Tom Herman’s Rice game-week press conference has come and gone.
What you need to know:
1. B.J. Foster will be out “at least a couple of weeks” with a “significant” hamstring issue. DeMarvion Overshown likely will move up to take his spot at nickel.
2. All of the injured running backs who missed the LSU game are still injured and will miss the Rice game. That’s Jordan Whittington, Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson for those counting at home. Herman called the possibility of getting Young or Johnson back for next week’s Big 12 opener was “a pipe dream,” and pointed to the West Virginia game on Oct. 5 as the more likely scenario. Whittington will be out another five weeks or so.
Texas is coming off a 45-38 loss to LSU. Either that played a part or it didn’t, but Herman definitely seemed a bit gruff. The Longhorns dropped from No. 9 to No. 12 in this week’s AP poll.
“Our guys are very eager to get back to work, turn the page and move on to going 1-0 this week,” Herman said.
And yet, most of Monday was spent looking back at LSU, not forward to Rice.
The three best questions asked today:
1. After the state of the running backs room dominated his first two Monday pressers of the season, this one was heavy on defense. Louisiana Tech’s quarterback threw for 331 yards and LSU’s Joe Burrow went off for 471.
The cornerbacks have struggled, Jalen Green against LSU and Kobe Boyce against Louisiana Tech, and the safeties have been productive tacklers but haven’t flashed with a big play yet.
Herman was in no mood to blame his secondary, though.
“It’s very fixable,” he said. “We’ve got talented players that care. Part of the problem is when you complete passes, it’s not always on the secondary. Let’s not discount the fact that Joe Burrow had about as good a game as — he threw the ball in spots and places with the amount of accuracy, it was something to see. We’ve got to do better, though. We’re gonna face really good receivers and quarterbacks in this league, but we’re not ready to sound all the alarms just yet.”
And there was pushback a few minutes later when the Statesman’s Brian Davis asked about any specific concerns about the secondary, particularly with all the completions over the middle. Herman was having none of that.
“Again, those are two separate entities,” Herman said. “We’re all just assuming that it was the secondary’s fault that people were open, and that’s not a fair assumption until you know what each coverage call was an whose responsibility that is.”
Soon after that, Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods wanted to know about that critical Justin Jefferson touchdown on third-and-17 in the final minutes. “Coach, I know that hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s easy to be—”
Richardson: “It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, right? So the two questions I do have —”
Herman: “Don’t say that to your subscribers, that what they’re doing is easy.”
Richardson then asked the question: “If you had to do it all over again, would you still dial up the blitz on third-and-17?”
Herman: “Honestly … we don’t live in a world of what-ifs or shoulda-woulda-coulda’s. We made the call. It felt like the right call at the time and the quarterback was jumping, falling on one of his offensive linemen and threw it right in the receiver’s hands.”
2. More defense. Davis also pointed out that after two games, “At least statistically, your starting three defensive linemen don’t have a sack or a quarterback pressure yet. How much is that complicating things?”
Herman: “None. Malcolm Roach and Keondre coburn were absolutely .. um, they had a very good game. Theywere very disruptive. Stats don’t matter for defensive linemen. Do you disrupt the offense? And if the answer is yes, you’re doing your job.”
3. And Herman also wasn’t buying into any silver linings or moral victories about having stood toe-to-toe with LSU.
“Our goal is not to just belong. Our goal is to win those things,” he said. “And I get there’s a bit of PTSD around here for the prior decade or so, but I told our team in three years we’ve come this far (raising his hand above his head), and we’ve got this far to go (a couple of inches) to go to be elite, and that last bit is the hardest part.”
The Longhorns play Rice at Houston’s NRG Stadium (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
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