Texas’ margin for error was slim, with five losses and thin bowl chances entering Saturday’s game against West Virginia.
The margin and bowl chances decreased as the turnovers piled up and the Longhorns walked off the field with a 38-20 loss to the Mountaineers.
“We had five turnovers and a number of penalties,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “It’s tough to win a game, especially on the road. We played well enough and if we could just eliminate some mistakes that we made. … We can only continue to just battle. We have two more left, and we just have to continue to work to get better.”
Texas could’ve opened the game with a touchdown when redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard found the end zone on a run, but it was called back on a holding penalty by freshman offensive tackle Connor Williams. The Longhorns would get on the board first with a 31-yard field goal by senior kicker Nick Rose.
The momentum was in Texas’ favor as the defense began the game with an interception from freshman cornerback Davante Davis and continued by forcing two punts. But the momentum was gone when West Virginia redshirt senior Jared Barber scooped a fumble by Texas sophomore running back D’Onta Foreman and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown.
Foreman redeemed himself on the following possession with a 65-yard touchdown run. But the Longhorns’ woes would continue. Junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes fumbled in Mountaineer territory in the second quarter. Freshman cornerback Kris Boyd fumbled on a kickoff return in the third quarter.
Texas had its fate sealed when Heard threw two fourth quarter interceptions.
“I didn’t do good,” Heard said. “I threw those two picks. When you take two turnovers that hurts the team.”
The Longhorns needed to come out fast, as they entered the game 0-3 in road games. Texas did what it needed to do by scoring first and out-gaining West Virginia 439-379. But the turnovers and seven penalties for 55 yards added a new wrinkle to the team’s road problems.
“That’s what’s frustrating when you turn the ball over so many times and you’re on the road, and you have to protect the football, knowing that you can’t turn it over,” Strong said. “You just can’t do it. You can’t do it against a good football team.”
Texas wide receiver coach and play-caller Jay Norvell said the loss was frustrating because he felt the Longhorns were capable of winning.
“It’s very frustrating,” Norvell said. “We feel we have some capable kids, and we did a lot of things we haven’t done on the road before.”
Texas now has six losses and has to win its final two games if it wants to make a bowl game.
“We still have a chance,” Strong said.
But the chances are slim as the Longhorns play the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked offenses in the country in Baylor and Texas Tech next.
If Texas doesn’t find a way to win its final two games, it’ll finish with its third losing season in six years.