Longhorn offense struggles in Fort Worth again

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Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

A purple, frog-designed siren in the southeast corner of the end zone echoed throughout Amon G. Carter Stadium as TCU fans rose to their feet every time Texas faced a third down on Saturday night.

Time and time again, the majority of the 48,042 fans erupted after the Horned Frogs’ defense repeatedly stopped the Longhorns, and one more time for good measure when the result was sealed.

Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele dropped back on fourth-and-19 with 1:27 remaining in the game. Buechele launched a pass to senior wide receiver Dorian Leonard, but the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.

The Longhorns watched No. 8 TCU kneel the ball and headed toward the locker room with the scoreboard displaying Texas’ worst offensive performance of the year: TCU 24, Texas 7.

“They were good, they're a good team,” Buechele said. “They’re ranked the way they are for a reason but offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot … they were a good team, but that’s on us.”

TCU found the end zone early, but not often. The Horned Frogs stunned the usually stout Longhorn defense after jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first half. Texas found itself down 10-0 when it opted to send junior kicker Joshua Rowland, who is now 7-for-14, onto the field to attempt a 47-yard field goal.

The ball left Rowland’s foot and soared through the air. Moments later, TCU celebrated as the referees motioned no good after the ball bounced several yards in front of the goal post. And TCU capitalized. Five plays and 70 yards later, the sea of purple erupted as TCU running back Kyle Hicks crossed the goal line to give the Horned Frogs a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.

However, that was the last time TCU found the scoreboard until the final moments of the game. This allowed Texas to stay within striking distance, but with a struggling offense, it proved to be too much.

“It’s no excuse that that’s the best defense in the conference,” head coach Tom Herman said. “When our defense is playing at the level that they're playing at, we’ve got to do a better job offensively of helping them out.”

Buechele led the Longhorn offense for the second straight week. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger did not suit up after what Herman called “inner-ear problems.”

Texas’ only points of the game came immediately after the Horned Frogs jumped out to the 17-point lead. Buechele flung the ball 33 yards, and sophomore wide receiver Collin Johnson made an acrobatic catch to give Texas its first and only points of the game.

The Longhorns couldn't approach the vicinity of the end zone for the rest of the game after finishing with -5 rushing yards and just 78 total yards in the second half. However, despite Texas making zero trips to the red zone and giving up seven sacks, junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said he isn’t ready to point fingers.

“You can’t finger point,” Jefferson said. “It’s important that those guys understand and embrace the challenges that we’re putting at their feet, because it’s gonna be very important in these next three weeks that we have these guys energized and ready to go every game.”

Texas’ poor offensive performance now gives TCU a 153-33 advantage over the last four years, but more importantly knocks its record to 4–5 overall, 2–3 Big 12. The Longhorns have now lost three of the last four games with just three contests remaining. Now, as Texas fights for bowl eligibility, two numbers no Longhorn fan wants to see is starting to rise in discussion: 5–7.