Tom Herman is a fiery guy, even in his usual Monday press conference, whether or not the Longhorns win or lose.
This week was different.
The Longhorns suffered their fourth loss of the season on a last-second field goal Saturday on the road against Iowa State. They have lost at least four games in every season for the last decade.
“We have not played to the level of our expectations,” Herman said. “If you’re a fan of us, you probably have very similar expectations, and we haven’t met those expectations thus far. I guess they have every right to have that opinion.”
Texas went three-and-out on its final drive on Saturday before the Cyclones marched down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal, something the Longhorns have done twice this season.
“When you lose a game, any game, you’re out-coached,” Herman said. “From player execution to play calls and tendencies. You name it. All of it is on us.”
With just two games left in the regular season, the Longhorns’ chances of getting to the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington are complex and very unlikely.
Texas next travels to Waco to face off against No. 13 Baylor Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Bears lost their first game of the season on Saturday, blowing a massive first-quarter lead and falling to No. 8 Oklahoma.
“I’m sure you want to know where we go from here,” Herman said. “We’ve still got a bunch of seniors in that locker room that has bled, sweat and cried for this program. We owe it to them to correct the mistakes that were made and do our best to go 1-0 against Baylor this week.”
Texas’ running game averaged just over two yards per carry against Iowa State, but the return of Junior Angilau on the offensive line should help that stat improve.
Defensive back Anthony Cook will most likely miss the rest of the regular season with a leg injury, and senior receiver Collin Johnson is still doubtful with a hamstring injury that forced him to sit out the game against the Cyclones.
Even at full strength, the Bears have proven this season that they can win the close games the Longhorns can’t.
Baylor (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12) beat Texas Tech 33-30 in double overtime and downed TCU in triple overtime a couple of weeks ago. Six of the Bears’ 10 games have been decided by one possession or less.
Motivation is not an issue.
“These guys are competitors, and losing is embarrassing,” Herman said. “Nobody wants to lose. You appeal to every fiber of competitiveness that they have in them.”
There was a sense last season when the Longhorns were leaving New Orleans after winning the Sugar Bowl when it really felt like Texas was, indeed, ‘back.’ That feeling even lingered after the loss to now top-ranked LSU.
The physical identity of Texas football is nonexistent.
“We haven’t coached it well enough,” Herman said. “We have not played to the level of physicality consistently. That is our expectation, and that’s our job to coach it better.”