 points in the season opener, the next highest number of points they gave up was 34. They held five ranked teams to under 30 points, yet only one of those games was capped off with a victory.
Junior punter Michael Dickson was my MVP for the Horns this season. Dickson, a Ray Guy Award Finalist for the second time, punted 73 times with 32 downed inside the 20 yard line, 34 punts of 50-yards or more, and a long of 76 yards. As great of a player as Dickson is, the punter is never thought of to be the team MVP. Throughout this season, there was one constant: Dickson’s incredible punting abilities.
The first year under Tom Herman was unexpected to say the least. Reaching a bowl game for the first time in 3 years will hopefully be a confidence booster going into next season. All of this being said, I have faith in Tom Herman moving forward. He is a proven coach with an excellent track record and I believe he is the right man for the job. The freshman class, led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, has the potential to lead Texas back in to the college football spotlight that Horns fans dream of year after year.