COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW: #20 TEXAS LONGHORNS FOOTBALL CAPSULE
HEAD COACH: Tom Herman (Second Season)
RECORD AT TEXAS: 7 – 6
CAREER RECORD: 29 – 10
2017 RECORD: 7 – 6, 5 – 4 Big 12
OFFENSIVE COORDINATORS: Tim Beck, Herb Hand
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Todd Orlando
STADIUM: Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119)
FIVE – YEAR WINNING TREND
2013: 8 – 5
2014: 6 – 7
2015: 5 – 7
2016: 5 – 7
2017: 7 – 6
September 1 Maryland at Landover
September 8 Tulsa
September 15 USC
September 22 TCU
September 29 at Kansas State
October 6 Oklahoma at Dallas
October 13 Baylor
October 27 at Oklahoma State
November 3 West Virginia
November 10 at Texas Tech
November 17 Iowa State
November 23 at Kansas
Maryland 41 – 51
San Jose State 56 – 0
USC 24 – 27 OT
Iowa State 17 – 7
Kansas State 40 – 34 OT
Oklahoma 24 – 29
Oklahoma State 10 – 13 OT
Baylor 38 – 7
TCU 7 – 24
Kansas 42 – 27
West Virginia 28 – 14
Texas Tech 23 – 27
Missouri 33 – 16
2017 STATS – OFFENSE
2017 STATS – DEFENSE
RETURNING STARTERS OFFENSE: 6
WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey
WR Collin Johnson
LG Patrick Vahe
C Zach Shackelford
RT Derek Kerstetter
QB Shane Buechele
RETURNING STARTERS DEFENSE: 6
DE Charles Omenihu
DT Chris Nelson
LB Anthony Wheeler
CB Kris Boyd
SS P.J. Locke
FS Brandon Jones
2018 UNIT CONFERENCE RANKINGS
PRE—SEASON BIG 12 SELECTIONS
DL Breckyn Hager (First Team)
CB Kris Boyd (First Team)
LB Gary Johnson (Second Team)
WR Colin Johnson (Third Team)
C Zach Shackelford (Third Team)
OL Calvin Anderson (Third Team)
DL Charles Omennihu (Third Team)
2017 CONFERENCE STANDINGS
Oklahoma 8 – 1
TCU 7 – 2
Oklahoma State 6 – 3
Texas 5 – 4
West Virginia 5 – 4
Kansas State 5 – 4
Iowa State 5 – 4
Texas Tech 3 – 6
Baylor 1 – 8
Kansas 0 – 9
TOP RETURNING LEADERS
PASSING: Sam Ehlinger, 158 – 275 –1,915 – 11TD – 7INT
RUSHING: Sam Ehlinger, 114 – 385 – 2TD
RECEIVING: Collin Johnson, 54 – 765 – 2TD
TACKLES: Brandon Jones, 61
SACKS: Breckyn Hager, Charles Omenihu, 4.0
INTERCEPTIONS: Kris Boyd, Davante Davis, 2
2018 TOP RECRUITS
S Caden Sterns, Cibolo, Texas
S BJ Foster, Angleton, Texas
CB Jalen Green, Houston, Texas
S DeMarvion Overshown, Arp, Texas
WR Brennan Eagles, Houston, Texas
CB Anthony Cook, Houston Texas
WR Joshua Moore, Yocum, Texas
WR Al’Vonte Woodard, Houston, Texas
CB D’Shawn Jamison, Houston, Texas
LB Ayodele Adeoye, St. Louis, Missouri
2018 PROJECTED RECORD: 9 – 4, 6 – 3 Big 12
2018 BOWL PROJECTION: Alamo Bowl
2018 PRE—SEASON CONFERENCE PREDICTION
- West Virginia
- Oklahoma State
- Iowa State
- Kansas State
- Texas Tech
2018 CONFERENCE RECRUITING RANKING
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Iowa State
- Kansas State
- Texas Tech
The Longhorns improved from a five win season to a seven win season in Tom Herman’s first year. Getting to a bowl game was a good first step for this program as Herman established a new culture and added elite talent in his most recent recruiting class. If Texas plans on challenging Oklahoma in the Big 12, the Longhorns must show improvement on offense and continue to play at a high level on defense.
COACH HERMAN TALKS DURING MEDIA DAY
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined at the podium by Texas Longhorn coach, Tom Herman. Coach, welcome and your thoughts about the upcoming season?
TOM HERMAN: Quick opening remarks and then I will open it up for questions. It’s certainly great to be back in the Metroplex. I do want to thank the Big 12 and Commissioner Bowlsby for putting on another great event. I also do need to thank our fantastic President, Greg Fenves as well as our new athletic director and a dear friend of mine, Chris Del Conte. I firmly believe that coaches and players win games, and administrations win championships. I believe that in Greg Fenves and Chris Del Conte and their teams and staffs that we do have a championship administration. It’s been a fantastic year since the last time we were here.
