BEVO BEAT Football

Tom Herman, on Texas’ pass defense: ‘We are what our stats say we are’

Posted September 16th, 2019


Tom Herman’s Oklahoma State game-week press conference has come and gone.


What you need to know:

1. Injury updates: Three key Horns are injured but all are considered probable for Saturday. Center Zach Shackelford (sprained foot) will be “fairly limited” in practice today, linebacker Joseph Ossai (sprained shoulder) won’t practice today but should on Tuesday with a brace, and wide receiver Collin Johnson (sore hamstring) will practice on Tuesday as well after missing the Rice game.


2. Injury updates, Part II: Defensive backs B.J. Foster and DeMarvion Overshown are still out. The goal is for both to come back for the West Virginia game on Oct. 5, after the bye week.

3. Young’s back: Daniel Young played at Rice, his first action of the season after suffering a high ankle sprain in August. That helps the running backs room immediately.

“We’ve got to have some discussions on what we do with David Gbenda moving forward if Danny stays healthy,” Herman said. “To have two scholarship running backs and a third converted quarterback playing that position very well, allows you to take a deep breath in a little bit in terms of the crazy contingency plans we were trying to dream up.”

4. Rankings: Texas (2-1) stayed at No. 12 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll; the Longhorns are the nation’s highest-ranked team with a loss. Oklahoma State (3-0) had the 27th-most votes in the poll.

5. Here comes Chuba: OSU running back Chuba Howard, who rushed for 256 yards and a career-high three touchdowns against Tulsa, was named the Big 12 offensive player of the week on Monday. That’s the best rushing performance in the country so far.


The three best questions asked today:

1. About that pass defense …

Through three games, Texas ranks 62nd nationally in points allowed (24.0 ppg), 125th against the pass (330.0 ypg), 24th against the run (87.3 ypg) and 96th in total defense (417.3 ypg). Herman was asked to rate his defense heading into Big 12 play.

“Pass defense? Tough measuring stick on Saturday against Rice in terms of the style of offense, but one-on-ones were in there, I thought did a good job against the pass,” he said. “And we are what our stats say we are. The La Tech game wasn’t near as concerning to me simply because they had to throw the ball 54 times and a lot of those came against ours twos and threes at the end of the game. But we’ve go to do a better job against elite teams like the LSUs of the world. Every experience is a learning experience, no player is a finished product ever and they continue to learn. The good thing is I haven’t seen the same mistake over and over again. We just need to keep coaching every technique and scenario.”

2. Body of work by Jake

The awkward moment of the presser (there seems to be at least one of these every week) came when the Statesman’s Brian Davis wanted to talk about freshman receiver Jake Smith.

Davis: Is there a way to, or have you started thinking about, how can you get Jake and Devin (Duvernay) on the field at the same time?

Herman: (pondering) Um, why do we need to?

Davis: I don’t know. I’m asking, would anybody consider that?

Herman. Sure. (Pause)

Davis: … Follow up on Jake Smith, then. (laughter in the room) Just what do you think of his start? Just like Devin, he’s catching everything that’s thrown to him.

“He was not an early enrollee, so his first taste of college football was training camp, and it certainly hit him like a shovel to the face,” Herman answered. “But he made it through those dog days of training camp. Really proud of our staff too for not panicking when all those running backs went down and said, well, this is a kid that played a lot of running back in high school, because it would’ve just stunted his growth significantly at the slot receiver position.”

(Smith had six catches for 75 yards and 2 TDs against Rice. For the season, the two slot receivers have combined for 38 catches for 395 yards and 6 TDs).

3. Grading as champions

Toward the end, Herman was asked about his tight ends. Through three games, Cade Brewer and Reese Leitao have combined for only four catches for 21 yards. Neither of them had a catch at NRG Stadium.

“Tight ends are playing great,” Herman said. “Cade and Reese both graded out as champions (against Rice). They’re blocking their tails off, getting involved in the throw game when we need them to. They have been asset certainly in the run game.”

(Texas’ running game has not yet produced a 100-yard rusher and ranks 86th in the country.)


Texas-Oklahoma State

Saturday’s game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at Royal-Memorial Stadium. It’s another ABC game.

The last five meetings:

2018: OSU 38, No. 6 Texas 35 — Tylan Wallace had a huge night in Stillwater, with 10 catches for 222 yards and 2 TDs.

2017: No. 10 OSU 13, Texas 10 (OT) — Cowboys got the win in Austin when Sam Ehlinger’s OT pass was picked off in the end zone.

2016: OSU 49, No. 22 Texas 31 — Horns dropped to 2-2 after losing their Big 12 opener in Stillwater.

2015: No. 24 OSU 30, Texas 27 — Cowboys rallied with a pair of FGs in the finin Austin.

2014: Texas 28, OSU 7 — Tyrone Swoopes threw for 305 yards and 2 TDs in Stillwater.

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