Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: Texas remains bad in 2017 just like 2016, but hey, how ’bout those lockers?

Posted September 2nd, 2017

Story highlights
  • Texas had won just 16 of its last 37 games and lost to a Maryland team that had won just 16 of its last 38 games
  • Tom Herman had called his offensive and defensive lines the strengths of his team, but neither held up well against the Terrapins.
  • "It just turns your stomach," junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said.

Nothing’s changed.

Oh, the Longhorns locker rooms have. They’re much snazzier. Did you know they have these neat fans that cool off their shoulder pads?

The video board at Royal-Memorial Stadium is much improved. So much clarity.

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The sound system? It’s to kill for.

Even the name on the door of the new head coach’s office is different.

But the Texas football team? It’s still the stuck-in-the-mud same.

And now it’s looking systemic. Tom Herman, the first Texas coach to lose his debut since John Mackovic in 1992, was downright numbed by a 51-41 beatdown against Maryland, a middling Big Ten team. He said afterward that he wished he hadn’t prophesied so much. He’s right. He should have coached more.

I fully expected him to come out with a hell-fire and brimstone evaluation and publicly lay into a team that has won 16 of its last 38 games, especially after it just got blown out — and forget the respectable margin, it was decisive  — by a Terrapins team that had won, well, just 16 of its last 38 games.

Herman didn’t, maybe because he fears his team was far too fragile to cope with a tongue-lashing it deserved. Hard to blame him because I’m not sure the Longhorns could beat the Little Sisters of the Poor, much less the Big Sisters of the Poor. Remember, Texas has lost its last four games counting last year’s three-game losing streak that cost Charlie Strong his job, and it has dropped three home games in a row.

About that cake already being baked, Charlie, wrong dessert choice. What he left Herman more resembles the famous pie in “The Help.”

Texas fan Zebbie Anzalduda clasps his hands together as he hopes Texas can come from behind and defeat Maryland. The Texas Longhorns open their 2017 football season under new head coach Tom Herman as they take on Maryland in Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium Saturday September 2, 2017.
RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In an auspicious season opener, Texas was outsmarted, outplayed, outcoached, out-disciplined, outhustled and any other out you can name. Other than wide receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, who spectacularly caught everything thrown his way and ran back a punt 91 yards for a touchdown, and cornerback Holton Hill, who scored a pair of touchdowns on an interception and a blocked field goal return, the Longhorns were star-less.

“We can’t seem to get out of our own way,” Herman said. “We’re our own worst enemy.”

The Longhorns are. And they have enough on their hands with the enemy on the opposite sideline.

As recently as Monday, Herman said the strengths of the team were the offensive and defensive lines. Wrong.

On Saturday, the offensive line couldn’t dent Maryland’s front for more than 98 yards on the ground. Part of that was by design, Herman said, because the Terps were stacked against the run. But that didn’t explain the failure of the swing pass-happy offense to put up a single point on the scoreboard until the 38th minute of the game.

That touted defensive line was gashed over and over by two terrific runners in quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome and legit tailback Ty Johnson for 263 yards rushing. The Terps were so potent running the ball, they bothered to pass just 15 times out of boredom.

So much for being the more physical team. And don’t forget that Maryland was outscored 121-6 by Ohio State and Michigan last season, so it’s not an elite opponent. It’s picked by most to finish next-to-last in the Big Ten East just ahead of Rutgers.

Texas’ QB Shane Buechele eludes the pass rush against Maryland. The Texas Longhorns open their 2017 football season under new head coach Tom Herman as they take on Maryland in Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium Saturday September 2, 2017.
RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What should now sink in to Herman is this is even more drastically a rebuild job than he first expected. These are by and large the same players that lost to Kansas and haven’t played in a bowl game since 2014.

“It just turns my stomach,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said.

“I’m pretty down,” left tackle Connor Williams said.

The Longhorns incessantly referred to the “self-inflicted wounds,” but what were they? Texas had two turnovers, Maryland one. Each team blocked a field goal and ran it back for a score. What was self-inflicted? Texas’ overconfidence?

Herman may have a monumental task in front of him. Texas has talked a good game but the only thing more meaningless than August bluster are boxing press conferences. Many of us fell victim to all the chest-pounding, including this writer who forecasted a 9-3 season.

“If we thought we’re coming here and in nine months sprinkle some magic fairy dust and think we’ve arrived, we were wrong,” he said. “Obviously not the result that any of us wanted or expected. But that’s a really good football team coached by D.J. Durkin. They’re going to win a lot of games this year.”

Maybe they will. Texas, on the other hand, had better hope it can scrape together at least six victories out of a schedule that will pit it against a bunch of teams more formidable than Maryland. Six wins are no sure thing. Kansas looms ahead.

For one highly, highly disappointing Saturday, nothing’s changed.

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