We’ve had our first winning season in four years. We had our first bowl victory since 2012. We retained all of our staff including, in my opinion, the best defensive coordinator in college football, Todd Orlando, as well as the best strength coach in college football, Yancy McKnight, as well as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country, Herb Hand. We signed a top-5 recruiting class not just of recruiting players but of fantastic young men that are our kind of players that fit our culture as well as some tremendous families.
I do want to thank the coaches that helped us and guided them along the way as well as all of the other people that were influential in that process. With the leadership of Greg Fenves and athletic director, Chris Del Conte, we’ve begun plans to build for our student-athletes, for our student body, for our fans one of the finest facilities in the country. And we have had very little attrition on our roster this off-season. We had a tremendous amount of growth last season, although our record was not up to the championship expectations that we have at the University of Texas. I think that anybody that has watched us play, anybody that’s been around our program understands that we’re playing harder, we’re playing more physical, we’re playing more cohesive than our program has in quite some time.
Our theme this off-season has been two words: develop and finish, and develop is twofold. One, we want to develop positively better athletes in terms of getting bigger and stronger and faster. We want to develop as football players in terms of understanding the game and the techniques and the situations that arise in the game. And we want to develop as coaches. A couple of numbers that I want to throw out there for you, this is, again, we still have about two weeks left of summer conditioning, but throughout the spring testing, and then when our newcomers came in, we tested them. We have 60 members of our football team right now that can vertical jump over 30 inches, we have 42 players on our football team that can power clean over 300 pounds from the floor. We have 34 guys that can squat over 500 pounds. We have three guys that actually can squat over 600 pounds.
We’ve also worked extremely hard in developing relationships, and I believe, and I know that our players that are here today and our players back home in Austin believe that we are as close of a team as Texas has been in a long time. That’s not just player-to-player, but coach-to-player as well.
Finish. We have been training our guys how to finish. Every drill that we do, every workout that we have, everything that we do has a finish component to it. Meaning we require our guys to be at their very best when the game is on the line and I think our guys have really taken to that. They’ve embraced it and they’re excited about this season.
Lastly, I’m really excited to share with you our Forever Texas program which is a life-after-football program which is unique to the University of Texas more so than anywhere in the country. We culminated our spring semester with a career fair that was for our football players only which led to a bunch of our graduating seniors getting job offers. We had a bunch of guys that had internships throughout the city of Austin, throughout the state of Texas as well as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and beyond and we had multiple mission trips to countries abroad where we served other countries and helped them out and I’m really proud of that.
I just want to let you know that we are really excited about this season. Our culture is firmly ingrained, our guys are in as good a shape as I’ve every seen them. They’re hungry to compete in the Big 12 which has done a fantastic job. This is a conference from top-to-bottom has as much parity as anywhere in the country and we are one of the few teams to play 11 power 5 opponents this year, so we understand the task at hand and we understand the challenging schedule especially within our conference. But we also understand we have a team full of guys that are prepared to take it head on.
For those of you in the media, certainly do appreciate the job that you do in championing college football, and the support that you give to these young men and the platform that you give them to play this great game and report on it and get the facts straight. I do applaud you and thank you for being here. Questions?
Q. Have you had to make any significant changes after having a punter like Dickson leave who could win games and has won games for you?
TOM HERMAN: Only to sign his cousin, from Australia. No, we haven’t had any significant changes. We will see how the punter does when the bullets are flying, there is 100,000 people in the stands, but had a great spring. Our scheme won’t change and I don’t see any philosophical changes at all.
Q. Coach, you said that you were going to evaluate Tim Beck as a play caller and decide if you would be calling plays this season or if he would be. What kind of evaluation did you do? Will Tim Beck be calling plays to start the season and if he does low long or short will his leash be?
TOM HERMAN: The good thing is we don’t have to make that decision now in the middle of July. We’re going to do whatever is best for the University of Texas and for our offense. Again, I have always been very intimately involved in the play calling on game day. There isn’t a play that’s called that I don’t have veto power of, and so, you know, I think the true measure of an offense and its efficiency is one, the talent that he is on the field, certainly. Again, there were multiple games where we started five true freshmen, a true sophomore, and there is an element to that that you’re probably not going to light the world on fire on offense.
The best thing about true freshmen is they become sophomores and they develop and they learn how to finish. The way that we handle play calling is very collaborative. What we do throughout the week is much more important than the three hours on Saturday in terms of game planning, in terms of installation of the game plan, in terms of the knowledge and retention of our players of that game plan. So no decision has been made nor do I feel any sense of urgency to have to do that.
Q. Tom, you talked about instituting the job fair for players after the season. That’s cool. What about players having the right to market their name likeness and image during their college career? What are your thoughts on that?
