The No. 25 Longhorns started strong during its trip to California this weekend but struggled in their final games to end the weekend with a 2–3 record and a season mark of 9–6.  

On Thursday, Texas compiled upsets against No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 UCLA. The Longhorns handed the Bulldogs its first loss of the season behind a three-hit, complete-game shutout from freshman pitcher Erica Wright.

The game was scoreless until senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon knocked a double into the right-center field gap to clear the loaded bases in the top of the seventh. Junior third baseman Stephanie Ceo then hit an inside-the-park home run that dropped between Georgia’s right and center fielders to add two more runs.

Two huge defensive plays from junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens kept the Bulldogs off the board late in the game. She fired a bullet in the bottom of the fifth to throw out Georgia senior pinch runner Adele Harrison at home and then made a tough catch in the sixth to strand two Georgia runners.

Against UCLA, sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis threw four innings and gave up just one earned run on three hits while striking out two. Senior pitcher Gabby Smith earned her first save of the season, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out two in the final three frames of Texas’ 5–3 win.

Junior catcher Erin Shireman, who went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, led the Longhorns while Stephens went 1-for-2 and scored a pair of runs.

Defensively, Shireman and sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong made big plays to help preserve the Texas victory. In the bottom of the fifth, Wong made a difficult, back-handed running catch, and Shireman fired a shot from behind the plate to throw out a UCLA runner, keeping the game in Texas’ hands.

However, Friday didn’t go as well for Texas, as a seventh-inning Longhorn rally came up short in an 8–7 loss to Fresno State. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Slatten threw the first four frames, giving up three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Kristen Clark came on in relief and took the loss, giving up the first of four runs in a big fifth inning for the Bulldogs.

Junior first baseman Holly Kern led the Longhorn on offense, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Stephens knocked a home run as well and Smith, in the game as a designated player, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

On Friday night, Texas lost to No. 18 Missouri, 4–3. Wright pitched the entire game, allowing all four unearned runs and notching just one strikeout. Wong, Stephens and sophomore second baseman Kelli Hanzel each had an RBI. The Longhorns stranded the tying run on third in both games.

Texas closed out its weekend by losing to No. 24 Notre Dame, 5–1, on Saturday. Davis gave up four earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings and took the loss before handing the game over to Slatten.

Smith accounted for the lone Texas score with an RBI single that scored Hanzel in the bottom of the sixth.

The Longhorns return to action this weekend at McCombs Field for the Texas Invitational.

Junior infielder Stephanie Ceo will be an important cog for the Longhorns’ offense as they look to bounce back from an early exit in the 2014 postseason.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas is no stranger to tough opponents. 

Last season, the Longhorns made the six-hour trip to Lafeyette, Louisiana, for the regional round of the NCAA tournament to face the Ragin’ Cajuns, who had a decisive home-field advantage. And with that advantage, Louisiana-Lafeyette ended Texas’ postseason run early. 

In order to score the home-field advantage for the first round of the postseason, the No. 25 Longhorns are going to have to pull out some big wins against quality opponents in their non-conference schedule.

For the second straight year, Texas will open up the season on the road, heading west to play in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, next weekend. There, the Longhorns will square off against No. 2 Oregon and No. 16 Arizona State as well as Northwestern and Stanford, who each received votes in a preseason coach’s poll.

Later in February, Texas will face No. 12 Georgia, No. 7 UCLA, No. 17 Missouri and No. 22 Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in California.

The key for the Longhorns in these tough preseason tournaments will be putting up good performances against Women’s College World Series contenders. They will need to come away with a few impressive wins to show the committee they deserve to be one of the top-16 seeded teams to open at their home field.

The difficult schedule away from Austin also gives Texas a chance to boost its RPI, a calculation that many NCAA postseason selection committees use to determine seedings. Following Texas’ loss to Louisiana-Lafayette last year, head coach Connie Clark said the defeat proved the importance of RPI, especially to the younger players on the team.

“It motivates you to really understand the RPI and really understand what it’s about to work your tail off to be in the top 16,” Clark said.

Of course, winning these non-conference games is easier said than done. Oregon is coming off a near miss at the title a year ago, after falling one game short of the final. Georgia and UCLA each have something to prove this year after being upset on home turf in the Super Regionals last year.

