Five Things I Think

The final Five Things I Think of the 2010 season focuses on the Longhorns' loss to Texas A&M.

* It has long since become a broken record, but the Longhorns were felled yet again by their same fatal flaws: too many turnovers, an inability to score touchdowns in the red zone and a propensity to allow the big play on defense. All three of those problems had surfaced by the UCLA game, with the Longhorns' scoring issues on display the first couple weeks of the season and the turnover issue cropping up against Texas Tech, albeit in a win. That the team couldn't find a consistent solution for any of those issues by the end of the year was the squad's major failing.

* People will want to blame a large part of Texas's failures on Garrett Gilbert, and the statistics will certainly back them up. Gilbert struggled this season, finishing with 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions and completing just 59 percent of his passes for 2,744 yards. Those numbers dipped even further in conference play, where he completed just 56.5 percent of his throws and tossing six touchdowns to 16 interceptions. More importantly, Texas scored just 19.2 points per game. But that wouldn't be entirely accurate. Gilbert faced more strain than most first-year starters, with a consistently retooling offensive line and receivers who struggled to get open and catch the ball. He also emerged as one of Texas's top rushing threats, finishing second on the team with 380 yards. Still, he failed to gain positive momentum heading into a spring where he'll have to fight for his job.

* Speaking of rushing threats, the Longhorns might have found their power runner, albeit just a bit too late. Ironically, it was the same player the 'Horn coaches fingered for the job at the start of the year. Forced back into the starting lineup by a series of injuries to Texas's other backs, Cody Johnson received a combined 42 carries over the Longhorns' final two games. He rushed for 231 yards over those carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and topping the century mark in each game. Johnson finished as the Longhorns' leading rusher, running for 592 yards and six touchdowns. Unlike Gilbert, he'll carry that positive momentum into the spring. But like Gilbert, he'll face a battle to keep his job as the starter.

* Add Cyrus Gray to the list of Texas running backs to give the Longhorns trouble. The Longhorns faced an opponent with a native Texan for a starter at running back in three of their final four conference games, with Baylor's Jay Finley rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter running for 116 and two scores. Gray's performance topped them both. He ran for a career-high 223 yards and two touchdowns. With the Longhorns struggling for much of the year to find a consistent rushing threat, it wasn't hard for the rest of the league to find their own star runners from the Lone Star State.

* After the game, running back Fozzy Whittaker said this Texas team, however flawed it might have been, was just a few bounces away from having a very different season. And honestly, that isn't much of a stretch. Against Texas A&M, Gilbert had an open James Kirkendoll past the marker, but the pass was tipped at the line, then intercepted. From not recovering a late fumble against Oklahoma to two failed red zone trips against Iowa State and Marquise Goodwin's late fumble against Baylor, Texas had a legitimate shot to win nine games this year, then take a 10th with a potential bowl win. And there's that turnover margin. When gamblers look for teams to make sizable jumps, or drops, from the previous season, they look at which teams were "highly unlucky" in turnover margin, figuring that those numbers will even out over time. That would bode well for the 2011 Longhorns, who don't figure to approach the conference-worst minus-12 the 2010 group put up in that category. Still, most people would agree that good teams create their own breaks, and the 2010 Longhorns failed to do just that.

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