The football gods have finally answered the Longhorns’ prayers.
With the clock at zero, senior quarterback Case McCoy reared back and tossed a 44-yard floater into the end zone, which a crowd of white and red jerseys surrounded like eager sharks waiting for wounded prey. Miraculously, the ball dropped straight into redshirt junior wide receiver John Harris’ hands.
The rarest play in football, the Hail Mary, made an appearance, and Texas entered the half with a 17-13 lead that it had no business owning.
The laws of momentum say the Longhorns were sure to capitalize, but much like the sense of entitlement that proclaims Texas to be a powerhouse, laws and ideas don’t seem to apply for this era of Longhorn football. The team began the third quarter with the ball and promptly fell flat. It was only thanks to a last-minute drive filled with blunders, flags and fumbles that yanked Texas out of Ames, Iowa with a victory.
The players and coaching staff reacted with jubilation, but it had to be more from a sense of relief than accomplishment. Texas is supposed to beat Iowa State; It has only lost to the Cyclones once in program history. Nevertheless, the effort and performance Thursday night didn’t reflect a team with that level of confidence.
Part of that is on the players. Actually, more of it should be heaped upon them than will be in the coming days.
But the real onus is on a coaching staff. For a team in a cyclone of criticism over the past month, a trip to Ames should have been a welcome break.
Iowa State is a good football team, but by no means a squad with the caliber of players the Longhorns trot out on a daily basis. Still, for some reason, the Longhorns were outplayed.
A series of fortunate breaks and a gutsy senior quarterback pushed Texas through the fire, but the heat won’t be extinguished anytime soon. The first domino for a changing of the guard fell Tuesday when men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced he will retire at the end of the year, and this one-point victory only slowed the count until the next one falls.
Maybe it will be head coach Mack Brown, possibly co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, or more likely, both. Either way, this team seems to be swimming forward only to have the current to come along and wash them back.
For now, Brown and an iteration of Longhorn seniors who have never cracked double digits wins in a season keep floating.
Can they keep it up?
Realistically, not for long. Oklahoma will slaughter Texas if it plays in a similar fashion at the Cotton Bowl, as will TCU the following week. As is the nature of the Big 12, it doesn’t get any easier from there.
A Hail Mary or two would certainly aid the team’s efforts, but unfortunately for Brown and Texas, prayers aren’t often answered twice.
If you look closely, the next domino is starting to tip. It’s only a matter of time.