The 38-3 loss by the Texas Longhorns against Notre Dame to start the 2015 season wasn’t too big of a surprise. It was just a sad continuation of the decline this massive program is going through, before and during the Charlie Strong tenure, and the biggest question has to be whether this is rock bottom or not?
Going into the season, offense was always going to be the problem for Texas. But they remain with Tyrone Swoopes, a slow quarterback who has awful protection. Texas finished with 163 yards of total offense, worst among all FBS teams in week 1 (although who knows, maybe Virginia Tech and Ohio State can surprise us). They averaged 3.13 yards per play, second worst in the nation behind Kent State.
Sure, Notre Dame have a very good defense, and it might be the best Texas face all season. But scoring just 3 points against any defense, for a marquee program in the Big 12 and college football in general, is a low point many didn’t think they’d reach under Strong.
But looking back at their recent games including last season, there’s nothing surprising about it. Texas lost to Arkansas in the bowl game 31-7, following getting crushed 48-10 by TCU in the regular season finisher. They also scored just 7 points in another home beatdown against BYU, held to 7 points at home by Baylor and were shutout by Kansas State. In their last three games they’ve been outscored 117-20.
At this stage and their condition, there are no more easy games for Texas. A three-game homestand against Rice, California and Oklahoma State is anything but automatic. Then comes a trio of games against TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State. If Texas reach the Iowa State game at the end of October with three losses or less, that’s going to be a surprise by the way things look right now.
Maybe Charlie Strong is the man to get them out of this place, but there’s that creeping feeling that he might be even digging a bigger hole for the Longhorns. Two years isn’t always enough to turn things around for a program after years of subpar recruiting and poor player development. But the fact that he’s different than Mack Brown and came in after successful years at Louisville doesn’t immediately turn him into the right choice. Reaching that realization might turn out to be a huge blow for Texas, although it’s still not time to go into full panic mode.