Coaches have their “24-hour rule,” which dictates that players celebrate or commiserate over the last game and then forget about it.
That’s all fine and good from a conceptual standpoint. It’s not practical, though.
Players spend Sunday on the phone with family members and significant others. On Monday, they see friends and classmates. On Tuesday, they talk with reporters, who need to sometimes rehash recent events. Maybe Wednesday is the day to look forward. Or Thursday.
Instagram and Twitter run 24 hours every day. All those pats on the back add up.
How are Texas players supposed to prepare for this week’s Big 12 opener against No. 17 TCU when all anybody wants to talk about is that 37-14 win over USC? Herman said he spent 30 minutes stressing that exact topic during Sunday’s team meeting. “Basically pleading with them,” he said, to move on.
“In this family you can be bombarded with outside messages that have no impact on our preparation for TCU,” Herman said. “So it was a big point of the emphasis throughout the day yesterday, making sure that the opinions of the people in that locker room and in those coaches’ offices are the only ones that we worry about.”
In recent years, the Longhorns have struggled the week after big, emotional wins. TCU (2-1) is a bigger opponent than USC, in all reality. The Frogs are ranked higher, and they’re 5-1 in this series since 2012.
“It’s a team that quite frankly has had our program’s number for the last few years,” Herman said.
Herman said Sunday’s team meeting also featured a detailed discussion of the second quarter goal-line stand against USC. It may prove to be a pivotal moment for the entire season.
The Trojans had third-and-goal at the Longhorns’ 1-yard line, and the defense stuffed Vavae Malepeai. USC was flagged for an illegal formation, though. Instead of taking the penalty and pushing the Trojans back five yards, Herman declined it.
That brought up fourth-and-goal still at the 1. Stephen Carr took a pitch wide ride and got knocked out of bounds by Brandon Jones at the 3-yard line.
Herman said defensive coordinator Todd Orlando “walked up and said, ‘Coach, we got this. We got this. We’ll stop ’em.’”
Coaches ask the players to trust their training. In return, the players earn their coaches’ trust by delivering in pressure moments. For a program still learning how to win, it was a monumental moment.
“Let’s not let that sequence go by without analyzing that,” Herman said. “It was neat to see the looks in their eyes when they realized that this coaching staff and myself has a tremendous amount of belief in them.
“Now, again, that’s not to say that some great epiphany is going to carry us into the wild blue yonder,” Herman said, “but it was just another step in the build of our program in terms of proving again that we believe in them and we trust them and they can trust us.”
Did Herman have any doubts about Orlando’s gut instinct? “Nope,” he said.
It was a demoralizing moment for the visitors from Los Angeles. Orlando was so excited, he took off running down the sideline. “I don’t know that I want to see him sprint down the sideline,” the head coach said.
One could build the argument this was Texas’ best defensive performance on Herman and Orlando’s watch.
USC tallied up 317 total yards, but the Trojans finished with minus-5 yards rushing. Quarterback JT Daniels was sacked three times and threw one interception. Linebacker Gary Johnson had four of UT’s 10 1/2 tackles for loss, a figure that helped him win Big 12 defensive player of the week honors.
It wasn’t all good news, though. Linebacker Malcolm Roach suffered a fractured foot injury and will be out 6-8 weeks — most likely the rest of the regular season. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Receiver Brennan Eagles (hamstring) is doubtful for the TCU game, and defensive back DeMarvion Overshown (knee) is still maybe a week or two away from returning. Running back Keaontay Ingram (foot) ran in a straight line on Sunday, Herman said, and the freshman is questionable.
What cannot be questioned is TCU’s vigor for stomping those in burnt orange. “Who said we circled it?,” Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson said on Monday’s Big 12 conference call. “That can’t be your only game that you win, or you’ll be 1-10.”
TCU had 511 total yards and several chances in a 40-28 loss to Ohio State at AT&T Stadium. Patterson was steamed afterward, gave a brief opening statement to reporters and said, “On to Texas.”
Herman is expecting a well-prepared unit from Fort Worth.
“He’s going to scout you, you know, until his eyeballs come out,” Herman said of Patterson. “He’s going to know when the back is six centimeters shaded to the left, you’re 92 percent likely to get this run or this pass or whatever it is. You’ve got to be cognizant of all of your tendencies.”
The Horns have a tendency to take it easy after big wins. Only thing is, there’s a bigger one coming straight ahead.
“We feel like our best is good enough to compete with anybody,” Herman said.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.