Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: Texas’ Tom Herman deserves a B-plus grade this season — with a chance for extra credit

Posted November 19th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Head coach Tom Herman gave himself an "incomplete" grade for this season. We give him a B-plus.
  • For shaping Sam Ehlinger into maybe the most improved quarterback in the land, offensive coordinator Tim Beck gets an A-minus.
  • Sadly, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando merits a D for a unit that's been on its heels the entire year.

The semester’s not over. Final exams remain.

But for now, what are the grades for Tom Herman and his coaching staff?

The second-year coach was asked Monday to grade himself as a head coach over his first two seasons.

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Incomplete,” Herman said.

He then added somewhat cryptically, “I’ll grade myself as a head coach when I retire.”

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait 20 years. We love giving out grades whenever we can, whether it’s for football performances or barbecue or even movies.

Texas head coach Tom Herman high fives Texas fans before an NCAA college football game between Texas and TCU in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

After 24 games in Austin and a 15-9 record, I’d give Herman 7 1/2 ducks. Sorry, creature of habit.

I’d probably give him a B-plus this season.

Beat Kansas on Friday, win the Big 12 championship against Oklahoma or West Virginia, and win a New Year’s Six bowl, and the grade elevates to an A-minus.

He gets pluses for posting an overall 8-3 record, for beating the Sooners, for positioning the Longhorns in Big 12 championship contention, for turning Royal-Memorial Stadium into a home-field advantage with a 5-1 record, for reaching as high as No. 6 in the country and for putting the program back on steady footing.

But he gets demerits for a horrible game against Maryland, terrible fourth-quarter finishes against OU and Texas Tech, horrendous starts against Maryland and Oklahoma State, a suspect defense most of the year and erratic special teams play.

Herman gets high marks for his offseason hire of offensive line coach Herb Hand, for maintaining team morale after yet another potentially season-destroying loss to Maryland, for keeping the team afloat emotionally after a two-game losing streak to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, for raising the performance of quarterback Sam Ehlinger and keeping backup Shane Buechele engaged enough to win two games.

Here are grades for his staff:

Tim Beck gets an A-minus. Hold your applause, as I’m sure many of you will. But the offensive coordinator is as responsible as any for helping make Sam Ehlinger the most improved quarterback in the nation. His offense has always had to play from behind. Now there were some warts with bad starts against Maryland, USC, Baylor and Oklahoma State, but he’s countered with a vintage, prolific Big 12-like offense in spite of a sputtering running game at times. Who’s calling the plays again?

Texas Longhorns Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Tim Beck works with QB Sam Ehlinger during their first open practice to the News media at Frank Denius Fields on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Hand gets a B-plus for terrific protection of Ehlinger in the pocket with only 20 sacks in 11 games — six of those came in two games — and for the good health of an offensive line that has basically relied on only six players for meaningful snaps. But even Herman has conceded the line has rarely gotten the push that it’s needed to create more room for its backs, until the Iowa State game. Uh, about that depth ….

Running backs coach Stan Drayton gets a B-minus. Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram have run hard all season and practiced great ball security with just one lost fumble by the two of them (Watson, against the Terrapins). Third-stringer Daniel Young has lost a pair of fumbles. Watson and Ingram have zero fumbles the last 10 games. However, Texas has had just one 100-yard rushing game from one of its backs.

Wide receivers coaches Drew Mehringer and Corby Meekins get an A. Lil’Jordan Humphrey has played at an All-American level and Biletnikoff caliber even though he wasn’t a semifinalist, Collin Johnson has had his best season and Devin Duvernay has had a breakout year to position himself for 2019. They’ve blocked well, been physical for jump balls and made yards after the catch, especially Humphrey, Texas’ 12-legged Moving Pile.

Derek Warehime nets a B-plus for tight ends because Andrew Beck has had a stellar year blocking and receiving.

Oscar Giles scores a C-plus for his defensive line. He’s milked a lot of potential out of All Big 12-caliber defensive end Charles Omenihu and got steady play from Chris Nelson, but there hasn’t been enough penetration.

Jason Washington and Craig Naivar both get Cs for their work in the secondary and on special teams. There’s been a whole lot of feast or famine, a lot of highs and lows, from the defensive backs and kickers.

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando merits a D despite a terrific game against Iowa State. Yes, he has to coach in the shark-infested Big 12, but he got an A last season in the same league. His unit has had a dramatic dropoff, has had horrendous starts with eight opponents having scored on 11 opening possessions and has made the fourth-quarter collapse a UT staple. The defense has had 16 takeaways but has scored only thrice with safeties against Maryland and Kansas State and Anthony Wheeler’s blocked field-goal return versus USC.

Bevo Boulevard: An A-plus.

Chris Del Conte’s checkered orange suit: An F.

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