BEVO BEAT Football

Tom Herman, on Texas’ game with No. 6 LSU: ‘We know there’s a bigger-picture goal out there’

It's been awhile since Royal-Memorial Stadium has seen a top-10 matchup, but it's one of two, maybe three, equally big-time matchups this year.

Posted September 2nd, 2019


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

What you need to know: 

1. The big injury Texas is dealing with: Freshman running back Jordan Whittington. He’s dealing with a sports hernia — or, as Herman put it, he’s suffered a “torn adductor off his pubic off of his pubic symphysis.” It’s an injury that Whittington has dealt with since high school. He’s going to Philadelphia for surgery. He’ll be out for four to six weeks.

2. At tailback against LSU, Texas will go with Keaontay Ingram and … Roschon Johnson, “who just started learning the position 10 days ago.” He had 11 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.1 yards a pop. David Gbenda, who was a linebacker, started practicing at tailback on Sunday. He’ll stay in that third running back spot until Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson return from injuries.


3. Wide receiver Joshua Moore is suspended indefinitely. There’s punishment being handled internally, and he’s still practicing with the team. Moore was arrested over the summer on misdemeanor gun charges. Last week, Herman said there may be a Moore update this week. There isn’t. Herman said the decision on Moore’s status would be handled by himself “with counsel,” including  AD Chris Del Conte.

The three best questions asked today:

1. For the second straight week, running backs were the topic of the day. Probably because that’s the biggest issue on the team.

Brian Davis asked whether Texas knew Whittingon’s lingering sports hernia injury was going to be an issue with the freshman.

“I wish we had known how severe (it was),” Herman answered. “It was repaired. It was repaired in high school and it nagged him a little bit in spring ball, but he missed zero practices in spring ball. Nagged him a little bit in summer workouts, but he missed zero workouts. It did not sideline him. So we knew it was nagging. It was MRI’d, if that’s a verb, he had an MRI done on it a few weeks ago and it was not torn. Then in a play where he got tackled, one of his catches, it’s torn.”

Herman said he thought Ingram played well physically, but might have lacked patience on a couple of runs and didn’t wait for the holes. Herman said the transition Johnson is making at running back isn’t nearly as big a deal as what’s facing Gbenda because Johnson went through spring football and got familiar with the offense. “At quarterback, you’ve got to know it all.”

He was asked a follow-up question about whether Whittington’s absence, and having to rely on a quarterback and a linebacker after that, will change Saturday’s game plan against LSU.

The answer: Nah.

“Not on game day. I think you’ve got to do whatever it takes to win, especially when you’re playing a top-10 team,” he said. “… On game day, you’ve got to turn them loose and do whatever it takes to win.”

2. The Longhorns shut Louisiana Tech out for three quarters, but did end up giving up 340 passing yards. A lot of those came in the fourth quarter. Jalen Green looked solid at one cornerback, but Kobe Boyce at the other corner spot? Not so much. The safeties (Brandon Jones, Caden Sterns and Chris Brown) looked good, too.

“Anytime a team attempts 54 passes, you’re going to give up some passing yards,” Herman said. “When you’re up 31-0 and you’re stopping the run as well as we were stopping the run, there’s really only one option for them. You’re not going to hold them to zero. I don’t know very many teams that have zero yards passing at the end of a game. So I thought it was good. We still have work to do. We can eliminate some of those yards by assignment issues that we busted, but our technique and our physicality looked.”

About those corners: “Jalen graded out as a champion. None of those other three guys (fellow cornerbacks D’Shawn Jamison, Anthony Cook and Boyce) did. I don’t know if it was reps or anything like that. But they played OK. Certainly well enough to get a 45-14 victory over a team that threw the ball 54 times.”
Boyce had a particularly tough opener, but Herman didn’t say a change at starter would necessarily happen this week.

3. The importance of this game is obvious. On Texas’ schedule, three games loom over the whole season — this one against LSU, the Red River Rivalry matchup with Oklahoma, and a probable rematch with the Sooners in the Big 12 championship game. Kirk Bohls  took a shot at the Big 12 vs. SEC storyline, but got stopped in his tracks because Herman’s not having any of the SEC stereotype as the country’s best conference.

“I look at records,” Herman said. “I look at the records over the last three years against non-conference opponents. I look at schedules. I don’t … it’s not my job to judge what conference is better than the other, but I know this: I haven’t had one NFL scout or general manager tell me they’re drafting kids based on a patch on their jersey or anything like that. Conferences are great in terms of geographical regionalization, but beyond that I don’t know if anybody’s qualified to say which one’s better or worse than  another. Play the games.”

Not that Saturday night isn’t going to be, well, huge.

“I don’t want to downplay the significance of the matchup,” Herman said. “I think it’s really important for us. We understand that to get to where we want to go as a program that we’re going to have to play in and to win these type of games. And to do it against another top-10 opponent is pretty cool, especially at home. But I also know that Bob Bowlsby’s not going to be handing out the Big 12 championship trophy after this game, either. … We know there’s a bigger-picture goal out there as well.”

This week’s AP poll hasn’t come out yet, but this should be a top-10 matchup at Royal-Memorial Stadium. LSU beat Georgia Southern 55-3; Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow tied a school record with five touchdown passes.

Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. It’ll be carried on ABC.

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