But even picking up two or three wins against ranked opponents could make a difference in determining the host teams for the NCAA tournament.  And it will be important to pick up those wins in the non-conference schedule because once conference play begins, it will be hard to pick up those quality wins in the Big 12.

Then-freshman guard Brook McCarty dribbles down the court against UTSA in November 2014..

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

No. 9 Texas women’s basketball team will play UT-Pan American on Wednesday at the Frank Erwin Center.

Both teams have won three consecutive games coming into the matchup, but Texas head coach Karen Aston continues to work to correct mistakes she saw from her team against UCLA.

UT-Pan American is a competitive team that could surprise the Longhorns. 

“They are well coached and have the capability to beat us,” Aston said.

Texas holds a perfect record against the Broncs, having defeated them five times without ever losing.

On Sunday, Texas out-rebounded UCLA 50-34 and posted 20 second-chance points. In their previous game, the Longhorns beat No. 5 Stanford in an 87-81 overtime victory Thursday.

There is no doubt Texas is one of the hottest squads in the country. The team started the season full of confidence after being selected as the Big 12 preseason favorite and has turned that confidence into early season success.

Despite her team’s strong start, Aston still wants more from the Longhorns.

“It’s not that their effort hasn’t been good,” Aston said. “Their level of execution hasn’t been what it’s needed to be.”

Aston said one of her team’s biggest advantages this season is that her players, even the freshmen, are not afraid to take the big shot, something she said has been lacking in past seasons.

In a recent press conference, Aston said her staff has done an excellent job these past two years recruiting players who fit her unique system, and the results of those recruiting efforts are beginning to pay off.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty came off the bench to lead Texas to a 75-65 win at UCLA, scoring 20 points. It was the first 20-point performance from a Texas guard this season.

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins made the first 14 free throws of her collegiate career. Atkins, the Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year, has started all three games, averaging 12.0 points per game for the Longhorns.

After last week’s impressive victories, Texas moved up four spots to No. 9 in the Coaches Poll.

“We’ve been looking for an identity,” Aston said. “We know that we’re in terrific shape. This will be an interesting week for our team.”

No. 10 Texas (3-0, 2-0 away) continued its winning streak with a third-consecutive win of the season at UCLA.

Scoring 37 points in the first half and 38 in the second, the Longhorns concluded their two-game California road trip in the Pauley Pavilion on Sunday with a 75-65 win against the Bruins.

The last time the Longhorns beat UCLA was on Nov. 25, 2003. UCLA is 0-3 after losing to Texas, but it came into the season with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty led the Longhorns with 20 points in the game. McCarty, Texas’ shortest player at 5 feet 4 inches, made five 3-pointers for Texas.

“Coach just told me when I’m open, shoot the ball,” McCarty said. “At first I wasn’t, but then she got on to me, so I started shooting and got more comfortable as the game went on.”

The Longhorns finished with seven steals and 22 points off turnovers.

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins contributed 14 points to help Texas pull away with an early lead in the second half. Texas posted its largest lead at 5:13 in the second half with 14 points.

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang finished with 12 points and senior forward Nneka Enemkpali had 10.

Sunday’s contest brought the all-time series to 6-5, in the Bruins’ favor.

Texas will host UT-Pan American at home Wednesday.

With three games left in the season, Texas is facing the same fate it did at this point four years ago.

With a 4-5 record, the Longhorns must win two of their next three games to become bowl eligible and avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2010 — their only losing season under former head coach Mack Brown. Brown’s team also had only four wins with three games remaining but only won one. 

However, with two top-25 teams left on the schedule, including one that has a shot at a College Football Playoff berth, Texas will most likely find itself out of bowl contention by the end of head coach Charlie Strong’s first season, much like the 2010 team.

In the last four years, Texas has beaten just three top-25 teams, all on the road, and the Longhorns have yet to beat a ranked opponent at home since 2008, losing 13 such contests in that time period. Furthermore, an unranked Texas team hasn’t beaten a ranked foe since 1998.

The numbers tell the story — Texas has struggled mightily against top-ranked teams. This season alone, the Longhorns are 0-4 against ranked teams, although they came close winning against UCLA and Oklahoma.

