Frustration at Texas: ‘We’ve got to somehow figure out how to cut the crap and just do it’
Defensive tackle Moro Ojomo goes in depth on Texas’ struggles while Iowa State (5-3, 3-2) stands ready and waiting
Defensive tackle Moro Ojomo is just as fed up as everyone else in Austin over Texas’ frustrating 4-4 record.
“We’ve got to somehow figure out how to cut the crap and just do it,” Ojomo said Monday.
But why does this keep happening to the Longhorns? Mediocrity has been this program’s calling card for a decade-plus now. How does a team with so much talent, terrific facilities, all the money necessary and a worldwide brand still struggle to win football games?
To play or coach at Texas, regardless of sport, means you were a winner somewhere previously. So why do all these winners come to Texas and become average?
“You can go really deep here if you really want to," Ojomo said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“First of all, when you think about dynasties, dynasties are built over time,” the junior from Katy said. “If we’re being completely honest, this atmosphere is, in a way, a bit of an impatient atmosphere. I mean, I can understand why. It’s 100,000 people, we’ve got the sixth-most millionaires in the U.S. We’ve got a lot of people, a lot of power behind it. But nothing happens overnight. Amazon wasn't built overnight.”
Ojomo then pointed to the rampant coaching turnover that’s happened since Mack Brown was ushered out in 2013. Over the last eight seasons, Texas has employed three different head coaches, six offensive coordinators and four defensive coordinators, not counting any interims along the way. You’ll need more fingers and toes to count all the assistants.
Several offensive linemen had three different line coaches during their four years in burnt orange. Guard Patrick Vahe (2015-18) had four.
“You’re literally uprooting what the past coach had and then trying to plant yours,” Ojomo said. “Then you hope for a fortunate situation of where the new coach isn't having to uproot the past staff but being able to build on top of it.
“It's a hard question,” he continued. “Is it complacency? Is it that the drive isn't there anymore? Is it where their head is?” Ojomo pointed to the Dallas Cowboys for comparison. “How many years has it been the Cowboys have had the talent, had all the money in the world, the facilities, had all that crap. But they couldn't put it together,” he said.
Ojomo said he now has a better appreciation for the 2018 team that rallied to reach the Big 12 title game and ultimately won the Sugar Bowl. He never understood the full pressure of playing at Texas and understanding the margin for error.
“If you miss that run, you missed that gap, you miss this, you miss that, it's a 30-yard gain,” he said. “All these things add up on each other.”
It’s easy to come down on receivers Joshua Moore and Marcus Washington for their dropped passes in Saturday’s loss to Baylor. They play high-profile positions. But what about the linemen in the trenches who miss their blitz assignments or can’t hold blocks?
What about the defensive players who can’t wrap up the ballcarrier? Or the defensive backs that get beat in man-to-man coverage?
At Texas, as in life, everybody’s a critic.
“At this point, it’s almost impossible to not see criticism or negativity,” quarterback Casey Thompson said. “But, you know, we just have to have thick skin. I mean, we chose to come to University of Texas, and we chose to play college football. We know this was what comes with it. There are hundreds of thousands of people and millions of viewers that watch us on Saturdays. And so people are going to have opinions and things to say.”
The Longhorns win and lose as a team, coach Steve Sarkisian said before the Baylor game. Like other coaches before him, Sarkisian does not criticize individual players during press conferences. Some school officials believe calling players out publicly doesn’t do the team any good.
“I think sometimes psyche can get involved, whether it’s I’m too relaxed or I’m too tense. Everybody’s a little different,” Sarkisian said Monday. “My job is to try to push all the right buttons to make sure that all of our guys play with the utmost confidence and belief to make their plays that they can do it.”
Even Sarkisian has limits when force fed reporters’ questions for 30 minutes every Monday. “At the end of the day, if we keep talking about a bruised psyche, we’re going to get a bruised psyche, right?,” he said.
Anybody want to talk about Iowa State? The Cyclones (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) should be lathered up proper while hosting the Longhorns (4-4, 2-3) at home this Saturday. Chances are coach Matt Campbell’s club will be dressed in all black, just as they were in 2019 for a raucous last-play victory.
“I can't come in here with a pouty face, because my pouty face is after the game,” defensive tackle Keondre Coburn said. “Now it’s the next day. So I’m going to move on and get ready for Iowa State, a great, great opponent that we have.”
Moving on is Texas’ only real choice. The Horns must win two of their final four regular-season games to become bowl eligible. A loss this weekend at Jack Trice Stadium means they’re staring down the possibility of a losing season.
“I think everyone needs to remember, this is the same team that also scored 70 points against Texas Tech. We scored 48 against Oklahoma,” Thompson said. “The talent is there. We’re very capable, we just had to put it together for four quarters.”
Therein lies the rub. If Texas has the talent to build three straight double-digit, second-half leads against ranked opponents, why can’t the Horns finish?
“I don’t think that it’s rocket science or a secret formula. The team that plays better for four quarters is going to win the game,” Thompson said. “And we've been on the other side of that.”
Sark is forever the optimist. “We haven’t broken through that wall yet,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding and stay the course. And ultimately, we will, and then that's when the triumph will occur.”
“Fudge,” Moro said, opting for a PG-version of expression.
“I truly do love this university,” he said. “It sucks. I really, really truly hope that people out there — my family, God, the fans and this alumni base — know that we're trying.”