DALLAS (KXAN) — The Longhorns staged a massive fourth quarter comeback to create an instant classic Red River Showdown on Saturday. Sam Ehlinger completely reversed Texas’ downward trajectory with two touchdowns in the final four minutes, but it wasn’t enough for a Longhorns win.
The Longhorns season is as close to the brink of failure as it can be after a 53-45 quadruple overtime loss to the Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Ehlinger scored all six touchdowns for Texas with four rushing and two passing, but he also threw two interceptions.
In the fourth overtime, Ehlinger’s second interception sealed the game when OU’s Tre Brown caught the pass intended for Tarik Black in the endzone.
Tom Herman has lost to the Sooners four times in five games as the Texas head coach. The Longhorns are now 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12 during the 2020 season with an open date on the schedule next week.
Here’s what Herman said following the loss to the Sooners on Saturday.
“We’ve got to improve with the penalties. We’ve got to improve with the special teams play and we certainly have to improve our gap integrity and we have to find ways to beat man coverage. We have an opportunity to have a good season. We were down. Extremely proud of the resiliency. We’ve got a lot to clean up but we’ve got a lot of season ahead of us.”
- WR Jake Smith – hamstring
- S Caden Sterns – foot injury
- RB Roschon Johnson – shoulder
- S Chris Brown – shoulder
- S Josh Thompson – shoulder
On assessment of penalties
“I would have to address each one individually. Most of them if I had to guess…not trusting your technique and not trusting your training. That comes with repetition and we’ve got to continue to rep the things that we’re deficient at right now. You don’t practice until you get it right, you practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
A lot of of penalties seemed to be self-inflicted
“A lot of them are self-inflicted wounds. I’m disappointed. I do want to tell you guys we had a great week of practice. There were tons of accountability and maturity and had a great week of practice. We have to find a way mentally to translate what we work on and execute in practice to a game. That’s all I know how to do.”
Consider going for two late in fourth quarter?
“Certainly thought about it and talked about it. I thought our offense was playing really well. Certainly at the end of regulation we felt that we were playing good enough defensively. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t put our defense in a bad spot. We were trying to keep them out of the end zone and especially with the way we played at the end of regulation. We opted to continue to play ball.”
Did OU control line of scrimmage and how?
“Yes, I do. They’ve got really good players on both sides of the ball and really good coaches. I don’t know the answer why without watching the film. The answer to did they control it? I think we all know the answer is yes.”
Emotions for Sam Ehlinger after loss
“Crushed. Absolutely crushed that we as a family didn’t do enough…or him to finish his career against these guys the way that he deserved to. I feel like we all let him down. But we don’t get to play the game again. What we can do is make sure that him and everybody else that has earned the right to win at the highest level is…we give them the opportunity. We’re four games into what is hopefully an 11 or 12 game season and we have a lot to play for. Our players know that and nobody knows how this year is going to end up.”
On blocked punt and special teams issues
“We didn’t have the right leverage on the block. The guy that got a hand on it and the punter held on to the football too long. I can’t tell you how many times we drilled out punt team this week. It is uncountable and we have to go back to the drawing board and this has not happened in the six years we’ve had this punt protection. We’ve got to cover too. We gave up a 40-yard return that could’ve been a back breaker…it’s very frustrating.”
How many of the mistakes are on coaching? Will there be a change at punter?
“They’re all on coaching. When players don’t execute, coaches have to find ways to allow them to. We don’t…our back-up punter is Cameron Dicker right now so we’ve got to find a way. This is it. We thought we found a way and we didn’t. We’ve got to get it fixed.”
On if this team has the right player leadership?
“I think we’ve got a solid core of leaders that do things the right way. Are we deficient in some areas? Yeah, we are. We know what those areas are and we’re going to get those areas better or we’ll find replacements that can get better. Any time you’ve got guys on your team like Taquon Graham, Sam Ehlinger, Derek Kerstetter and Roschon Johnson. We’ve got a good group of core individuals that we need to accelerate their growth and learning ASAP. I know it sounds like a broken record, but that acceleration is going to take time. We’ve got a bye week…and I’m sure a lot of it will be a repeat of last week. Our players deserve answers and we’ll have it to them in short time.”
Why the offensive line and running game has struggled?
“I would think it’s a number of things. We’ve got to improve up front and we’ve got who we got and we have to get them better and have them major in the things that we can do. Understand as coaches as well. It gets hard when you’re down two scores and things are slipping away from you…it feels weird to keep going after one and two yard runs. I’ve been in Mike (Yurcich’s) shoes where you feel like nothing you call feels like it’s working.”
On if the offense should go up tempo
“We went three-and-out numerous times taking 22 seconds off the clock. And against Oklahoma, in times like that, you have to play complimentary football. I get it and maybe we turn into a team that wins games 65 to 55 but that’s not what I envision. We need to sustain drives and stay ahead of the chains and we haven’t done that consistently.”
What’s the No. 1 focus for correcting this team?
“How do we get a group of guys that want to be great to translate their play in practice to the games. That’s job No. 1 right now. We had a really good week. Unbelievable Sunday. I saw some of that improvement. I know it’s really hard to see the bright spots because of the outcome. We’ve got to figure out a way as coaches to…you’ve only got a finite amount of reps but you have 8,000 reps you can take mentally. It’s all hands on deck to figure how we get enough reps. We did very minimal scout team work and we had the two’s service the one’s just to get a better picture. We’re down so many numbers. I don’t have that answer right now this soon after the game.”