Tom Herman had his final media availability until the Orange and White Spring Game this Saturday and spoke about depth at RB, QB, and checking hydration levels.
Opening statement: Couple injuries of note from the [scrimmage]. Kyle Porter, slight ankle sprain but, being cautious with him, probably not going to participate in Thursday or the spring game, which is ok. He’s still got a lot of work to do, but the guy has given us everything he’s got for 12 practices. Impressed by his effort and durability. Andrew Beck reinjured his foot. Not quite sure yet in terms of the severity of it. We’re going to send him to a foot specialist on Thursday and we should know more then. Davante Davis came down on his shoulder. Very minor first degree, I believe, separation of the shoulder. Non-surgical is going to be his thing for a couple weeks, but he won’t participate either. Other than that, everybody should be good. We had a good day today.
My take: We’ve all heard how physical the practices are and I’ve gotten to see that first hand. Herman, RBs coach Stan Drayton, and offensive coordinator Tim Beck have seen Porter take advantage of the opportunity afforded to him this spring with Warren being injured. They like what they see, and since Porter’s been playing with the ones he’s received a good amount of contact in Herman’s physical practices. Why play him when you know what you’ve got? Keep him healthy, and give Houston and Carter the chance for some snaps.
On RBs: With Toneil and Tristian, you hope, one, they can protect the ball. I don’t know that there’s been a full practice that those guys have gone through where the ball hasn’t been on the ground by one, if not both of them. They’re never going to play for us in a game if they can’t protect the football. I thought it was great. We had Jerome Bettis come talk to our team last year. He specifically talked to the running backs and he said ‘a running back’s job description is to protect the football and protect the quarterback. Anything after that is gravy.’ That’s the philosophy that we take, too. If you can’t protect the football, you’re not going to see the field. If they can protect the football, get their assignments right, run hard with good pad level, I think that’s a success considering one is really young and the other one is really, really young and should be a senior in high school.
My take: The two spring game starters, Tristian Houston and Toneil Carter, will have a lot of chances to prove what they can do to the fans and to the coaches. This is their chance to show, like Porter, what they can do when they have an opportunity.
On what he wants for people to see at the Orange-White Spring Game: Like most spring games that are televised, we’ll be very vanilla. We don’t want to give a whole lot away especially being a new staff. One of the positives of being a new staff is that you have that a little bit of an edge going into the first game, so it’ll be a little bit vanilla. But you should still be able to see a defense that flies to the football, 11 hats to the football and is getting takeaways. You should see an offense that is hopefully, at least with the ones, very limited with penalties and has the ability to sustain drives but also makes plays.
My take: For me, this game will be the final goodbye to the veer and shoot from last year. It’ll be good to see some different routes from the wide receivers.
On what he wants players to get out of the spring game: Concentration and focus to eliminate distractions and not worry about who’s in the crowd or what the score is cause of the different scoring system that we’ll have and all that, just worry about doing their job each and every play and being able to be 1-0 on every snap with those things happening around them.
My take: Just because the offensive and defensive play calls are vanilla doesn’t mean the play has to be. Herman expects tough physical play with a swarming defense whether the team is in base or if they’re blitzing. He wants to see how the team reacts in the thick of battle.
On the quarterbacks: My philosophy in a spring game, especially with walk ons that have been here a while and guys that have been here a while, you want to get them in the game for a few snaps so mom and dad can take pictures and we can get some action photos, and they can feel good about their hard work here. For the most part, the quarterback position, you’ll see those two guys with probably Covey being the only one that gets a few reps here and there.
My take: Shane and Sam will get most of the reps because they need them more than whoever the third quarterback is right now.
On last Saturday’s scrimmage: Much more physical that the Saturday before, we laid an egg with that department both offensively and defensively the Saturday before. So it was much more physical, and especially with the ones. The one offense and especially the one offensive line at least, you could have a semblance of a drive and they weren’t missing assignments and getting blown by and having a bunch of tackles in the backfield. Probably the thing that sticks out to me on both sides of the ball is that our twos on both sides of the ball have got to get better, we’ve got to create more depth. There’s only a handful of guys. You’d like to be able to have a true two-deep everywhere but the offensive line realistically. As we’ve talked about before, you go into a season trusting about seven, maybe eight, total offensive linemen. Beyond that, you’d like to have a true two-deep at every position. We’re not quite there yet.
My take: Last season, we heard something along the lines of ‘we finally have a two deep along the offensive line.’ This season, we hear something strikingly different from that. Aside from the top 5, there are a lot of question marks on the OL in the second for Herman, as we’ve seen in some of the moving around there this spring.
On what position where the depth concerns him most: Corner probably would be the one off the top of my head. You’ve got three guys right now that you feel that you could play in a game.
My take: The three he is referring to are Boyd, D. Davis, and Hill. Cuffee has been running with the twos for most of spring. With D. Davis gone for the spring, who takes that backup corner spot?
