The Regular Season is Over as Texas Falls to TCU, 48-10


Before the Thanksgiving game even started, Longhorn fans in food comas had an occasion to stand despite the tryptophan-induced urge to sink into their seats. On senior night, Texas said an emotional goodbye to its seniors, with a notably melancholy farewell to now-retired junior quarterback David Ash. Once the starter under Coach Charlie Strong’s new regime, Ash retired after a concussion forced him from the starting lineup following the season opener against North Texas.Ash_Strong

On Thursday night, in front of a less-than-full DKR, Ash ran out of the tunnel one final time, his jersey slung over a hoodie and tears welling in his eyes. He and Strong embraced at midfield in a touching display: Not only did Strong allow the non-rostered player one final moment on his home field, but he made a point to find a moment to hug Ash—an important player to fans, but one whom he barely got to know.

And then jet pack man sliced through the night sky, his noisy contraption quelling the lovely moment and waking the sleepy stadium from its slumber. It jarred the Longhorn fans awake long enough to realize, “Uh oh, we’re playing TCU.”

On Thursday night No. 5 TCU (now No. 4) didn’t look like a top-5 team, one that may sneak into the first-ever college football playoffs after decimating Texas, though Texas didn’t look like a top-55 team on Thanksgiving. The mood was dampened just before kickoff, once word spread around the stadium that senior receiver Jaxon Shipley would miss his final home game with a hamstring injury.

Though Shipley hasn’t been the most productive receiver this season for the Longhorns—that would be fellow senior John Harris—his absence was noticeable. Tyrone Swoopes missed his underneath receiver, having to force throws to blanketed wideouts all game to the tune of four interceptions. Quandre Diggs, filling in for Shipley on punt returns, fumbled a punt early in the 4th quarter that set up an easy touchdown run by Horned Frogs QB Trevone Boykin.

A few drives earlier, Swoopes hit Armanti Foreman for a 73-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 27-10. After forcing consecutive punts, it looked possible that Texas could at least salvage a moral victory. That’s when the wheels fell off. Boykin turned it up, scrambling for huge chunks of yardage at will, and then, with the game already out of hand, Swoopes threw his final interception of the day, a pick six that Josh Carraway took to the house.

“Whenever you play a football team like that,” Strong said to open his postgame press conference, “you have to play clean football. We didn’t do it tonight.” When you play a team like Kansas or Texas Tech, you can muff a punt deep in your own territory. Not so against the cream of the Big 12.

It was disheartening—more regression for Swoopes, mental mistakes all around, and a total clunker on senior night—but it’s over now. The regular season is through, and some sort of middle-of-the-road bowl is coming up. Being where Texas is at this point, sitting at 6-6 and barely bowl-eligible, is not an ideal destination year over year, but this was always going to be a rebuilding season, and Strong knows it. There are some bright spots to look forward to: a solid foundation on defense, the emergence of a playmaker in Armanti Foreman, and a coaching regime committed to excellence on and off the field. Despite this forgetful season, there are things to be thankful for.

“You can’t look at 6-6 and say it’s the best, it’s really good, you made improvements,” Strong said after the game. “We have to get better. We know this. But we gotta get this program back to where it’s going to—where it needs to [be] and it’s going to happen. We’ll get it back there.”

Photo of fan by Alan Cundy

Photo of Ash and Strong by Anthony Geronimo via Twitter (@ATXANT10)


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