BEVO BEAT Football

Tom Herman on the Texas run game, being out-coached and the state of the Horns

Posted November 18th, 2019

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Tom Herman’s weekly game-week press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Baylor has come and gone.

 

What you need to know:

1. Wide receiver Collin Johnson is considered doubtful for this week. He’s still nursing a sore hamstring that kept him out of the Iowa State game.

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2. Cornerback Anthony Cook is out. He’s suffering from a “tibiofibular sprain,” which is basically a high ankle sprain. Herman said it’s similar to the injury that had sidelined Caden Sterns.

3. Junior Angilau returned to practice on Sunday. He missed the Iowa State game with a MCL knee sprain. “So if you want to look for a tough S.O.B. on our team, and we’ve got a lot of them, but Junior Angilau certainly is one of them. Remarkable what he was able to do in the time and commitment what he put in in his rebab.”

4. Devin Duvernay didn’t make the Biletnikoff Award semifinalists list:

“I don’t know how you leave off a guy who’s leading the Power Five in catches, leading the country in broken tackles, he’s leading the country in third-down receptions,” Herman said. “And you’re telling me he’s not one of the 20 best wideouts in the country? That’s a shame. I don’t know what the criteria is, then.”

 

The best questions Herman got today

1. When last we saw Herman, in the post-game press conference in Ames, he was asked to explain Texas’ problems running the ball. He told reporters that he’d have to look at the game film before truly being able to answer that.

So, guess what the first question was that he got today?

“After watching the film, what did you see about the run game for it to disappear like that? And what do you need to tweak or change going forward?” Fox 7’s Dennis de la Pena asked.

Herman: “We had hats on hats for the most part, and we did early in the game, against a defense like that structurally, 5-yard, 7-yard gains are good runs. The issue was we had sprinkled in there way too many TFL’s (tackles for loss) early. And some of those were communication issues in terms of who we were blocking, and some of those were fundamental issues with how we were blocking it. So I think you saw a unit offensively that couldn’t get out of its own way with a bunch of self-inflicted wounds. It was not anything that we had not practiced.”

2. Brian Davis looped back to that a few minutes later. “When you describe the breakdowns in the run game? Those sound kind of shocking for this to be Game 10. Why do you think there are so many issues that you’re describing, which sound basic and sound like coaching issues?”

“Everything’s a coaching issue,” Herman answered. “To play your sixth offensive lineman in there and have that — again, none of these are excuses. You asked for reasons, I’m going to give you a couple. Having two guys in there in the starting lineup that for the first time all year were playing those positions, I think did affect a little bit. I think the uniqueness of the defense; I likened it last week to getting ready for a defense to play a triple-option offense in one week. It’s extremely unique, but certainly nothing that we hadn’t practiced. And I think there’s a level of human nature that kicks in. When you start getting frustrated, you start pressing. Those are all things that can derail the run game.”

3. Herman also was asked why Texas went conservative on its final drive, especially after the passing game was humming at that point and the running game had struggled all day.

After a Sam Ehlinger run to the left for no gain, and then a run to the right for no gain, and then a third-down interception, Iowa State forced a punt, then ended up running out the clock for its walk-off field goal.

“Had we thrown three incomplete passes and let 30 seconds run off the clock, I’d be answering a lot harder questions than I am right now,” Herman said. “… At that point in the game, time is a humongous factor and we’d been playing pretty good defense. … And we felt regardless of how we had been running the football throughout different games in our tenure here, we have been able to do that at the end of the game at a very, very successful rate.”

He referred to the 2017 win over Kansas State, when Texas put the game away by chewing more than six minutes off the clock at the end, and this year’s win over Kansas State, with another six-minute drive. “We felt like the right thing to do was use the clock to our advantage.”

4. Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods wanted to know what Herman has to say to a “disgruntled fan base” unhappy with a 10th straight year with at least four losses.

“They have every right to be, if they are true supporters,” Herman said. “We have not played to the level of our expectations, and if you’re a fan of us, you probably have very similar expectations and we have not met those expectations thus far.”

 

Quick hits:

  • On where the Horns go from here: We’ve still got a bunch of seniors in that locker room that have bled, sweat and cried for this program. We owe it to be determined to correct the mistakes that were made and do our best to go 1-0 against Baylor this week. … Again, 18- to 22-year-old kids are pretty resilient and they’re all competitors, and they understand that we’ve got a game to play this week against an in-state opponent that’s only lost one game, and that was by three points last week.
  • On the mood of the team: “Pretty somber around the facility yesterday, as it should be after you lose.”
  • He opened his presser going back to the first question that he got in Ames after the game, when our own Brian Davis asked if he’d been out-coached. Herman answered then that they’re never out-coached. Today, he went back to that question: “Brian, you had asked me post-game about being out-coached. I had taken that, hey were we fooled, were we tricked, duped, whatever it is. But when you lose a game — any game — you’re out-coached. From player execution, that’s our job. To play calls to play tendencies, you name it. It’s on us.”
  • Why has Texas been out-physicaled at times? Herman responded with coaching and injuries. “They’re playing hurt and they’re playing through a lot of stuff,” he said.
  • Texas has been outscored 21-0 in the first quarter of the last two games. “The simplest answer is to get the offense in rhythm, get the quarterback in rhythm and on defense, maybe keep some of the calls pretty simple so they can get their feet wet and not fly around.”
  • What would have to happen for Texas to still get back to Arlington for the Big 12 championship game: (1) The Horns would have to beat Baylor on Saturday. (2) Then they’d also have to beat Texas Tech at home next week. (3) Baylor, meanwhile, would need to go 0-2 in its final games — at home Saturday vs. Texas and then next week at Kansas. (4) And Iowa State would have to lose one of its final two — this week at home against Kansas, or next week at Kansas State.

The last five Texas-Baylor games

2014: No. 7 Baylor, 28-7 (Austin)

2015: Texas, 23-17 (Waco)

2016: Texas, 35-34 (Austin)

2017: Texas, 38-7 (Waco)

2018: No. 9 Texas, 23-17 (Austin)

Saturday’s game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. in Waco. It’ll be carried by Fox Sports 1. The Longhorns battled back from a 20-7 deficit to lose by walk-off field goal at Iowa State, 23-21. Later that night, the Bears blew a big lead over Oklahoma before the Sooners completed their biggest comeback in program history to win 34-31.

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