BEVO BEAT Football

Tom Herman: Texas is on the ropes, so is it time to fight out of it or throw in the towel?

Posted November 4th, 2019


Tom Herman’s game week press conference in advance of Saturday’s Kansas State game has come and gone.


What you need to know

As was hoped/expected, Texas should get some key players back from injuries this week.


1. Listed as probable — safety Caden Sterns (knee), nickel back B.J. Foster (shoulder) and running back Jordan Whittington (sports hernia). Both Sterns and Foster practiced last Wednesday and Thursday and again .

2. Listed as questionable — linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch. He hasn’t practiced because of his shoulder, but Herman said there’s a chance he’ll get back to practice on Tuesday or Wednesday. Same with safety DeMarvion Overshown (shoulder), though he has been cleared to resume practice.

3. Kickoff was announced for next week’s game at Iowa State. It’ll be another 2:30 game.


The best questions Herman got today

For these past couple of Monday pressers, the first question has been the most interesting one. The Monday after the close win over Kansas, the Statesman’s Kirk Bohls wanted to know how much Herman felt the fans should be worried. Because they were, and as it turned out, there was cause for worry because the Longhorns dropped their game at TCU later that week.

Today, it was the Statesman’s Cedric Golden who asked the first question that a lot of fans are probably wondering, too: During the past off week, what hard questions did you ask yourself as head coach, and what was the tenor of the conversations with the assistants?

If we’re understanding Herman’s answer right, the coach didn’t ask himself any hard questions. Or did he, since he asks himself hard questions every day? Huh?

“The tenor was that there’s a level of expectation at the University of Texas in all three phases, and we’re not quite achieving that,” Herman said. “We’re not firing on all cylinders. So it’s our job to figure out why and figure out what the players we’re playing with do best and put them in the best position to be successful. I don’t have time to ask myself hard questions. I ask myself hard questions every day. I hope anybody that’s worth a salt does. So to tell you specifically what I asked myself, I don’t know. I ask myself hard questions every day. But there was a deep dive into hey, what can we do really, really well with the players that we plan on having here these next four weeks.

That question, and answer, only raised more questions. Such as: (1) What kind of hard questions do you ask yourself every day? (2) So, you DID or DIDN’T ask yourself hard questions, among the hard questions that are already being asked every day, specifically about this team? And (3) So, what can Texas do really, really well with the players it has for these next four games? Are we talking about Joseph Ossai moving to defensive end? Or what to do with Whittington now that Roschon Johnson has established himself as Keaontay Ingram’s backup? Or some moves along the offensive or defensive lines?

Cedric’s question, however, led directly to a Brian Davis question. Davis asked a big-picture question on the home stretch of the Big 12 race. But Herman didn’t really want to go there:

Davis: Tom, with November being a blank canvas, four games left, this thing can go any which way. What in your mind do you think this team is truly capable of doing in the last month?

Herman, without missing a beat: “Go 1-0 against Kansas State.”

Davis: I understand that, but maybe broaden out the lens just a little bit.

Herman: “You guys think this is an act or this is like, fake. I don’t know what you guys think, having been around me for three years. I literally had to ask somebody today, in case I got asked that question, who do we play after Kansas State? I honestly didn’t know. So I don’t know. That’s irrelevant to what we have in front of us.”

As it turned out, it took 10-15 minutes, but Herman eventually looped back to Davis’ question. And finally answered it, in response to a Bohls question about the team’s confidence at this point of the season.

“To Brian’s point, I don’t think anybody’s oblivious to what’s in front of us in terms of our only long-term goal, which is competing for and being in the mix for our conference’s championship in the months of November and December, and that’s still all out there. We’ve left the margin of error very slim. That’s OK. But we know, I think I said Wednesday, we’re on the ropes, you can do one of two things: You can fight your way off the ropes or you can tell your trainer to throw in the towel. By all accounts, everybody’s pushing in the same direction, saying we want to fight our way off the ropes.”


Quick hits:

  • Can Herman guarantee there will be any trick plays against Kansas State? Didn’t say yes. Didn’t say no. But he did say UT goes into every game with “four or five of them” in case they’re needed.
  • Is team confidence a problem after the recent OU, Kansas and TCU results? Nah.
  • Off-week practices last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? “Awesome. Awesome.”
  • What’s up with the recent Sam Ehlinger interceptions? No big deal, Herman said, who added that in his opinion, Ehlinger made only one bad decision out of the four picks he threw at TCU. He’s fine, Herman said.
  • Remember Daniel Young? Why isn’t he playing? It’s a coaches’ decision, and there haven’t been any discussions about redshirting him.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. at DKR. It’ll be on ESPN. The Horns are favored by 5 1/2 points even though Kansas State is ranked 20th this week.

The last five Texas-KSU results:
2014: No. 11 K-State, 23-0 (Manhattan)
2015: Texas, 23-9 (Austin)
2016: K-State, 24-21 (Manhattan)
2017: Texas, 40-34 (2 OT, Austin)
2018: No. 18 Texas, 19-14 (Manhattan)

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