Longhorns Prepare for Thanksgiving Game as Injuries Mount
The Texas Longhorns football team will continue their slog through another disappointing season on Thanksgiving night.
The Longhorns will be facing a new Turkey Day foe: Texas Tech Red Raiders. The team will pose a challenge for a banged up and underperforming Longhorns defense. The Red Raiders feature the #1 passing offense in college football and started the season 7-0 before dropping four straight games.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns are coming off a blowout 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State. The loss likely trampled any hopes the Longhorns had to salvage a season with a Big 12 Championship. The defeat dropped the Longhorns to a dismal 29-19 record since the start of the 2010 season.
Head Coach Mack Brown has been feeling the heat for his job title and $5 million annual salary this year. Rumors of Alabama coach Nick Saban usurping Brown's position have swirled.
For now, Brown can only plan for a Thanksgiving night which will mark the final home game of quarterback Case McCoy's college career.
“There are a lot of good things that are still out there for us, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to beat Oklahoma State, so we’ve got to go back and make sure we can do everything we can do to beat Texas Tech on Thursday night. And that’s the only thing that’s important,” Brown said at a press conference today.
Looking back on any part of the 2013 season could serve as a testament to Brown's intestinal fortitude, as the Longhorns fortunes have wavered between unlucky and cursed. A slew of injuries has forced backups such as McCoy into action. First team quarterback David Ash was announced to miss the rest of the season today due to a concussion, and he joins an injured reserve list that includes running back Johnathan Gray, defensive tackle Chris Whaley, and linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Brown is hopeful Ash can be granted a medical redshirt. A redshirt would allow Ash two more years of eligibility.
“He had some re-occurring symptoms, and the concussion thing is a huge issue out there right now. Our doctors and trainers have been rightfully cautious,” Brown said. “It’s obviously safer for him to comeback in the Spring and he’ll appeal and get his two years back, I’m sure.”
The injury has continued a carousel at the quarterback position since the departure of former Heisman trophy runner-up Colt McCoy.
Similarly, the defensive coordinator job has seen turnover since the Longhorns reached the national championship game against Alabama. Former defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, joined the team in 2010, and during his tenure the Longhorns allowed opposing offenses to score an average of 27.3 points.
After an embarrassing 40-21 loss to the Brigham Young Cougars, Brown sacked Diaz and replaced him with elder statesman Greg Robinson. Robinson has faired little better than his predecessor. The team has allowed opponents to score 26.6 points per game under Robinson's guidance.
Continued under-performance may result in Brown's replacement, as Texas' new athletic director Steve Patterson has a penchant for shaking things up. Patterson replaced nearly 100 people in his two years at Arizona State.
Brown has had his fair share of memorable Thanksgiving victories during his 16 years guiding the Longhorns. One more win or one more loss will likely have little impact in his job security. Nonetheless, a strong finish to the season could provide fans and administrators with some reassurance that next year will provide a brighter outcome.