“Everyone’s ready to turn that around,” junior center Taylor Doyle said. “We’re excited to be back at home and have the support of our crowd. Everyone’s fired up and ready to prepare to go out and play this game.”

However, playing at home may not be much of an advantage for Texas, which has struggled at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this season.

The Longhorns have won just two games on home turf this year and both have come against lowly opponents — North Texas and Iowa State. But for Texas to become bowl eligible, it must beat at least one top-25 team at home.

While possible, it will be a difficult task for a Longhorn team that has struggled to put together a complete game in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — this season. The execution has been inconsistent, and Texas’ offense has had little spark, despite sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ slight improvements throughout the season.

However, the Longhorns demonstrated clear progression in last Saturday’s 34-13 win over Texas Tech, putting up their highest point total in a road game this season. But one good performance hasn’t necessarily led to another for these Longhorns.

After putting up 48 points against Iowa State a few weeks ago, Texas travelled to Manhattan, Kansas, and got shut out by the Wildcats the following week. And, back in September, the Longhorns came close to beating a top-15 UCLA team, only to return home flat-footed against Baylor. 

Texas may be able to pull out a win against Oklahoma State, a team that has been equally inconsistent this season. However, it will struggle against West Virginia and TCU. And if history is any indication, Strong will find himself with a lot of free time come December.

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes led a dominant offense to compensate for Texas’ defensive woes Saturday.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas defense gave a ranked UCLA team fits, stifled Baylor’s top-ranked offense and virtually slammed the door on then-No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

But just when Longhorn fans thought defensive coordinator Vance Bedford’s unit might be one of the best in the country, Iowa State, a perennial cellar dweller in the Big 12, came to Austin and hung 45 points on Texas.

“We missed a few tackles, missed a few assignments,” sophomore defensive back Dylan Haines said. “We are just going to look back at it and try to get all of those things corrected. But I think we are obviously a lot better defensively than we played tonight.”

Given how well the defense played against tougher competition, Haines’ claim may be accurate. It’s also tough to be much worse than they were Saturday night.

The Cyclones racked up 524 total yards in the contest, led by junior quarterback Sam Richardson, who threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score.

Iowa State’s offense, which failed to muster anything against North Dakota State of the FCS earlier this year, had 30 first downs and averaged nearly five yards per carry against Texas.

“Not very pleased with our defense — thought we could have played better than we did,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Sometimes you think you’re better than what you are, and defensively we know we can improve.”

All season long, Texas’ defense has been a staple amidst mistakes on offense and special teams. Against the Cyclones, that script was flipped.

“The offense bailed us out tonight,” senior defensive back Quandre Diggs said. “We didn’t play like we wanted to on defense, but the offense stepped their game up.”

As Iowa State continued to score, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and his offense kept pace, turning in their most complete performance of the season. Meanwhile, the Longhorns’ special teams, which has been a liability all season, won the field position battle all evening and converted both its field goal attempts, including the game winner.

With a trip to Manhattan, Kansas, to face Kansas State — who sits atop the Big 12 standings — coming up this weekend, things won’t get any easier for the Texas defense.

If nothing else, the poor performance against Iowa State was humbling, as Texas clearly understands it will have to be better against a slew of ranked teams in the last five games of the season.

“The defense needed a wake-up call,” Strong said. “Because I think our defense was feeling too good about themselves, and this will get them back down to earth.”

1. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week (W, 38-23, vs. Auburn): 18-for-34, 246 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INTs, 121 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 1,478 passing yards, 14 passings TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs

Who had Prescott leading the Heisman race before the start of the season? Nobody. The 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound dual-threat junior quarterback has broken through in the most impressive of ways and looks to be here to stay. His résumé consists of three straight wins over ranked opponents and leading Mississippi State, perennial SEC bottom-feeder, to its first AP No. 1 ranking in school history. There’s no denying Prescott has earned the Heisman lead. He threw two early interceptions against Auburn, but his 367 all-purpose yards, clutch touchdowns down the stretch and eventual victory more than made up for his mistakes. 

2. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Last week (W, 42-30, vs. UCLA): 17-for-27, 210 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 75 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 1,621 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 290 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

Oregon’s win over UCLA last week was much bigger than the score indicated, and Mariota picked apart the Bruins’ defense in every way possible. Most impressively, Mariota gashed UCLA for 75 yards on the ground and made most of the Ducks’ possessions look flawless. The junior has yet to throw an interception this season, which is an incredibly rare feat. In order to regain the Hesiman lead, he’ll have to hope Prescott slows down, but, as always, there’s no doubting Mariota’s greatness every time he steps on the field.     

3. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson

Last week (W, 50-43, vs. North Carolina): 21-for-38, 300 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 INT, 71 rushing yards

2014: 1,583 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 209 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs

Golson may not put up the best numbers in college football, but all he does is win. He has been the guy pushing Notre Dame to wins each week and in last week’s shoot-out against North Carolina, it was Golson’s clutch factor that made the difference yet again for the Irish. This week, however, will make or break Golson’s Heisman campaign. A matchup with No. 2 Florida State on Saturday sets the perfect stage for Golson to either shine or fade away. 

4. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Last week: (W, 38-28, vs. Illinois): 27 attempts, 175 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs

2014: 1,046 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD

Wisconsin still has six regular season games on its schedule, and Gordon has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. Games such as last week’s against Illinois are the reason some say Gordon is the best running back in the country and his yards per game and total yards are both second in the FBS. The truth is, Gordon hasn’t faced great competition and his Badgers have lost to two mediocre teams in LSU and Northwestern. But the numbers he puts up and what he does every time he touches the ball have been nothing short of amazing. 

5. Georgia RB Todd Gurley

Last week: Suspended

2014: 773 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs 

Considering Gurley was leading the Heisman race just a week ago, there’s no knocking him completely off the list for the controversy surrounding him off the field. For a running back who was having such an excellent season, Gurley’s suspension was both surprising and poorly timed. Right now, there’s no knowing how long Gurley will be out. But if he hopes to climb back into Heisman contention, he needs to get back on the field in a hurry, or else he’ll quickly fall out of the Heisman conversation.


There are 28 seniors on Texas’ roster – 12 are starters. Head coach Charlie Strong called out those veterans at his weekly press conference Monday.

“I told the seniors it’s all about their leadership,” Strong said. “Their senior year, you like to see them go play their best football, and some of our seniors aren’t playing their best football. It’s not going to change until we start developing pride, and we have pride within ourselves and pride within the team.”

While the Longhorn seniors have managed to pull out the occasional big win over the course of their careers, they have, for the most part, struggled in big games. Although the matchup with Kansas won’t be considered a big game, Texas needs its seniors to lead by example if it wants to contend for a Big 12 championship.

DT Hassan Ridgeway

Texas lost senior defensive tackle Desmond “Tank” Jackson during its game against UCLA when he broke his ankle. Since then Jackson has undergone surgery that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Sophomore defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway is expected to fill Jackson’s void.

Ridgeway will have to step up as he has “Tank” sized shoes to fill. Jackson was an important piece in stopping the run, and his absence was noticeable against the Bruins, as they were able to run the ball with ease after he was carted off.

It may be difficult to replace Jackson, but the coaching staff expects Ridgeway to come in and have success.

“The thing about Ridgeway is he is so strong and so powerful,” Strong said. “And he’s big and strong where he can get off blocks and make plays. You just see him engulf people and just throw them back and then reach over and get sacks.”


The key to a good defense is a formidable linebacking corps. Texas has solid linebackers in seniors Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond. The Longhorns also rotate a handful of other guys into the second tier of their defense. But, at times, the veterans have faltered.

During the UCLA game, Hicks whiffed on a tackle that led to a big run by the Bruins. At other times, Edmond failed to fill his gaps. Some of the rotational guys have also been caught out of position.

For Texas to be successful against Kansas, and the rest of the Big 12 for that matter, it needs its linebackers to step up.

Stock Up: QB Tyone Swoopes

It feels like Swoopes, a sophomore, is on this list for a different reason every week. The coaches have been quick to praise him after both starts while others have been quick to criticize him. Despite the hype that surrounded his strong arm and mobility during all of spring and preseason, those aspects of his game have yet to be seen. However, he was very effective, throwing for 196 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, against a good UCLA defense and appears to be headed in the right direction. Head coach Charlie Strong keeps saying Swoopes is getting better and better, and, for now, he is right.

