SAN ANTONIO — Mack Brown’s final game with Texas was a microcosm of what led to his departure — missed opportunities.
Despite having numerous chances, the Longhorns allowed another big game to slip through their fingers, and the man who brought life back to a struggling program unnecessarily departed in defeat.
Obviously, No. 10 Oregon decisively won Monday’s Alamo Bowl, cruising to a 30-7 victory to end the Texas head coach’s 16-year run with the program, but it was not in the Ducks’ typical fashion.
Sure, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ripped the Longhorns’ defense apart, rushing for 133 yards by averaging 8.9-yard chunks, while passing for another 253 yards. But the Ducks were not doing it in their usual gaudy fashion with their output and their uniforms drastically toned down.
Oregon only scored one offensive touchdown after entering the contest ranked fourth in the nation, averaging 46.8 points per game, and after attempting 10 field goals during the regular season, the Ducks were forced to kick four field goals against Texas, making three.
Yet, the Longhorns did not pounce on the low-flying Ducks, and Brown walked away from Texas without bagging one final kill.
Much like Brown’s fate, the outcome was not the product of any single moment. Rather a repeated lack of ability to exploit situations proved to be the eventual demise.
After Avery Patterson returned Case McCoy’s interception for a touchdown, giving the Ducks a lead before their offense ever stepped on the field, the Longhorns weathered the storm. A steady diet of Malcolm Brown led to Texas’ response later in the quarter — a 1-yard touchdown run by McCoy — and Oregon held a 10-7 advantage entering the second quarter.
Although the Longhorns failed to score again before halftime, the door was wide open for a potential comeback.
When the Ducks increased their lead to 23-7 with a 39-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, it became clear the time for Texas’ offense to respond had arrived.
But the Longhorns did not answer.
Texas did not answer after forcing the Ducks to punt away their next possession. It did not answer after Oregon’s next possession ended with a missed field goal or when its third drive of the quarter resulted in the team’s fourth punt.
The Longhorns were silent with each passing opportunity as Brown decided to forgo the running game, which produced 125 of the team’s 156 first-half yards, in favor of a heavier passing attack. The result was three consecutive three-and-out series in the third quarter.
Thus, there was no dramatic win for Brown’s finale. He wasn’t carried off the field on his team’s shoulders or doused with Gatorade.
His legendary career at Texas came to a close in subdued fashion, and Brown was rather glassy-eyed during the postgame press conference, showing little emotion other than the typical reserved disappointment of a losing coach.
Although most everyone who was not standing on the Texas sideline expected the outcome, it is a shame his career closes without a fight.
Since 1990, Brown ranks first in the nation in wins with 225 between his stints at North Carolina and Texas. His 158 victories with the Longhorns are second most in school history and fourth most in the nation during the span.
Recent history, however, led us to believe it would end like this.
The Longhorns lost their spirit since having the national championship ripped away by Alabama in 2009. They lost their killer instinct, their competitive edge and their will to win, and Brown is ultimately at fault.
It was clearly time for a change, but regardless of where the program went or was headed under Brown, a coach with his pedigree deserves to go out a winner. Instead, Brown leaves Texas with consecutive losses and more missed opportunities.