Texas rallies, holds on to beat Iowa State

Texas survived. Barely.

It needed a controversial confirmation of a non-fumble call at the goal line before Case McCoy’s game-winning quarterback sneak. Even that drive needed two pass interference penalties and a facemask.

It needed a hail mary from McCoy at the end of the half.

The Longhorns are 4-2 and lead the Big 12 standings (really!) at 2-0 after beating Iowa State, 31-30.

The standings say Texas has rebounded from an ugly 1-2 nonconference record with 19 and 21-point losses.

Reality says that is fantasy.

Texas is the same flawed team that rarely plays to its ability for a variety of reasons since the 2010 season began. That’s the reality of why Mack Brown’s future at Texas is in doubt, and a win against Iowa State (1-3 and 0-1 in Big 12 play) does little but delay a likely reality that Brown’s tenure in Austin is nearing an end.

Iowa State was outplayed on its home field by an FCS team in its opener. The Cyclones have since discovered standout running back Aaron Wimberly, but Iowa State is a 1-3 team.

Texas overcame a stubborn resistance to using talented backs Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron on Thursday night. That trio logged 23 carries to McCoy’s 45 pass attempts, despite averaging almost six yards a carry. With the win, Texas improved to 2-6 when McCoy attempts at least 16 passes.

Reality is Texas is 2-0 vs. the two Big 12 teams who lost to FCS teams in their season openers.

Oklahoma, still enjoying a jump in the polls after a road victory at Notre Dame to move to 4-0, will offer a more honest assessment of how far Texas is from being “back.”

The Longhorns were without starting quarterback David Ash in Ames, but Ash is still the same quarterback who has completed exactly 50 percent of his passes vs. Oklahoma and has lost the last two meetings against the Sooners by 38 and 42 points. Ash may also be without his best weapon, Mike Davis, for the Red River Rivalry after Davis’ despicable cheap shot on Iowa State DB Deon Broomfield’s knees at the end of a play in the third quarter.

A trip to TCU, who beat the Longhorns in Austin with a freshman-laden, 7-6 team in 2012, awaits after the Sooners.

Thursday night in Ames was not the scene of the loss that makes the end of the Mack Brown tenure official. It did serve as even more evidence that said loss is coming. Blowout losses to BYU and Ole Miss revved up the discussion of Brown’s future in Austin. A narrow escape against a poor Iowa State team will do nothing to quiet it.

Brown earned a long leash and a second chance after the 5-7 season in 2010. The leash was well deserved after two national title appearances and nine consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-09. Brown hasn’t been able to successfully reboot the program, despite a change in recruiting strategy and an overhaul of the coaching staff.

The Longhorns’ wheels continue to spin, despite experience (Texas won nine games in 2012 and returned more starters than any team in the Big 12), talent and a shallow pool of great teams in the Big 12 that would allow one of Texas’ easiest roads to a league title since Brown arrived in Austin back in 1998.

Texas needed one miracle and a whole lot of nice breaks to survive Ames.
 
Brown will need a whole lot more of the same to survive 2013.