Here are most of the quotes from Tom Herman’s Texas Bowl arrival press conference.
On being back in Houston: No, not weird at all. It’s actually pretty fun. We’ve still got a lot of friends here in Houston, obviously. We considered Houston home for a couple of different stops, when we were at Rice and obviously at the University of Houston. It’s good to be back. This area has been good to us in recruiting as well. It will be neat to see and practice in the new indoor over at UH. I’m really excited. I hear it’s off the charts. We were obviously really proud of that. It will be a fun few days.
On suspensions: Really disappointed, but when you break rules there’s consequences. It stinks that they won’t be able to enjoy this experience with their teammates, but we all know the consequences of our actions before we do them. This is the price you pay.
On the tight end position: One tight end. We have one tight end and we have two tailbacks on scholarship. Two tailbacks that have played in the game for us this year. It will be interesting to see. We’ve had to practice a little package with two backs and no tight end. We had to practice our base offense, one back and one tight end. We’ve had to practice some with a tight end, and if one of those tailbacks gets hurt, now you’re playing the game in 10 personnel with four wide receivers, which is really difficult to run the football in that. We’ve got a few things that we feel good if we need to do it.
On the plan if Kendall Moore went down: We would go 10 or 20 personnel.
On playing in a bowl game with so many players missing: We’re going to have fun. We’re going to have a blast. We’ve gotten a lot better over the course of the last three weeks. We’ve still got some improving to do as we wind down the preparation, but this has been a blast. You think about it, for two years in this program they haven’t been able to practice in the month of December. Just to be able to practice and get that development under our belt – we’re going to try to win the game, make no mistake – I think the biggest takeaway from the bowl is just the development that we were able to achieve. Then the fun for having a good season, the fun and reward that comes with being in a bowl game.
On Malik Jefferson: He’s very doubtful at this point. Made the trip with us. He’s got around the clock treatment on that thing. It got worse in the Texas Tech game. Like I said, we sent him to a specialist in Green Bay, WI. We’ve been trying like crazy to get it back and he wants to get back, but right now it hurts him to walk, let alone run and jump and cut.
On Elijah Rodriguez: He’ll probably start at left tackle for us.
On Anthony Cook, Mikey Grandy, and Ayodele Adeoye: Huge. This DB class is one for the ages. Obviously, we’ve got to develop them and they’ve got to perform but we’ve certainly given ourselves a chance in the back end there. Mikey, he’s got to play right away. I was looking out there though the other day, and I was encouraged. When you have Elijah at left tackle, and Patrick (Vahe) at left guard, and (Zach) Shackelford at center, and Derek Kerstetter at right tackle, those are four guys that will all be back for us next year for that offensive line. They’ll be bigger and stronger and more comfortable. We need depth in a big way. We lose Jake McMillon, and hopefully Mikey can plug in there at some point. Tope Imade has had a really good bowl prep. Denzel (Okafor) has played a ton of football for us and he’ll be a year older. JP Urquidez is 288 pounds now, which is hard for him to be, but he needs to be, and he continues to try and put that weight on. I think the future is bright, especially knowing we’ve got Mikey. We’ll still be in the market for a grad transfer, maybe a May-out junior college offensive lineman. Dele, he’s the best high school middle linebacker I’ve seen in a long, long time. His relationship with Todd Orlando is off the charts. It was the reason that we survived really powerful, late-in recruiting pushes. Other schools out there sent in articles that were written as fact about some things that go on on our team. Those coaches then jump all over that and run with it and put it in front of different recruits and say “look, this is fact. It’s on the internet. It must be fact.” Really took that relationship that Todd has with Dele to combat that. We were fortunate that we did because of all the true freshmen, he’s so physically ready already, just from a physical maturity and strength standpoint, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in that lineup pretty quickly.
On quarterback and if Shane Buechele would go out with the first team: Yeah. I feel pretty certain that he will on Wednesday, too.
On Missouri: They had a lot more momentum going into those few weeks of practice than we did, obviously winning six straight games and their quarterback finishing the season as the number one touchdown passer in the country. Their defensive front is about as good as we’ll play this year. They play really hard, they’re quick, they move a lot in terms of slants and angles and twists. We will have our work cut out for us.
On wide receivers and if WRs like Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps can take advantage of an opportunity: I would hope so. We need them to. They haven’t been as impactful here these last few games for whatever reason. I’m not blaming them. It just hasn’t worked out that way. Hopefully we can get those guys on track a little bit, get them open, make plays, running a little bit with the football. I would love for that to happen.
On the receivers’ mindset: They just want to win. If it’s ‘hey, let’s go out and prove something to somebody.’ We figured that part out. We’re not in the business of proving anything to anybody except for the people in that locker room. Those are the only people that our team cares about what they think of them, but I do think they have seen games and situations where they have helped us play really, really well. I think they’re eager and competitive to make this game one of those games.
On tonight and the weekend’s schedule: We could have come in tomorrow, and I wanted to make sure we came in tonight. We practiced yesterday morning. That way, it was important for me and for the kids, especially from Houston, to get home in the afternoon on Thursday and spend the morning with their families. We only took two busses here. A lot of guys drove themselves. We will have dinner at six, a team meeting with HPD there to give them the do’s and don’t’s of the city of Houston and the bowl game. Then they’re off. I want them to have a good time. I want them to really, really enjoy this, but tomorrow is like a Tuesday practice. We had a lot of preparation for Missouri last week. We’re not going to be on the field very long these next three days, but we’ve still got work to do. Tomorrow we’ll practice. As coaches, we’ll grade the film after practice, get over here and script for Sunday’s practice, then I think we have the rodeo tomorrow, late afternoon or evening. Starting tomorrow, there will be a pretty significant curfew, but tonight we’ve got a 1 a.m. curfew and we want our guys to go have fun.
On if Buechele earned the job or if Ehlinger’s turnovers were why he went with Shane: Both. I’ve had some really good but hard, at times, conversations with Sam in terms of turning the ball over. I think when he’s good, when he’s on like he was against Oklahoma or Kansas State, it is really, really fun to watch him play. But he’s got to be more consistent in terms of protecting the football in critical situations. He’s going to play, but I just felt like with the way that game ended when we’ve got a guy in Shane that hasn’t really done anything to lose his status on the team. They both had a really, really good couple weeks of practice and I’m excited to watch them both play