Over the course of nine games, we’ve seen three or four incarnations of this Texas football team.
It all started where it left off in 2010, with Garrett Gilbert at the helm and a team that knew it would have to heavily rely on the defense to win games. Two games later, the Longhorns experimented with the sometimes-hot, sometimes-cold dual-quarterback system. It worked against BYU and was blown up against Oklahoma. Then the team reinvented itself again by giving Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Fozzy Whittaker the ball and cramming it down opponent’s throats, until injury to all three derailed that version.
So now we are here with Version 4.0 of the team unveiling itself in game 10 of the season, Senior Night, and some may ask what role the seniors have had in all this transition. After all, they were playing for a National Championship two years ago, but when it was their turn to take over the squad as upperclassmen, the team went 5-7 in their junior year and has been on a roller coaster of up and downs this season. As freshmen, the were brought up in a culture of winning by their elder peers, but didn’t quite fully get how to win on their own at first.
But look closer and you’ll see that this senior class has led the team in ways that work beyond immediate output on the field. They learned an entirely new defense and offense than the one they knew for three years and have worked to not only perfect it on the field, but teach it to their eventual replacements. And the best part about it is that they are more than happy to do it.
Senior running back Fozzy Whittaker, the heartbeat of the Longhorn team, said he was embarrassed by how he and his team played last season and wanted to help right the wrongs that Texas faced.
“The senior leaders of this team were going to make sure that we didn’t let that happen again, and we were going to find a way, brick-by-brick, build a new foundation to build up this team so that we’re stronger than ever,” Whittaker said.
He will continue to lead players such as Bergeron and Brown from the sidelines, and surely the lessons he’s taught them will impact the youngsters throughout their Longhorn careers.
Between the barrage of injuries, the shuffling of quarterbacks, and the youth of the team, Texas has conducted one of the most comprehensive trial-and-error system’s in the country this year. But the one constant variable in this experiment of a year was the senior class and its mission to lay the foundation for future Longhorn teams, rather than feeling the self-entitlement that many criticize Texas players for.
Unlike past senior classes, this one will not go out as consummate winners. They will go out as the squad that ushered in a new era of Texas football. One defined by their willingness to accept that success is a process.
No matter how the season ends up for them, the senior class has done it’s fair share of heavy lifting this year and have built a legacy that will last for seasons to come.