HOUSTON — The 2014 season is now over for the Texas Longhorns and head coach Charlie Strong, putting a historically miserable season permanently away in the books.
It’s hard to explain just how deceiving the 6-7 record really is for that school in Austin, but the exercise will be tried anyway.
Since the Texas football program began in 1893, no Longhorns team had ever lost five games by 20 or more points in a single season.
That changed in 2014.
The streak ended after a train wreck of a Monday night bowl game, as the Burnt Orange Nation watched a team that couldn’t fight its way out of a wet paper bag as the Arkansas Razorbacks pummeled the Longhorns 31-7.
The loss also meant just the second losing season for Texas in 16 years.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that loss probably couldn’t have been worse. Stagnant couldn’t even begin to describe the offense, as the Longhorns mustered a pitiful 59 yards of total offense on 43 plays.
It’s harder to decide what stat is more embarrassing for Texas: their two yards of rushing on 18 carries, their average of 1.4 yards per offensive play, or their four straight 3-and-out drives that went for negative yardage.
Regardless of the opinion, the horrific performance was not lost on Texas’ head man, who was uncharacteristically venting and raving after the game.
“We’ve got to get the pride back in the program,” Strong said in his post-game conference. “Texas has got to mean something. Right now it doesn’t mean much.”
The Texas Longhorns still have a long way to get to where they need to be, and Charlie Strong knows that.
But if there is a man to do the proper rebuilding job of Texas, there’s likely no better candidate than Charlie Strong to do it.
There’s no doubting that Strong is a disciplinarian who knows how to get results. There’s no doubting that he’s still in the massive process of making Texas’ locker room a home for a humble and determined team again.
And given his record, there’s no doubting that Charlie Strong will find a way to make the program rise again.
After a 15-21 stretch under Steve Kragthorpe that resulted in no bowl games for the Louisville Cardinals, Charlie Strong left his coordinator position with the Florida Gators to make work happen.
Under Strong’s guidance, the Cardinals went to four bowl games, including an upset BCS win in the 2012 Sugar Bowl, and developed a first-round drafted NFL quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.
Strong was able to do it in Louisville, and there’s no reason he can’t do it again in Austin. All the man needs right now is time, and the ability to develop his offensive talent.
In a way, this Texas team has many similarities with the 2013 TCU Horned Frogs team — both teams failed to meet expectations by using offenses about as efficient as a gridlocked Congressional hearing, despite some strong defenses.
One year and some coaching changes later though, TCU took the same offensive team to a fierce scoring machine that won a share of the Big 12 title.
It’s not that crazy to think Texas could reach that same plateau again as well.
Will it require a new coordinator? Maybe. Will it need a JUCO transfer at quarterback? Perhaps.
Whatever the answer is, Charlie Strong is more than capable of figuring it out and getting Texas its pride back.
For now, the Longhorns can be thankful that 2014 is over, and have hope that 2015 can bring Texas a better year.
J.D. Moore is the Online Editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and 257-0318.