TOM HERMAN: Well, my thoughts are I think that within the current model that we have, we should do anything and everything we can for our student-athletes. I think you see that push. These last five, six years has been tremendous from the cost-of-living allowance to the new redshirt rule that just passed that allows players four more extra games to play from the new transfer rule. So we’re doing a lot of things for student-athlete welfare. The time demands have gone way down. We have eliminated two-a-day practices. We have shortened the length of training camps. So there is a number of things we’re doing within the current model that we can. As long as anything can fit within the current model of college football that benefits the student-athlete, I’m all for it. Now, I’m not privy or intelligent enough or have the knowledge to know the ins and outs of whether that can or can’t be done, but if it benefits the student-athlete and fits in the college football model, I’m all for it.
Q. You have a really young quarterback room, Sam Ehlinger, Cameron Rising, Casey Thompson. Can you talk about the guys and the differences that they bring to the table and what you’re looking for in them come this season?
TOM HERMAN: I feel like the two older guys in Buechele and Ehlinger really improved like we asked them to. With Sam, it was tightening his release up a little bit. He had gotten into bad habits, broke his wrist his senior year in high school and never felt healed, totally. He worked his tail off and he made some throws this spring that I hadn’t seen him make in the year that we have been around him. For Shane, it was to take charge of the offense, to be a vocal leader and to not just be a passive participant in each play but to be the, as I tell him, you’re not the third string violinist, you are a conductor of the orchestra and he really improved in that area and I’m telling you, those two young quarterbacks, those two freshmen are going to give those guys a run for their money as well. They came in, they should have been seniors in high school and they came in, they did not look out of place. I think when you sign two quarterbacks and one is deemed a “pro style” guy and the other one is deemed a “dual threat” guy you think one can’t run and the other can’t throw and that’s far from the truth.
Cameron Rising can throw a lot better and move around better than people think and to be honest with you, Casey Thompson can throw the ball quite a bit better than people think.
I tell you what, it beats having a quarterback room with two scholarship players going through the entire season and for much of the season one of those being injured and out of the game. So really one scholarship quarterback the entire season. To have that depth in that room and the depth be as young as it is, just really excited about where that room is headed.
Q. Oklahoma had four All-Americans last year and came within an overtime of getting to the championship game. You had one All-American, a punter who is gone. How many elite players that you feel dying you have on this roster that can be difference makers and win championships?
TOM HERMAN: Some. I mean, I don’t know. You kind of put me on the spot there, I haven’t tallied up difference makers and championship level guys and I don’t know that it’s fair for me to give an assessment with the limited time that you have to think about that question, but I do think there are guys both sides of the ball, probably more if I’m being honest, on defense than on offense right now. But we’ve also, again, signed a top-5 recruiting class, too, so I have yet to see those guys play a snap of college football or even practice in college football. I do think we have some and I think every coach that sits up here would tell you not enough. The ones that are playing for and winning national championships too. I do think we’re getting closer and closer to those elite programs in terms of the necessary elite championship caliber talent.
Q. This might be too simplistic but it feels like this season comes down to whether you guys can run the ball and whether you can stop it. What’s your feelings on the running backs? Now going into August, how do you make up for Poona Ford’s departure?
TOM HERMAN: I don’t know that you do, by committee is the best way to put it. I’ve been around three truly great nose tackles in my life, Casey Hampton being one, and Oliver being two and Poona Ford being three. He is that elite. He is that disruptive or was that disruptive, I should say, I wish we had him and could refer to him in the present tense, but if we can get close to that kind of production, if we can make up for it with the veterans that we have at end, with Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu as well as Chris Nelson is here today representing us. I think he’s going to slide down and play the nose guard position, and he’s a guy that’s got a lot of snaps under his belt and has really helped our program. But, you know, I’ve been around Todd Orlando for a long time and knock on wood, stopping the run has never been an issue, regardless of personnel.
On offense, I think it’s hard, regardless of who is playing running back to run the football if you’ve got such a mash unit of inexperience and injuries at offensive line. We finished the spring with eight scholarship offensive linemen, that’s not enough. We will get a couple back from injury as well as the addition of Calvin Anderson, the grad transfer from Rice and hopefully he helps out a lot and we’ve added two running backs to that room in terms of Keaontay Ingram and Tre Watson, and then we’ve developed those veterans, Danny Young and Toneil Carter, they’re not freshmen anymore and Kyle Porter and hopefully we get Kirk Johnson back healthy for the first time in his career and Tristian Houston and the list goes on. That’s a very deep room. It’s just has not been a room that has had a ton of talent separating itself, but we have spent countless hours developing them and I think the addition of Herb Hand with our offensive line and the improvement they made this spring, especially the starting five should pay dividends. But you’re right, we’re not going to be as good as we hope to be if we can’t run the ball.