Tom Herman’s game week press conference in advance of Saturday’s Kansas game has come and gone.
What you need to know
1. Herman’s not expecting any kind of hangover from the Oklahoma loss. “The sun came up, which is always a good thing,” he said, opening the presser. Later, he said there was a team leadership meeting Sunday night and that the players “are in a great place.”
“The thing about this rivalry game is we play it in the middle of the season unlike a lot of rivalry games that are played at the end of the year. So you better be able to bounce back if it doesn’t go your way and put it behind you. Learn from it, certainly. Use mistakes as feedback. … It’s never a failure if you learn from your mistakes and you improve.”
Later, he said there’s no “Defcon 5” feeling around the team. “There is zero sense of panic,” Herman said. “There is zero sense of ‘woe is me.’ The things that we did do poorly, we have shown at times we can do well. We’ve got to coach our guys to play with a level of consistency, especially against top-five opponents, to play at their maximum ability level. The things that you’ve seen that we had done so well, we’ve got to play with that kind of consistency against really, really good people.”
2. Injury updates:
- Another defensive back will be out for weeks. Chris Brown (fractured forearm) will need surgery. Herman guessed he’ll miss about six weeks.
- Wide receiver Collin Johnson has not been diagnosed with a concussion, but will continue to be evaluated.
- Linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch has a dislocated shoulder. He’ll miss this week’s game.
- Linebacker Juwann Mitchell has a sprained elbow. Herman didn’t think that would limit him too severely.
- Cornerback Jalen Green and safety Caden Sterns will miss this week’s game again. No Jordan Whittington, either.
The best questions Herman got today
1. Perhaps the two best questions Herman got came toward the end of the press conference. The Statesman’s Brian Davis asked what fans are probably wondering, too:
Should Roschon Johnson be your starting tailback?
“I don’t know. I’ll know after this week of practice.”
Davis followed up: “Is it because you don’t want to just promote him over Keaontay? The guy is clearly delivering for you.”
“Yeah, so is Keaontay,” Herman said. “Keaontay rushed for 120-something yards against Oklahoma State, too. So we’re not gonna throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
2. And then Brian followed up with this: “What’s your level of anger right now about how your guys were physically outmatched on Saturday, and that’s not how y’all play? What’s your level of pissed-offness right now?”
The question was interesting because the coach had spent the past 30 minutes tamping down any worries about the team or the team’s psyche or even the team deficiencies that were exposed at the Cotton Bowl.
“Um, none. Other than at myself,” Herman said. “You’re right. It was the first time that I can remember that we got out-physicaled on both sides of the ball, and that’s not us. So I’m obviously disappointed in everything in the way that the game unfolded and the way that we played. The only anger — I’m not gonna get angry at the kids. I’ll coach the coaches and the coaches will coach the kids. If there’s anybody to be angry at, it’s me. I obviously didn’t do enough to get our guys to play at the level that they’re capable of playing.”
3. About those missed tackles: Earlier, Brian asked: Six games in, what’s fixable and what’s not at this point?
“Everything’s fixable,” Herman said. “…It’s just reinforcement of the details.”
Brian followed up. “I guess I was talking big-picture. Six games left, you can still get to the Big 12 championship game. What are you and Todd (Orlando) talking about — ‘we’ve got to change X, Y or Z?'”
I don’t know if ‘change’ is the right word. Get better. Improve. Develop. Those are all words that come to mind. I think with all the young guys playing, we’ve got to simplify moving forward — not that we haven’t been trying to these last few weeks. … We’ve got to let our guys play fast, play fearless, unafraid to make mistakes.”
Herman said in the past couple of weeks, as the defense has dealt with key injuries, tackling drills have been emphasized less. That will change.
“There are still drills you can do,” he said. “Again, we’re so banged up defensively; it was not a great decision on my part in retrospect to limit the tackling these last few weeks in practice. It showed.”
4. About those sacks — and there were nine of them: What did OU do that Texas wasn’t prepared for?
“I don’t know if it was a whole lot that they did,” Herman said. “There was nothing they did that we hadn’t prepared for. I think the speed of it, especially on third down, they lined up to cover both guards and the center, ran a lot of twist games. We had seen that on film. … Again, there’s a lot of things that go in to sacks. We had backs that missed blitzers, we had receivers that ran routes at improper depth, we had the quarterback hang on to the ball too long. Also, we’ve got a quarterback that can scramble and is usually pretty good at getting himself out of trouble with his feet, and they brought him down for minus-1, minus-2 at times when he tried to scramble.”
5. About that loss to OU — what was the most frustrating thing for Herman to see last Saturday?
“How we played offensively,” he said. “We had been able to carry our young defense for most of the season by playing really sound, explosive at times, offense — and we didn’t. So that was discouraging, the execution level on that side of the ball.”
Unlike last week, when there were several questions about Oklahoma and Jalen Hurts and Lincoln Riley among others, the Kansas Jayhawks didn’t come up much at all today. The Longhorns (4-2, 2-1) dropped four spots, to No. 15, in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. Oklahoma stayed at No. 6.
Texas and Kansas kick off at 6:30 on Saturday. The Jayhawks were off last week.