On if he has an idea what type of team he has at this point: We have an idea, a decent idea. Training camp is about getting ready to go and win a game, game one, and so there’s not been a whole lot of time for guys to earn their spot on the depth chart before training camp, and we’ve told them that. When we leave spring practice you’ll sort of have a definitive pecking order of guys that we trust, guys that are on the cusp, guys that are probably a year away, and guys that probably aren’t going to be there. You’ve had 15 practices to prove to us what kind of football player you are, if you’re not there yet or at least making strides to get there then that’s a good thing. But if you’re not, then we’ve got to move on.
My take: On this, we can assume that whoever is out there first is there because they are 1) still healthy and 2) have been a top performer this spring. Herman’s used spring not only to assess his team’s play but assess the mental and physical drive of his players. Whoever is playing is out there because they’ve passed all marks.
On how impressed he’s been with the progress of the defensive line through the spring: They’ve come out each and every day and done their job and tried to get better. You want to separate a guy, I have no problem because I do nearly every day in front of the team at practice, it’s Poona Ford. If we can get 11 guys playing like Poona Ford on defense, look out, because if you’re a defensive player on our team and you want to see the fanatical, championship effort that you need to play with snap in and snap out, then you need to look at number 95.
My take: We’ve heard less and less about Herman’s DL this spring on the negative side and more and more about their positive impact. While several players still have some work to do on their bodies, I don’t think Herman expected the effort he’s gotten from that group. Ford continues to play with a fire and drive that he has to have at 5-11.
On Satellite camps: I think our plan is to have four here in Austin. We’re having one I think May 28th, then two the first two weeks in June, then we’ll have a Friday Night Lights camp in July. We’ll have one in the Atlanta area, one in the Las Vegas area hoping to attract kids from both Phoenix and Los Angeles, we’ll have one in the Florida coast area, and one in Southern Louisiana. The rule has changed to give you 10 throughout the month of June and July. We’re not going to have 10 on our campus, it just waters them down. We’re not going to waste them either. There’s a lot of good players. Philosophically, for us, if we can sign an entire class of national championship caliber players that are from the state of Texas, we’re going to do that. If you’re going to sign three linebackers and the first two want to come to Texas and their good enough to win a national championship with, say the third one is good enough but he decides to go elsewhere for whatever reason, then the fourth or fifth one in the state of Texas isn’t quite good enough in your opinion to win a national championship, then you’ve got to go find the best one in the country that is and has a reciprocated interest in the University of Texas. It’s just a way for us to get a brand out there. We’re not going to go out of the state unless it’s an elite, elite national recruit that can come in and make a difference. We feel like those areas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Louisiana, Atlanta and Florida, have some value to us because we’re in the south. There’s brand recognition there, and kids like the University of Texas in those areas.
My take: This is evidence of Herman understanding the resources he has behind the logo. His explanation also lines up with how he’s been recruiting lately; offer the top kids in the state and also offer national elites. Herman is trying to make use of the Texas brand. It is nowhere near as strong as it was in recent years (like before 2009), but it is still a strong brand. Herman is going to attempt to go into populated areas to try and pull some prospects out of there, but the real good stuff here is in hitting Florida, California, and Louisiana.
On assessing the adjustment of the new Texas coaching staff: Good, because all but one of them we’ve worked together and that one comes from a system that runs very similarly to ours, Tim Beck, so there wasn’t really much of an adjustment for us. And that’s why I hired those guys, because they have a good way of doing things, can disseminate the culture to their position groups and do a hell of a job recruiting the state of Texas as well as developing their position group. They’ve done a fine job thus far.
My take: Alignment
On 10th assistant/recruiting calendar changes: 10th assistant I think is great, it’s sorely overdue. The recruiting calendar, I like the early signing day in December, what I don’t like is when they propose the official visits all the way through I think it’s the third week in June. I think that’s a lot of wear and tear on a coach or a coaching staff. I’ve got to juggle camps and official visits, a kid can come on an official visit but can’t participate in a camp. There’s a lot of juggling that goes along with that.
My take: We went over this tidbit more in the most recent Humidor. The 10th assistant is not blindsiding the coaches. Herman has probably been preparing for it to come out for a long time and as we mentioned in the Humidor, Texas has a good plan for that position.
On the urine/hydration chart: Every day. Every practice. We have a urine test every practice day. Today, to actually expand upon the attention to detail that’s setting in, today was the first day actually, we read off the guys that are not hydrated and the guys that are, today was the first day we had 100%. The entire football team was hydrated before practice today, fully hydrated from a medical standpoint. Science tells you when you’re hydrated, think of a steak, a steak is a muscle. A muscle of a cow, but still a muscle. When it’s hydrated, it’s very pliable and stretchy and all that. When it’s dry, like beef jerky, you can tear it apart. You get more pulls, more muscle strains and all that when you’re dehydrated. The brain is 75-80% water as well. Studies have shown that your concussion rate is higher too when you’re dehydrated. Being hydrated around here is not something silly. It’s something we take very, very seriously because it’s a huge part of injury prevention.
My take: Herman is committed to making sure the smallest details are perfect in order to win.