All these things

Patrick Vahe. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Patrick Vahe. (Will Gallagher/IT)

One of the highly sought current recruits reportedly stated that his impression of UT football has changed dramatically over the course of a single year. He was comparing the practices of coach Strong opposed to coach Herman’s. Herman demands intensity and constant attention to detail with competitive inspiration built into every drill all over the field. He mentioned coach Strong’s practices from last year were still and dead in his opinion.

I reflect back to my time in the sun and fondly remember coaching meetings where we argued which drills had the most carryover value in each position group. We tried to design every aspect of our practice to have a specific football purpose. While we certainly failed to keep every player engaged as well as the Herman staff appears to most observers, we did a decent job of convincing each player that as long as they hung with us they would improve daily.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that workouts that keep a brisk pace go a long way to keeping the entire squad entertained and engaged. Hot, sweaty, and dead-legged is not the opportune time to stall practice in order to correct mistakes yet thousands of long winded instructions have been delivered over the years on too many dusty practice fields in the state of Texas. Kinda like that last sentence!

I love the new atmosphere presented by the present staff. Every player stays ready to keep from getting ready or the dreaded else occurs—you know, the part where they forget your name and have zero intention of ever acknowledging you again. When the practice has inspired pace the time goes by so much faster and the learning curve is seldom a problem. Boiled down to simplicity, practice is fun again. Boring is out.

I guess most of us are full of anticipation again. Staff change does that. Not the kind of change from one offensive system to another or going from an even front to an odd but a true mindset change. It’s not the same voices instructing. New voices always brings new hope and desire. Every player starts off even—you have to earn your stripes again.

One thing I promise about kids that hasn’t changed thru the years is they can always spot a phony and/or fraud. If this staff has any shortcomings in the message they are teaching it has passed the smell test from the standpoint of the players approval. I know you hear the term “buying in” all too often but the fact of the matter is it’s extremely unusual to not hear any semblance of cautious muttering among the troops. Evidently, there’s not a single false step in this staff or their sincerity in the message.

This is a great sign things might be truthfully swinging back to the days of yesteryear. Recruiting on a nation wide scale is a positive sign that Herman intends to compete for the kind of talent that desires to play for all the marbles every year. Herman doesn’t worry about public perception when losing a recruiting battle—he regards it as merely running out of time and they are missing their chance. He takes his swings when in the batter’s box. That’s a winning attitude.

UT is thinking “big” again. We are fast displaying a competitive practice atmosphere to the recruiting nation. We are building a competitive locker room complete with all the necessary bells ands whistles. The football staff is recruiting at the same speed they demand of the players on the practice field, balls to the wall. This kind of effort kinda reminds me of one old war story back in the early 70’s back in Pasadena. One story won’t hurt much, will it?

We had a oll raw boned center that weighed about a buck eighty going against a nose that had SWC written all over him. We went into half 0 to 0 because we had a terrific defense and they had that nose going against “Jack” and we didn’t have a single first down on our dance card. Jack looked like hamburger meat at the half and held a tooth in his hand—just not a pretty sight for the faint of heart.

Our OL coach (DJ—some great stories to share when there’s time) asked Jack if we were ever going to get that nose blocked so we might move the football and maybe, just maybe, DJ might have a job next week. Jack had that far away look in his eyes as he seemed to contemplate his answer. Jack finally muttered “fourth quarter coach, late in the fourth quarter. I’m going to out-condition him.”