There have been a lot of low points for the Texas offense in 2014 with Tyrone Swoopes at quarterback. The 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl might be rock bottom for the Longhorns and Charlie Strong, not getting the debut season he dreamed of when taking the role of head coach.
The Longhorns finish the season at 6-7, their first losing season since 2010 and only the second time they’ve finished below .500 since 1997. Sure, the retirement of David Ash hurt the preparations and Strong knew his first season at the helm wasn’t going to be an easy one. But some of the performances this season and the way the offense was simply shut down and obliterated in the bowl game was the stuff football nightmares are made of.
Arkansas finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011, as the work of Brett Bielema is finally bearing some fruit. The Razorbacks close 2014 with four wins in the final six games, including the shutting out of LSU and Ole Miss. It wasn’t far from happening against Texas, holding the Longhorns to only 59 offensive yards – 57 in the air by Swoopes, who was intercepted once, and two more on the ground, as Swoopes finished with five carries for a negative 32 yards. Arkansas had 41:10 minutes of possession. Hard to lose with those numbers.
Offense hasn’t been a big part of the Razorbacks M.O. this season, but in Bielema fashion, running was a big part of their success in this game. Jonathan Williams ran for 105 yards and a touchdown as Arkansas finished with 191 yards on 50 carries. They got help from a fumble return touchdown on the Texas goalline and with the Longhorns getting only seven first downs in this game, it wasn’t difficult for Brandon Allen to manage a lot of short field situations, throwing two touchdown passes.
For Arkansas, this might be the beginning of the climb back up the ladder in the gauntlet of the SEC West. It might take more than one year because of their schedule next season, taking them through too many tough road games to feel confident about. Texas are in building mode as well, but this season showed Strong might have a lot more work of cleaning house to do before he puts the Longhorns back on the track they’ve gotten used to and expect.