Texas, after showing progress, falters again
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Charlie Strong's declaration a year ago that Texas would ''never'' again see a season with five losses is now academic.
Texas is 3-5 after a discouraging 24-0 loss at Iowa State and facing the possibility of consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1988-89.
Reminded of his 2014 comment on Monday, Strong said: ''I can make those predictions. It's happened. There's not much I can do about it.''
There was hope that the program had turned a corner after the Longhorns upset then-No. 10 Oklahoma on Oct. 10 and beat Kansas State in their next game. Then came the shutout against Iowa State, prompting Strong to say afterward: ''We thought we were taking step forwards. This was a step back.''
Texas was outgained 426-204, failing to move the ball against a team that was ranked 113th in total defense. The Longhorns have struggled with passing most of the season, but they made progress in their running game, producing 313 yards against Oklahoma and 274 versus Kansas State.
Iowa State limited the Longhorns to 119 yards on the ground. Iowa State, ranked 114th in pass defense, held Texas to 85.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard has not passed for 100 yards in any of the last four games.
After a 38-3 loss at then-No. 11 Notre Dame on opening night, Strong installed Heard as starting quarterback, demoting junior Tyrone Swoopes. Strong replaced his offensive play callers with receivers coach Jay Norvell.
Heard was initially productive against Rice and California, but opponents adjusted, and he has been inconsistent in five games since. Heard, a gifted runner, gained 13 yards at Iowa State and completed 6 of 9 passes for just 26 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked three times.
Strong said Heard had opportunities to complete passes, particularly short ones against Iowa State defensive backs who gave Longhorn receivers room.
''We just didn't take advantage,'' Strong said. ''Take what they give you. It's not going to always be a 30-yard pass. "
Swoopes played much of the Iowa State game, including the entire fourth quarter, but Strong said Heard will start against Kansas on Saturday.
''He's still a red-shirt freshman learning how to play,'' Strong said. ''We've seen him make plays.''
Texas ranks 104th in defense and 120th in third-down conversions allowed. Eight of Strong's 12 defeats at Texas have been by 21 points or more and Texas is 0-11 under Strong in games when opponents score first.
''The main thing is for them not to lose their confidence and not lose their focus,'' Strong said.