Tom Herman’s final regular-season game-week press conference is in the books.
Not a lot to be feeling thankful for this week. Texas started its season 4-1 but has looked off ever since the Red River Showdown in mid-October: A loss to Oklahoma, a squeak win at home over Kansas, a multi-interception loss at TCU, a squeak win at home over Kansas State, a squeak loss at Iowa State and a sluggish loss at Baylor. The Longhorns have gone from preseason picks to contend for the Big 12 championship to limping down the home stretch heading into Friday’s finale against Texas Tech.
Herman was asked at the end about what he is thankful for. This being Thanksgiving week, it’s worth hearing his answer.
“I am extremely thankful for the health of my family, my wife and three kids. I’m thankful for this team and for their fortitude. I’m thankful, and I think I said it post-game, the game was, for all intents and purposes, over and to play as hard as our defense did on fourth down to get that stop, and then to jog our starters out there with 43 seconds left and still want to go score, that told me a lot about this team and to be thankful for, for that fortitude and grittiness. And I’m thankful for people in my life that are honest with me and love me, family and friends that are there for me.”
What you need to know:
1. Texas’ best bowl prospects are looking like the Texas Bowl or the Liberty Bowl.
2. Wide receiver Collin Johnson will probably miss the Texas Tech game, but should be able to play the bowl game.
3. Running back Keaontay Ingram (ankle), who missed the second half of the Baylor game, “is improving.”
4. Safety DeMarvion Overshown (ankle sprain) will hopefully play.
5. Linebacker Juwan Mitchell aggravated a hamstring during pre-game warmups in Waco. Herman didn’t give him a game status for this week.
6. Tight end Cade Brewer will miss Friday’s game, but Herman said they’re hoping to get him back for the bowl game.
7. Cornerback Jalen Green (ankle sprain) is questionable for Friday; fellow cornerback Anthony Cook will miss the game.
8. Left tackle Samuel Cosmi is practicing, but will be limited with a sprained ankle. He’ll probably be good to go on Friday.
9. Slot receiver Devin Duvernay had a knee bruise that he’s dealing with. Same as Cosmi: Limited in practice but should be OK.
10. Wondering what’s up with Jordan Whittington? Herman said the freshman had a new MRI on his hip/pelvis area. Those results have been sent to his doctor in Philadelphia. “The last time we did it, obviously he said everything looked great and cleared him to play, but J-Whitt’s been in a lot of pain, so we’ve got to figure out what’s going on with him.”
The best questions Tom Herman got today
So, what’s up with the offense?
Our own Brian Davis wanted to know how Sunday’s staff meeting went with Herman and his coaches, and what is going wrong recently with the offense.
“In the staff meeting, I did say these kids are good kids and they’re going to want answers,” Herman said. “In my opinion, when you play such a unique defense back-to-back weeks, there is a fine line of saying hey, some of our base stuff is not going to be good. We can’t do X, Y and Z because they’re going to be in position A, B and C. And so OK, then we need to do D, E and F. There’s got to be some of that. There has to be, or you’re not going to move the ball. … We thought the (Baylor) plan was great.”
Are those No. 3 recruiting classes cutting it?
Davis also asked whether he feels Texas “should be squeezing more” from back-to-back recruiting classes that ranked third nationally in 2018 and 2019.
“Yes,” Herman answered.
OK. “It’s a fine line to walk,” Davis followed up. “The coaches are responsible for it, but the players have to be responsible, too.”
“So how do you manage that?”
Herman: “You evaluate. And again, we’ve got a saying around here and I learned it from coach Meyer and it stuck with me and made a lot of sense. I’ve been on staffs where position coaches aren’t getting the response from a player that they want, and they say ‘Oh, that freakin’ kid, that kid, that kid, that kid.’ No. ‘That coach.’ You’re the adult. You’re the one that does this for a living, so we’re never going to blame the players. It’s our job. We recruited them and their personalities, so it’s our job to find the right buttons to push, if you will.
“If you’re giving them these tools, then the young man is not using those tools, then it’s still your job to educate them on why it’s important to use those tools. There is a definite fine line to leading a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Either duck his head in the water or lead him to a different trough or figure something else out. We’ve got to figure out this offseason where we’ve failed in that area, and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
… and is Herman the right coach for this rebuilding project?
Kirk Bohls asked a two-parter: At 6-5, how shaken are you — and why are you still the right man for this job?
“I’m not shaken,” Herman answered. “Obviously (I’m) in big-time evaluation mode of everything throughout our program. I’m not gonna bury my head in the sand. It’s my job to make sure that we play to the level that is expected at the University of Texas?
“And am I the right man to do it? I believe I am, yeah. I mean, you’re asking me. Did you expect me to say no, I’m not and then just walk off and drop the mic or something?”
Kirk: “You’ve never gone through anything quite like this in your career, have you?”
Herman: “Uh, the first year here? That was pretty tough. That was pretty tough.”
- Herman’s message to the team this week: We haven’t coached or played to our standard, but none of that matters this week. Win this one for the seniors. “There’s no one in that locker room that shouldn’t feel a debt of gratitude toward them.”
- Does Herman regret those pre-game headbutts with a helmeted Malcolm Roach? Nope. “If the nation had been paying attention, they would’ve realized I did that my three years at Ohio State, two games every game at Houston.”
- On the schedule and short week: The Horns didn’t practice on Sunday. Coaches began game-planning a day earlier. Tuesday will look and feel like a normal Wednesday practice, and then Wednesday will be treated like a normal Thursday. Players will be released to go home Wednesday evening and will be expected back at practice late Thursday morning, which means their Thanksgiving meals will be eaten Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The team also will be invited to take part in a team holiday meal Wednesday night at the team hotel.
Friday’s game kicks off at 11 a.m. It’ll be aired on Fox. It’s also senior day for Texas, which will honor the outgoing seniors like Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay and Brandon Jones and Malcolm Roach before kickoff.
The last five Texas-Texas Tech games. Four of them have been one-possession games:
2014: Texas, 34-13 (Lubbock)
2015: Texas Tech, 48-45 (Austin)
2016: Texas, 45-37 (Lubbock)
2017: Texas Tech, 27-23 (Austin)
2018: No. 15 Texas, 41-34 (Lubbock)
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