Tom Herman has completed his fourth game-week press conference of the season.
Sometimes these Monday media availabilities skew toward the week’s opponent, sometimes toward the game that was played the previous Saturday and sometimes about the team itself, especially when there are levels of concern like there have been the previous two Mondays.
Today was a little bit of everything: Acknowledgment of the big win over USC, speculation over what that victory means in the big picture in terms of momentum and validation and culture, and thoughts on TCU.
Let’s put it this way: Herman was literally all smiles as he stepped up to the microphone.
He started by thanking the fans; Saturday’s attendance 103,507 — a school record. “It was fun and had a direct impact on the game, it really did,” Herman said.
He was asked some Monday morning quarterback type of questions — why didn’t you take that penalty on third-and-goal, why did you play Sam Ehlinger the whole game instead of giving Shane Buechele some snaps, that kind of stuff — but he answered each one clearly and moved on. That kind of stuff is easy to do after a win.
Why didn’t Texas take that goal-line penalty?
“It (the goal-line stand) provided a ton of energy,” he said. “It wasn’t your normal fourth-and-1. We certainly could have backed them up to third-and-6, stopped them and then they jog their field goal unit out and they probably would’ve had three points. But we knew if we chose for it to be fourth-and-1 that there was a high likelihood that they would go for it at that point.”
And he was right. Texas did decline the penalty, USC did choose to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1 and Texas did stop it, thanks to Brandon Jones’ touchdown-saving tackle.
The Trojans, up 14-13 at the time, didn’t score again. And that was in the second quarter.
And why did Ehlinger play the whole way in a 37-14 game, as opposed to shaking some rust off Shane Buechele or giving freshmen Cameron Rising or Casey Thompson a first look on the field?
“Shane is awesome,” Herman answered. “That guy will be ready, there’s no doubt in my mind. He will not be rusty. He’s healthy, he’s bouncing around, coaching the heck out of Sam on the sideline, talking to coach Beck and myself on the headset even during series or right after series on what he saw. So he is fully engaged. And the opportunity to get him in when you’re running the clock out, I don’t think that’s — you’ve spent 70-some odd snaps with one quarterback meshing with the same running back and the same center, so that probably wasn’t the ideal time to do that.”
On to other things …
- Linebacker/defensive end Malcolm Roach will miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured foot. He’ll have surgery on Wednesday.
- Running back Keaontay Ingram “had a good day yesterday running straight ahead; he’s questionable. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow when we practice.”
- Center Zach Shackelford is “probably doubtful.”
- Wide receiver Brennan Eagles (hamstring) is “probably doubtful right now.”
- Safety/linebacker DeMarvion Overshown “is coming on but is still probably a week or two away.”
He was asked a few questions about TCU:
On the Horned Frogs’ offense, which put up 500 yards on Ohio State: “Considering what I know about how talented and good Ohio State’s defense is, we’ve got our work cut out for us on both sides of the football. TCU has speed everywhere, their skill guys on offense are fast in terms of the wide receivers and running backs. Obviously on defense, even their front is fast and athletic. They played well, they came up a bit short but it’s as fast of a defense as I’ve seen in a long time.”
On how you beat a team with speed like that: “We can run too. We’ve got a lot of speed on defense. Offensively going side to side is probably not — there’s going to be times and places for it, but I think in the run game you’ve got to go vertically a little bit, you’ve got to try to push some of these athletes off the ball a little bit and find creases. We’ve got to keep them in front of us on defense; we can’t let them break free ’cause it’s going to be hard to chase them down and offensively you’ve got to stick with the vertical run game as much as you can.”
And on TCU head coach Gary Patterson: “His defenses do a really good job of mixing zone with man, mixing fronts, mixing blitzes in kind of at the right time and he’s going to scout you till his eyeballs come out. He’s gonna know when the back is six centimeters shaded to the left, that you’re 92 percent likely to get this run or this pass or whatever it is. … Tremendous defensive coach, tremendous head coach, the guy’s won the Big 12, he’s won four straight against the University of Texas so I’ve got a ton of respect for him.
“His defenses do a really good job of mixing zone with man, mixing fronts, mixing blitzes in kind of at the right time and he’s going to scout you till his eyeballs come out,” he said. “He’s gonna know when the back is six centimeters shaded to the left, that you’re 92 percent likely to get this run or this pass or whatever it is. … Tremendous defensive coach, tremendous head coach, the guy’s won the Big 12, he’s won four straight against the University of Texas so I’ve got a ton of respect for him.”
Herman said the team had a 30-minute meeting on Sunday to talk about how important it is to put the USC win behind it, not keep it with them. Same thing happens every week, even when it’s a loss. Especially when it’s a loss, perhaps.
“The only people whose opinions should matter when it comes to the game of football are the people in that team meeting room, your teammates and your coaches,” Herman said. “Basically pleading with them, pleading with the leaders, to school the young guys up. It was the same after we only beat Tulsa by seven points; it was fairly the same meeting. In this family you can be bombarded with outside messages that really have no impact on our preparation for TCU. It was a big point of emphasis throughout the day yesterday.”
Saturday’s game is a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. It’ll be carried on Fox.
The last five Texas-TCU matchups:
2013: Texas 30, TCU 7 (Fort Worth)
2014: No. 6 TCU 48, Texas 10 (Austin)
2015: No. 4 TCU 50, Texas 7 (Fort Worth)
2016: TCU 31, Texas 9 (Austin)
2017: No. 10 TCU 24, Texas 7 (Fort Worth)
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