Texas came crashing back to earth last Saturday in Stillwater, a 38-35 loss to Oklahoma State that knocked the Longhorns from sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and, with two losses, all but ended their hope for a CFP berth.
Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia all are tied with 4-1 marks in the Big 12. Win out, and the Longhorns will make the conference title game. But West Virginia comes to town this week, which makes this game a big one.
With that as the backdrop, Tom Herman has just wrapped up his weekly press conference. And this is how he started it:
“The sun came up today. As it did yesterday.”
He reiterated that Texas’ best is good enough to compete with anyone in the country, but isn’t good enough yet to overcome another team playing its best when the Longhorns aren’t. Still, he liked that Texas didn’t quit; what would have been the sixth biggest comeback in school history fell three points short.
“We didn’t quit,” he said. “We were down 17 at halftime, and it was rah-rah-rah in the locker room at halftime, and we come out and we gotta punt on our first two series. At that point, it would’ve been very easy in a different culture for a lot of guys to look at each other on the sidelines and say ‘You know what, boys, tonight’s just not our night.’ And they didn’t.”
- Defensive end Breckyn Hager, whom last we saw rushing in on OSU’s final snap in victory formation, has a “pretty severe” sprain of his sternum/clavicle area. He’s day to day.
- Wide receiver D’Shawn Jamison, whom last we saw fumbling a punt return, has a foot sprain. Also day to day.
- Linebacker Malcolm Roach may be able to return to practice in limited fashion, Herman said. He added that Texas is counting on him for next week’s game at Texas Tech.
On to the questions and answers:
On the first-quarter suspensions of Kris Boyd and Davante Davis and whether he has any anxiety of something like that happening again: “No anxiety. Zero. It doesn’t matter if we were playing Week 1 or Week 10 or who the opponent is or if it was Oklahoma State or Oklahoma or Tulsa or San Jose State. We have standards to uphold and when those standards aren’t met, there’s consequences for that. Everybody in our program knows that. We don’t love ’em any less. When you ground your kid, it doesn’t mean you love him any less. … We love Kris Boyd and we love Davante Davis and we love L.J. Humphrey, absolutely. They made a minor mistake and our culture needs to be reinforced on a daily basis.”
Herman said the decision was made the night before the game to hold the cornerbacks out for a quarter and Humphrey out for a series.
On why UT seems to struggle against non-ranked opponents vs. ranked teams: “We were plenty up. We didn’t play good. … I think there’s a lot of factors. One, it’s a really good team that we just played. I know everybody wants to look at records, but I look at players and I look at coaches. … I don’t think ranked vs. unranked doesn’t matter to our guys.”
On players calling out other players, specifically Andrew Beck calling out Hager in Stillwater: “My 88-year-old grandmother knows you’re not supposed to do that (Hager’s final-play rush). And I’m not encouraging my guys to go seek out to criticize your teammate, but when you’re asked a direct question, I think open, honest communication is the only way to go about it. That’s how we all felt. … They’re roommates. They live together. So I don’t think there’s any bad blood or anything like that. We instruct our guys: When you’re asked a question, answer it honestly.”
On WVU quarterback Will Grier (2,272 yards, 25 TDs, 7 INTs): “He is super talented. You can see why he is on top or at the top of most people’s Heisman Trophy short lists. He’s gonna make plays, and obviously the two receivers are his go-to guys. But the one thing they’re doing better this year in my opinion than they did last year: They’re running the ball really well, too. And that creates quite the conundrum on defense.”
On this team’s depth: “They’re starting for a reason. It’s ’cause they’re playing better than the other guy. Anytime you have a starter go down, by definition the quality of play might go down a little bit. One of the pillars of our program is called ‘competitive focus,’ meaning when your number’s called, that you’re ready. We’ve got to do a really good job with our key backups; you saw some of them go in and probably didn’t bat an eye. When you see Chris Brown go in, when you see Josh Thompson go in, when you see Gerald Wilbon go in. … We’re on our way in terms of creating some depth but we’ve certainly got to accelerate it.”
On where this team’s at after the loss: “I think we responded fantastically to the opening-season loss, I don’t think anybody can dispute that. So I think this is very similar. That game in Stillwater will only define our season if we let it. We have an opportunity to define our season by how we respond to it as well. … We’re gonna figure out what’s really inside our guys and I think they’ll respond as well if not better than we did after Week 1.”
On David Sills V, Grier’s top target: “The size is what stands out — 6-4, 210 pounds. His body control is phenomenal in terms of contorting his body and in mid-air when he jumps, and obviously his ball skills are off the charts in terms of his ability to catch the football. You can certainly see that he’s got some really good big-picture awareness and just has a knack for getting open in zone coverage and then in man coverage presents the body mismatch. He’s a tough one to account for.”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. The last five Texas-WVU matchups:
2013: Texas, 47-40 (OT, Morgantown)
2014: Texas, 33-16 (Austin)
2015: West Virginia, 38-20 (Morgantown)
2016: West Virginia, 24-20 (Austin)
2017: Texas, 28-14 (Morgantown)
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