Texas coach Tom Herman said the Longhorns would celebrate Saturday’s 28-21 win over Tulsa because “winning is hard and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
But the victory, and how it was accomplished, produced as many questions as it did answers.
After the victory, Herman answered questions about why his team played so well in the first half but struggled in the third quarter against an opponent it was favored to beat by three touchdowns. Herman blamed himself for the struggles, saying afterward that he “wanted to make sure that we didn’t get complacent at halftime.”
Texas (1-1) roared off to a great start, scoring touchdowns on two of its first three possessions and on three of its six drives before halftime while holding Tulsa scoreless. And the Longhorns had another drive that ended without a score after failing in two plays from the Tulsa 2-yard-line.
They looked like world-beaters, while dominating a team that they should have had an easy time with.
Things changed completely in the third quarter, as the Longhorns managed 36 total yards in four possessions that ended in three punts and a fumble by quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
“I wanted to make sure that we came out and played hard,” Herman explained. “I was pretty hard on our guys at halftime, and I think you sensed a little bit of that pressing again. So, we’ve got to remember what brought us to that point of being up 21-0, and that was playing loose and playing care free.
“And what did I say? I was disappointed with not being able to punch it in on the goal line. That was disappointing. And that we had given up some big plays on defense. Instead of being happy and having fun about being up 21-0, you know, I wanted to ensure that against complacency. You know, lesson learned.”
Texas needs to find a way to discard its Jekyll-and-Hyde personality before next week’s game with Southern Cal, a contest that was one of the preseason highlights of the college football calendar, but has lost a bit of luster as both teams have early defeats. USC lost to Stanford 17-3 in week two and likely won’t be ranked in this week’s polls.
–Steve Habel (@SteveHabel), Field Level Media