Like any crime investigation, you ultimately have to get to the motive.
You pile up the clues to find out why the crime happened.
One of the biggest clues Saturday in Fort Worth didn't happen on the field under a scoreboard that read ... TCU 50 … TEXAS 7. It was a retweet of a tweet inviting freshmen CB Kris Boyd and LB Malik Jefferson to transfer to Texas A&M.
The retweet came from Boyd’s Twitter account … during halftime Saturday … when Texas was trailing TCU 37-0.
When asked about it after the game, Charlie Strong said, “Our players should never be on their phone at halftime. I was not aware of that. But they should never be on their phone.”
UT officials said they did alert Strong to the matter after the game, so it was unclear if Strong was referring to not knowing about the retweet during the game – when Boyd continued to be the deep man on kickoff return and played on defense.
So that’s the bigger issue.
Is this team still together?
And that led Strong to the lack of leadership on this team – especially from older players who can point younger players in the right direction.
“When you’re a young team like the youth that we have right now, and you don’t have any leaders who will step up with your older guys, then you’re going to have issues,” Strong said. “What’s happening now is most of your playmakers are the younger guys."
When senior linebacker Peter Jinkens was told of Strong saying the team doesn't have any leaders among its older players, he said, "No comment."
Strong said receiver Daje Johnson leaving the game with a head injury on UT's first offensive possession turned out to be a devastating blow.
“Losing Daje early hurt us. When he got knocked out early in the game, your one older playmaker that you have is knocked out of the game. And then we didn’t have anyone else step up on offense.”
(Strong said when Daje first got hit, “He didn’t know where he was or anything. He was kind of out of it. When they got him settled down at halftime, he was a little better.”)
Strong said he knows the coaches are going to have to provide the leadership for a team full of young players until the young playmakers on the team are mature enough to become leaders and take over the team.
"As coaches, we gotta provide that leadership and keep pushing em," Strong said. "And with those young guys, they just want to play, so the more you play them, the happier they’re going to be.”
With one week to prepare for an Oklahoma team that paddled West Virginia on Saturday, this coaching staff has a monumental task ahead of them.
This is how fragile the psyche of the team appears to be – all the confidence on the Texas sideline seemed to melt away within the first three minutes of the game, when yet more special teams blunders helped sink the Longhorns.
The jokes coming out of the last two Texas games – after a missed extra point against Cal and a mishandled punt snap against Oklahoma State – turned into, “What’s next? Some mishap with the long snapper?”
And then it happened.
After an excellent stop by LB Peter Jinkens on third-and-1 to force a TCU punt to open the game, Johnson suffered the head injury on a play that also caused him to fumble the ball.
TCU recovered, and four plays later, true freshman WR KaVontae Turpin started a career day (6 catches, 138 yards, 4 TDs) by getting behind Duke Thomas (with safety help from P.J. Locke arriving too late and at the wrong angle) for a 13-yard TD.
Then, a three-and-out by the Texas offense led to the oh-no-here-we-go-again moment of the game:
Long snapper Kyle Ashby sailed the ball over punter Michael Dickson’s head, 24 yards, through the back of the end zone.
(Ashby would also have a clear shot to recover a muffed punt return by TCU in the first half, but the ball went right through his hands.)
And then the second, oh-no-here-we-go-again moment of the game.
Nick Rose’s kickoff on the free kick after the safety, sailed out of bounds, giving TCU the ball at the 50.
Five plays later, Trevone Boykin hit WR Josh Doctson for a 15-yard TD against tight coverage from Holton Hill.
With 9:48 left in the first quarter, Texas was down, 16-0, and it was as if the Longhorns were down 50-7, which ended up being the final score.
And that’s not mentioning the two missed FGs by Nick Rose in the second quarter with Texas down 30-0 – wide right from 39 yards and wide left from 40.
After the game, senior LB Peter Jinkens was asked if this Texas team knows how to win?
He said, “I feel like we do. We just need it from all three phases.”
Coaches, including Jay Norvell, admitted after the game they needed to run the ball more early against an undersized TCU defense playing with a 190-pound linebacker. The Longhorns threw the ball on five of their first nine plays. By then, UT was down 16-0.
D’Onta Foreman was one of the lone bright spots, becoming the team’s first 100-yard rusher of the season (18 carries for 112 yards, 6.2 ypc).
But remaining true to your game plan almost seemed pale compared to the coaches making sure their locker room is still united.
“We gotta learn how to compete,” Strong said. “We don’t know how to compete yet.
“You have to have pride in yourself. This is a very competitive sport. And when things aren’t going right, then someone has to step up.
“And that’s what we’re not getting right now.
“When you don’t have a key guy. And that’s what we’re missing – a key guy who can take the team and take the team over. We don’t have that key guy. We gotta find that guy or we gotta develop him.
“We didn’t compete for 60 minutes. Today was awful, embarrassing. But we have to continue to coach.”