If Texas was looking for an opportunity to flip its season’s momentum, it had one Saturday night.
After last week’s loss to BYU left a damp, dark mood around the program, the Longhorns found themselves just three minutes away from beating a top-15 opponent at AT&T Stadium. However, once again, Texas failed to capitalize on its opportunities, adding another loss on its schedule.
If the Longhorns want to get rid of those losses, they will need to capitalize on all opportunities, early and often.
The mistakes started early for the Longhorns Saturday. In the opening coin toss, the senior captains — defensive end Desmond Jackson and running back Malcolm Brown — got a little confused on how the process worked. After winning the toss, UCLA elected to defer to the second half, leaving Texas to choose to either receive or kick off in the first half. The captains chose to kick off, giving UCLA the ball to begin both halves.
Although the mistake didn’t seem to affect the outcome of the contest, the Longhorns lost a possession that could have helped.
Throughout the game, Texas made other mistakes that were more costly. The Longhorns went into halftime with a 10-3 lead and all of the momentum on their side. That momentum didn’t stick around long enough.
Late in the fourth quarter, UCLA, driving downfield toward its game-winning touchdown, fumbled and gave the ball back to Texas. The Longhorns just had to take time off the clock and cruise into the last few minutes for a victory over the No. 12 Bruins.
Instead, Texas remained devoid of any consistency on its next drive, going three-and-out and allowing UCLA to take the lead with a late touchdown.
“There is no doubt this is a missed opportunity,” senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “We didn’t capitalize on what we should have capitalized on. We have to do better in those situations, and we just have to get back to grinding.”
Heading into a bye week, Texas will need to focus on consistency and capitalizing on opportunities to keep the hope of a bowl game alive. Two of the Longhorns’ next three games are against top-ranked opponents, which could leave the Longhorns with a 2-4 record mid-season in head coach Charlie Strong’s first year in Austin.
“Well, you saw week one we end up winning, and week two we didn’t play so well,” Strong said. “And you get into this week and you have a chance to go out there and finish this game. We just didn’t finish it. And it was a top opponent. … And we’ve got to continue to move forward and just get better and better.”