Stock Up: WR John Harris

This guy’s stock just keeps going up and up. In his first three seasons, the redshirt senior recorded nine receptions, 190 yards and three touchdowns. He has already matched or eclipsed each of those numbers in just three games this year. Swoopes likes to look his way, connecting with him on 12 passes and even going to Harris on a fourth-and-eight. And with a touchdown catch in every game this season, Harris is bound to keep getting looks from Swoopes.

Stock Down: DE Cedric Reed

Another game without a sack for Reed, who was supposed to take his game to the next level this season after being selected as a preseason All-American. Much was expected out of the six-foot-five-inch senior after his 10 sacks last year, but he hasn’t produced so far this year, notching just 0.5 sacks. Head coach Charlie Strong claims he’s not getting caught up in the numbers, but there is still cause for concern.  Besides his low sack number, he has just one quarterback pressure and one tackle for a loss. 

Stock Down: CB Duke Thomas

Thomas, a junior, got burned for the game-winning touchdown against UCLA. But, that’s not the only reason he is on this list. So far this season, he has no pass deflections or pass breakups, which is especially bad because he’s played nearly every down. He isn’t close to being benched anytime soon, but he doesn’t provide much confidence in man coverage. And with senior cornerback Quandre Diggs covering the other side of the field, opposing teams will look to pick on him more and more, just as UCLA did at the end of the game.


Advantage: Texas

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes has done nothing to justify last season’s murmurs of a potential “Vince Young 2.0,” but he has avoided the head-scratching mistakes and arm strength questions that plagued Case McCoy last season. 

Sophomore Montell Cozart has struggled mightily. Against Central Michigan last week, he completed more than half of his passes for just the first time in six career starts.


Advantage: Kansas

The Kansas backs have been underwhelming of late, but freshman Corey Avery and junior De’Andre Mann are averaging 4.6 and 6.1 yards per carry, respectively.

Texas needed junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown to carry them to victory against UCLA; they did not. Neither back has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game this season.


Advantage: Texas

This was supposed to be Texas’ worst offensive unit, but senior John Harris looks like a legitimate No. 1, and junior speedster Marcus Johnson is slowly working his way back into the offense. 

Only two Kansas receivers have compiled at least 100 total yards through three games, but head coach Charlie Weis has pointed to his quarterback as the source of some of the poor numbers.


Advantage: Texas

Texas’ offensive line received yet another blow this week when tackle Kennedy Estelle’s suspension turned into a dismissal. The offensive line has struggled to surge ahead of its running backs recently, but pass protection has held up well.

Kansas beat Central Michigan last week without redshirt junior tackle Damon Martin and senior guard Mike Smithburg. In their absence, the Jayhawks ran for 138 yards, but more than half of that total came on one carry.


Advantage: Texas

The one strength of the Texas run defense was its ability to stop runs between the tackles, but the loss of senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson allowed UCLA to run up the middle with ease.

The Kansas defensive line allowed 297, 180 and 178 rushing yards in its first three games, respectively, and redshirt junior Ben Goodman is the only Jayhawk defensive lineman to have recorded a sack through three games.


Advantage: Texas

The Texas linebackers looked much better against UCLA. This unit can finally pin its ears back and rush the passer now that they’re done with dual threat quarterbacks — BYU’s Taysom Hill and UCLA’s
Brett Hundley.

Senior Ben Heeney is the rock in the middle of the Kansas defense. Heeney has recorded over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons. In last week’s contest against Central Michigan, he made seven solo tackles, including two for a loss, and forced a fumble.


Advantage: Kansas

Kansas’ pass defense, led by senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd, has twice held its opponents to less than 200 passing yards. The Longhorns’ short passing offense could play perfectly into the Jayhawks’ hands.

The defensive backs have done a decent job preventing big plays, but junior cornerback Duke Thomas got torched for the long, deciding touchdown against the Bruins, and the unit failed to record an interception for the first time this season.


Advantage: Kansas

The Jayhawks are a mere 4-8 on field goal attempts, but Shepherd is a dangerous kick returner. Junior Isaiah Johnson and senior Nick Harwell combine to average a very solid 17.33 yards per punt return.

Junior placekicker Nick Rose has been shaky on field goals, the return game has yielded nothing, a long punt return led to UCLA’s game-winning touchdown and the Longhorns even managed to botch a coin toss that may have cost them the game against the Bruins.