AMES, Ia. — There’s a black cloud over the Longhorns and as of now they’re left with more questions than answers.
Iowa State handed Texas a 30-7 beatdown Saturday and exposed a lot of weaknesses. Coach Steve Sarkisian’s first campaign with the program is on life support and he can’t stop the bleeding. After all, the Longhorns are riding a four-game losing streak in Big 12 play for the first time since 2010.
It’s no mystery the second half hasn’t been kind to Texas this fall. In the Longhorns’ five losses, they’ve been outscored a combined 126-48 in the second half. That comes down to coaching and it’s clear to say Sarkisian is struggling with making adjustments.
Not to mention Texas’ seven points was its’ lowest total in the past 50 games. Texas (4-5) was abysmal offensively, and finished with a season-low, 207 total yards.
“Clearly we were getting banged up, but our guys stepped in and played,” Sarkisian said. “We just couldn’t generate enough offensively, but it wasn’t for lack of competing.”
Hudson Card took most of the snaps at quarterback, but Sarkisian also played Casey Thompson and neither generated any rhythm. Iowa State’s defense sacked Card four times and put Thompson to the turf once. Running back Bijan Robinson was having a decent game until he got injured in the second half. He finished with 90 yards on the ground and led the team with eight catches.
No other Longhorn besides Robinson caught more than two passes, and the Cyclones’ defense smelled blood in the water because they were so one-dimensional. Texas only moved the sticks 11 times, and that’s what frustrated Sarkisian the most.
“We just could not get a first down to change any of the field position or the momentum,” he said. “They were the better team, they controlled the game, they won the game.”
On defense the Longhorns held their own in the first half, but the floodgates opened up over the last two quarters. Texas’ defense got caught slipping on a trick play that resulted in a touchdown and Iowa State’s running back Breece Hall had two third quarter rushing scores.
Texas’ defense didn’t get much penetration in the backfield, and as a result the unit allowed a 100-yard rusher for the fifth-straight game. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Cyclones had all of the momentum, were up by three scores and the sold out crowd of 61,500 at Jack Trice Stadium were chanting S.E.C.
The Longhorns lost their third-straight to the Cyclones, and the chants were a reminder that Sarkisian’s team is the league’s most hated. Despite the lopsided loss, Sarkisian is proud that his players kept their heads high. There’s nothing like taking that walk of shame back to the locker room, but Sarkisian is hoping the humility helps.
“I thought our guys continued to fight, and I appreciated that,” the 47-year old said. “It’s hard and I feel like we stood tall.”
Now Texas needs to win two of its’ remaining three games to become bowl eligible. That’s a far cry from a team that was ranked 15th in the country two months ago. Sarkisian is just trying to pick up the pieces for the remainder of the slate because nothing comes easy in the Big 12.