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If This Is the Best Tom Herman Can Do at Texas, Trouble Is Brewing

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 07:  Head coach Tom Herman of the Texas Longhorns  watches players warm up before the game against the LSU Tigers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tom Herman | Tim Warner/Getty Images

Tom Herman and his Texas Longhorns were upset by Iowa State on Saturday to fall to 6-4 on the year. That loss ensured Herman would have at least four losses on his record in each of his three years at Texas. With a loaded roster and a veteran quarterback, it's fair to ask if this is the best he can do at Texas.

Herman led the Longhorns to a 7-6 record in 2017, but things looked to be trending in the right direction in 2018 with a 10-4 record and a win over Georgia in the 2019 Sugar Bowl. After opening the season with high expectations the Longhorns have absorbed losses to LSU, Oklahoma, TCU and Iowa State.

Herman has the key element of a successful college team in a high-level veteran quarterback. Sam Ehlinger was getting preseason Heisman Trophy buzz and has been decent this year, but hasn't built on last season. So far in 2019, he's completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,914 yards, wtih 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

While Texas ranks 20th in total offense nationally, averaging 461.7 yards per game and ranks 17th in scoring offense (36.1 points per game), the team's defense has been atrocious. Texas ranks 111th in yards allowed per game (449.4) and is 84th in points allowed per game (29.9). This comes despite defensive coordinator Todd Orlando having tons of talent to work with.

Orlando has been Herman's defensive coordinator since the pair were at Houston together in 2015. Herman may have to jettison the only DC he's ever had as a head coach this offseason.

You can blame Orlando and the defense for Texas' woes this season, but the buck stops with Herman. He's in charge. He's loaded up with two top five recruiting classes in 2018 and 2019 but those wins haven't translated to top-level performances on the field. The ability to develop that talent will determine whether or not Herman can actually stick long-term at Texas.

The Longhorns travel to Waco to take on Matt Rhule and his 9-1 Baylor Bears this weekend. If Texas can't straighten things out, they'll drop to 6-5 on the season and fall back into irrelevance. The responsibility will fall completely on Herman's shoulders.