Watching the 2014 Longhorns has been like watching an avant-garde performance artist create a giant mural by throwing buckets of paint at a wall and using abstract objects as brushes. The audience may think they're beginning to see the end result, but it just honestly looks like a jumbled wall of garbage.
There were some highs (the home win over West Virginia and road games at Texas Tech and OSU come to mind), but the lows reached deeper than any other Longhorn team in recent memory. Texas suffered five losses of 20+ points this year – the first time in the history of the program.
The Horns capped off an up-and-down year with their most depressing defeat of all, falling 31-7 to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Texas Bowl. The game was a disaster for Texas' offense, which only managed 59 total yards, half of which came on the Horns' final drive.
To put in perspective just how inept Texas' offense was, their overall yardage and total rushing yards (2) were both record lows for any FBS team this year. If the Longhorns were going to beat the Razorbacks it was going to have to be on the strength of their running game and defense. But they fell behind early and so had to rely on Tyrone Swoopes, whose passes would have had more arc if they were thrown out of a crossbow.
It didn't matter how well the defense played when the offense's second half drives started out like this: -8 yards, -7 yards, -2 yards, -4 yards.
Yet in a bizarre bit of analysis, ESPN commentators David Pasche and Brian Griese spent much of the fourth quarter praising Head Coach Charlie Strong, most likely because they had run out of negative adjectives to use over the course of the game. Both seemed to think Strong would eventually turn the program around (as do I) but the on-field product on Monday night offered little evidence to back that up.
So what progress have we seen in 2014? The defense certainly performed better, allowing 60 fewer yards per game than last year. But the strides made by Vance Bedford's unit were outpaced by the decline of the offense, which dropped 70 yards a game from 2013.
If you were to describe the 2014 Texas Longhorns in one word, it would be "frustrating." It's frustrating to watch a great defense go to waste. It's frustrating to watch the team you love play so poorly in so many games. It's frustrating to go into an offseason at the same point as last year: a team without a real sense of direction or identity.