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Tom Herman had plenty to talk about on Wednesday. He touched on his successful recruiting so far and his plans going forward, how special teams works in his program, and what running backs need to do over the rest of camp. He also provided updates on several key Longhorns nursing injuries.
Opening statement: “Pretty good one today. Yesterday was really, really physical and we had to push through. Yesterday being practice eight coming off of a scrimmage on Saturday, really good practice on Monday. Yesterday there was some teeth pulling going on to get them going. We called them up about halfway through practice and told them that if they give us everything they’ve got the rest of practice, we’ll take some of the gear off of them today. They did that. They responded and they were rewarded. We were in shorts and shoulder pads today. Very limited contact today but we got a lot of good work in. Walk on linebacker Russel Hine, non-contact, tweaked his knee. He’ll be evaluated. Elijah Rodriguez, as you know from yesterday, high ankle sprain. He’s seeing a foot specialist today to kind of determine the best plan for treatment on that.”
On Kyle Porter: “He was non-contact today, full pads. Just a shoulder, kind of, wobble a little bit that we think with some treatment, exercise and staying out of contact for a couple days to kind of get that back to normal.”
On if he knows how long Rodriguez will be out: “Not yet. I’ll know a lot more probably when he sees the actual foot specialist.”
On Malcolm Roach: “Malcolm has a toe sprain, turf toe, whatever you want to call it. It’s a first degree, so no loss in stability, no tear or anything as of yet. Just kind of a pain tolerance thing right now because he did stretch those ligaments in that big toe pretty good. He’ll be in a boot for a couple of days. Hoping, what’s today, Wednesday? I would think at the latest Monday.”
On schedule the rest of camp: “We’ll go six days a week. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will be our heavy contact days. Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be our limited to no contact days. Sunday will be our day off. We’ll wash, rinse and repeat.”
On his plans to give the team a break from camp: “I would think there will probably be something, whether it be a night off like ‘hey, go home. We’re not going to meet tonight.’ Maybe take them somewhere in the afternoon, but we’re not ever going to miss a practice during training camp. We’ll have practices. If anything, if they perform to our expectations and merit maybe an afternoon off or an afternoon somewhere fun, we’ll think about that. We’ll never sacrifice a day of preparation.”
On what appeals to Herman about Josh Rowland: “I like him more than other kickers I’ve been around because he’s halfway normal, and I think he’s got a bit of a toughness to him. We ended today’s practice with a two minute drill needing a field goal to win. Then, we simulated bobbling a snap with still a timeout left. The holder fell on the ball. Called timeout, so then we had to back it up and try it again. Then we iced him. Then we brought the whole team out and formed a tunnel of noise and this, that and the other and he nailed the thing right through the uprights.”
On the distance of that kick: “Low 40s I think, something like that. Keep making kicks under those kind of circumstances, you’re going to stay in fairly good graces.”
On what he thinks when he hears the team had five kicks blocked last year: “Unacceptable I think is probably the best. That’s a difficult team to be on because when you get real dudes in the middle there, that becomes a war inside for about a second and a half. I think we’ve helped ourselves by bringing in the fifth-year transfer short snapper that’s got a little bit more girth on him to protect the A-gaps.”
On if that many blocked kicks unfathomable to Herman: “A lot of disasters are unfathomable to me until they happen. Then they become fathomable. One blocked kick on the year, whether it be a PAT, field goal or punt is too many, and the stats back that up. You block a punt, your chances of winning that football game increase substantially just from that one statistic.”
On having starters on special teams: “I saw that. It’s not necessarily true. I know skill position guys on offense will not be allowed to touch the football unless they’re starting on one special team. I believe our starting punt team is made up of all starters as of now. Then, most of the rest of the special teams will be starters or key backups. That’s a third of the game. We have always had the philosophy, even going back to my days at Sam Houston State when I was the special teams coordinator, that if you’re an offensive or defensive player and you need a breather, you need a play off, it’s going to happen on offense and defense. It’s not going to happen on special teams because I think special teams miscues are much more disastrous than an offensive or defensive miscue. We’re going to put our most trustworthy guys on those teams.”
On if he had many kicks blocked in Houston: “I think we had a punt tipped, but it still crossed the line of scrimmage against Temple in the championship game. I know field goals, our first year, we only attempted nine. We changed kickers. I think three? We don’t attempt very many field goals, but he attempted nine and was nine-for-nine. Once we made that change, certainly none that year. Then, I don’t think we had any last year.”
On if they blocked any at Houston: “A big one against Louisville our first year in the second game. They lined up for a game-tying field goal. Then we got our hands on it. The way that punt schemes are now-a-days, it’s really, really hard to block a punt. I think we got our hand on the one at Memphis… We got our hands on one, or two, or three in our two years. Something like that.
On if he has kick blockers at Texas: I don’t know yet. I’ve got to pay closer attention to that.”
