AUSTIN, Texas — Fresh off a bittersweet performance, senior tight end Chase Coffman jogged back into the visitors' locker room in Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with 12 catches for 140 yards, easily the Tigers' most impressive offensive weapon. Earlier in the second quarter, down 28-0, he'd even caught the 204th ball of his career, a school record.
And yet he would have traded in every last one of them for a chance to improve on the Tigers' 0-11 record against No. 1 teams.
"It's hard to enjoy it," Coffman said of his night. "I tried to go out and make some plays, but we just didn't really show up in the first half."
Earlier in the week, quarterback Chase Daniel confidently proclaimed that he had the privilege of throwing to the best tight end in the nation, and did so again Saturday after the loss. Although the Mackey Award candidate was the sole bright spot on a night the Tigers and their fans would like to purge from their memories, even Coffman wasn't without blame.
Down 14-0 midway through the first, Daniel completed a pass over the middle to Maclin in what looked like a crucial conversion on third-and-4 to keep the Tigers' hopes alive.
But Coffman was called for offensive pass interference on the play, hindering a Longhorns defender from making a play on the ball and forcing the Tigers to try again on what might as well have been third-and-Dallas.
"The linebacker tried to jam me at about 10 yards, we just ran into each other and I fell over the top of him," Coffman said. "The referee just thought I was trying to block him.
In the third quarter, with the Missouri offense looking more comfortable against a Longhorns defense lacking their first-half swagger, he provided a highlight, ripping a pass away from Texas safety Earl Thomas and trotting into the end zone to cut the Texas lead to 42-17.
"We've got to find ways to get him the ball more, and get J-Mac involved more," Daniel said. "What can you say about Chase, though? I mean, he's out there hurdling guys, playing his heart out ... I'm hurting for my teammates right now."
There's no circus catch that can replace what Coffman and the Tigers likely lost on Saturday night. A Daniel Heisman campaign, all but finished. National championship aspirations, now a distant memory. For at least one night, the Tigers were exposed as frauds, pretenders in the always-complex national title tapestry. A team once concerned about scoring too many points earlier in the season was suddenly the one asking for mercy.
And now, without a ranked opponent on their schedule until a date with Kansas two days after Thanksgiving, it will likely be nearly December until the Tigers have a chance to earn back any sense of national relevance and crawl out of hibernation.
For all the preseason talk of focusing on a Big 12 title, and a Big 12 title alone, there was no escaping the disappointment on players' faces afterwards, knowing their performance cost them something bigger. Still, Coffman and his teammates insist this week's preparation for a homecoming date with Colorado is just business as usual.
"We've just got to go back and refocus, watch what we did," Coffman said. "We've got to show up for every single quarter for every single play."