On when he’d like to see a RB emerge: “I don’t know that they will in this group, and that’s okay. You’d like it to be, but production comes in all shapes and sizes and all different kinds of forms and rotations. Would you like a guy to really, really separate himself? Yeah, but if they don’t but they’re all playing at an above-average to winnable level, then I think that’s a good thing. I don’t have a timetable on that. Again, like I said, I view running backs very, very similarly to defensive line. We’re going to have two or three that are probably going to play quite a bit during the course of the game.”
On how he picks guys to play special teams: “There’s no ‘want-to’ in our program. Early in training camp, we’ll be three or four deep. We’ve kind of had meetings as a staff prior to training camp like ‘hey, this is what this position needs from a body-type standpoint; speed, size, strength, length, all of that stuff. Then okay, this guy would be good. This guy, this guy, this guy.’ First week or so of practice, you try those guys out in drills and see how they do. As you get closer to game time, you whittle that number down so that eventually by game week the ones and twos are getting reps.”
On what he’s selling and why he’s had an immediate recruiting impact: “I think you sell the people. You sell our staff. You sell our strength coach. You sell our academic staff. You sell our nutritionist and our assistant coaches. The truth is easy to sell, and your current players do as good a job recruiting and truth telling as anybody. When your current players tell these recruits ‘man, this guy, my position coach, he is phenomenal. He loves me. He cares about me. He takes care of me. The strength coach, man, in seven months I put 70 pounds on my squat max. This guy is really, really training us to maximize our genetic potential.’ I think that goes a long, long way. You sell the people and you sell, obviously, the academics here are about as good as it gets for a public institution. You sell the city of Austin. You sell the tradition, although tradition for these guys is Vince Young, it’s not Earl Campbell and Tommy Nobis. It doesn’t go back very far. I think tradition can only get you so far. You’ve got to sell the people, the academics, the city and then you sell the track record, too. You sell the testimony of what we’ve done as a staff in the last place that we were at.”
On why his sell is succeeding: “I don’t know. If I knew that, I’d bottle it up and sell it and work a lot less hours. I really do think if there’s one thing I’ve done right as a head football coach, it’s hire great people. Not just hired guns that are great recruiters and not an X and O lab guy that doesn’t care about people. We’ve hired the best of both worlds at every position. Everywhere from Kevin Washington, our player development guy, to Fernando Lovo and Tori Teykl in our operations staff, to obviously Yancy McKnight and his crew, Brett Wohlers and the academic staff, we’ve been able to get that part right. Everybody’s going to say recruiting is about relationships, and it is. I think the relationships have to be real, they’ve got to be genuine, and they’ve got to be substantive in order for that sell to take hook.
On if there’s a Twitter mandate for coaches on commits: “I don’t think it’s a mandate anymore. I think the guys just have fun with it.”
On if he wants to complete the recruiting class by Maryland: “No, we won’t be. We’re going to wait on some guys certainly that are worth waiting on. We’ll take that on a case-by-case basis. If you’ve got a plan A and plan B wants to say yes and you’re not really confident in your chances with plan A, there’s a cost-benefit ratio to examine at that point. There’s still a few plan As out there that we’re willing to wait.”
On if he wants to be ‘done’ at Christmas: “I think that’s realistic. There might be one or two guys that want to do the hat dance in February or the Under Armour All-American or the Army All-American game thing. Especially with the new signing day. We’re going to learn a lot from whether they sign or not.”
On his history with Tim Beck and why he’s the right guy for the offense: “Not a ton, far back. When he was at Nebraska, we used to cross paths recruiting a little bit. We would sit down and talk ball over dinner when we were out on the road spring recruiting, would share offensive ideas. I certainly liked watching his offenses when he was at Nebraska. He was one of the guys I considered at Houston before Coach Meyer hired him at Ohio State. Like I said, when I call JT Barrett and Cardale Jones and they say this guy is the real deal, that carries a lot of weight with me. Coach Meyer had a lot of great things to say about him as well. Very unique, much like Major (Applewhite) was, we need a guy that can bring some ideas to the table, but a guy that can manage the room, a guy that’s got experience, a guy that can coach the quarterbacks and a guy that can recruit. Because of mine and our experience on that side of the ball, I think that part of it is more important. It’s not ‘hey we’re going to come in and we’re going to run Tim Beck’s offense.’ It’s ‘hey, we’re going to run our offense with some ideas and creativity from Tim and the rest of the offensive staff.’ Phenomenal guy. The kids love him. He’s a great teacher. We work really well together.”
On how Tope Imade is handling the move to DL: “You know what? Really good. He got a lot of reps on Saturday. That is a big, good-looking dude that’s got some intelligence about him, got some twitch to him. I even wrote down on my notes today, just watching him run around, I think I wrote down something like ‘we’ve got to find a way to make Tope a player.’ We’re going to talk about that in our staff meeting. Whether that happens this year – I mean he’s a redshirt freshman that played offensive line for an entire year and some change. Happy with that move at this point. Now, he’s got to do the things that we’re tasking him to do in order to develop as a defensive lineman. I think the potential’s there.”