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Following Saturday’s scrimmage, Tom Herman talked leadership from his quarterbacks, Stan Drayton’s role on his staff, an impressing freshman DL, and how the team will spend its Sunday off.
Opening statement: “It was hot. I think at one point it was 109 heat index, something like that. This is about the time of day where we’re going to kick off in four weeks. It was good to get out there. About 55 plays for the ones and twos, so got a lot of reps. Update, Reggie Hemphill practiced. He was good to go. Jason Hall got dinged up after about I think maybe 20-30 plays. They took him in. Neck. Head. Something. They haven’t examined him enough to say whether it’s a concussion or not. Other than that, I think everybody came out healthy.”
On Hall’s injury and if it registered with Herman: “He likes to hit people. I saw it, so no, I guess not. It didn’t register with me.”
On who stood out: “You can ask me Monday after I watch the film of it.”
On how far along they are in install: “Pretty far in terms of our base offense and defense, base meaning third down as well. We don’t have a huge red zone package in yet, but we needed a little bit just so we could function in the scrimmage. We don’t have two minute. There’s a few kind of special situations that we don’t have in just yet. Probably over three quarters of what we’re going to do is being ran out there.”
On if QBs have grasp on playbook: “That’s the goal. You can ask any kid that’s in a class room or a teaching environment ‘You got that?’ ‘Yes sir.’ Not very many kids say ‘no, I don’t have that.’ We make a big deal about teaching the teacher in our program, and you’ve got to know it so well that you can teach it back to the teacher. I think Shane (Buechele) and Sam (Ehlinger) both have that in the classroom. I think Shane can transfer it to the field a little bit better. Sam, he gets it right in the classroom but when 11 guys are flying around, it’s a little bit too much hit or miss right now. Both of them in the classroom, understand and grasp the offense.”
On the team’s legs: “After today, not great. We didn’t practice on Sundays in the past anyways. Now that tomorrow’s a mandated off day, we’ll get guys in cryo chambers. We’ll get them in saltwater float tanks. We’ve got masseuses and massage therapists coming in to get all that done. It’ll be a big, big, big recovery day for us tomorrow so Monday, hopefully, we’ll be in a lot better shape than we are right now.”
On if practice is championship caliber: “I don’t know about championship. I think we’re getting there. It’s probably premature to use that word in anything we do right now, but I think we definitely understand the value of hard work and hard practice and full speed and emptying your tank. We’re doing that, for the most part. The guys that aren’t are getting exposed, too. The cool thing is it’s transitioning from a coach-fed program to a player-led program. We’re not there yet, but more and more guys, if a coach has his back turned or if a coach, we don’t miss very much, but if we miss something that’s not the way we do things around here, a lot of the guys will pick up on it and call the offender out on their own, which is what you want.”
On Stan Drayton’s role at UT: “I think a couple of things. One, he’s in most of the meetings with me and Coach (Yancy) McKnight when we’re talking about motivation and culture, which we have those every couple days. Where’s the team? What do we need? What’s next? Practice plans. He’s involved in all those meetings, and probably the biggest thing is if something needs to be done and I’m not there, he’s able to kind of run the meeting and run the staff. For instance, we had our coach’s retreat Thursday and Friday of two weeks ago I guess. Or last week. Ten days ago. We had a big time recruit show up on campus, so I had to leave. We had 20 guys on our staff. We had a very regimented itinerary that we needed to stick to in order to get done what we needed to get done. I just said ‘hey, Stan’s in charge. I’ve got to run for a couple of hours to go see the recruit.’ I think that all of those things, that probably as just an assistant coach without that title, you don’t get exposed to as much.”
On if Stan Drayton would be in charge if Herman were hit by a bus: “Yes.”
On who are the guys that call others out: “[Connor Williams] is one of them, which is great. He wasn’t in January and February, but he is now. I think Andrew Beck on that side of the ball is probably the other one, and Patrick Vahe. On defense, got a few in Naashon (Hughes), P.J. Locke, and DeShon Elliot are kind of emerging as kind of the three. And Malik (Jefferson). Malik does a good job of that, too.”
On Ta’Quon Graham: “He comes from a great high school program. When you’re trained the way that he’s trained, you’re physically and mentally able to adapt. Certainly, when you’re 18 going against 22 year-old men, there’s a growth and development that you can’t make up. At least he’s as developed as you can be for an 18 year-old. The biggest thing is just can you physically survive in there from a size and strength standpoint. He’s one of those true freshman that God’s blessed him with some really, really advanced physical tools for a guy his age. He was developed really well in high school.”
On if Graham’s play has surprised following injury his senior year: “He’s doing what I think we all expected him to.”
On how Buechele has developed vocally: “I heard him scream, which was really cool, in enjoyment and in disapproval. Hearing his voice is really cool. I think even the players kind of told him, too. ‘Hey, your voice is really powerful, and it can have a dramatic effect on the way we responded, whether it’s to success or to failure. What you say and how you say it has an effect.’ I think he’s taken that to heart, and done a really good job. It’s not forced either. He’s just expressing what he was feeling inside where before I think he kept it all to himself.”
On if he doesn’t have to pry it out of Buechele anymore: “Oh yeah.”
On if someone told Shane he can one of UT’s better QB: “Tim Beck, I think those were a big part of his early meetings. ‘You’ve already got the pelts on the wall. You’ve earned their respect. Yeah, you didn’t win as many games as you would have liked. You played hurt. You played tough. You played through a lot of stuff. There’s not a guy on this team that doesn’t respect you.’”
On importance of vocal leaders: “First, you’ve got to do. We talk all the time that the people that you’re leading, as a leader, they hear your words, they see your actions, and they feel your intentions. You’ve got to have the second two to have the first. They’ve got to see your actions and feel your intentions. Lastly, I think probably the biggest thing about being vocal is that it unites or unifies the entire team. When you’re not vocal, you wind up having these little cliques that go over here and either blame somebody else and complain about things, and you have cliques over here and cliques over there. Maybe it’s good things, too. But it’s still ‘you’re my guy so we’re going to go celebrate together.’ I think when you’re hearing all these voices from different people on different sides of the ball, different positions, then it fosters a much more team atmosphere.”
On if he likes vocal more than lead by example leaders: “There’s not a true leader that’s never been exemplary. That’s a given. If you’re given the word ‘leader,’ by default you have to lead by example. Being vocal is the next step. The lead by example guys, the guys that keep their mouth shut but work hard, I’d rather it that way than the alternative. I think for you to take the next step as a leader, you have to be heard.”
On designed QB runs: Absolutely. A lot of the rushing yards from our previous quarterbacks in this system were on scrambles. Designed runs probably won’t be a whole lot less than what we have had in the past. Maybe a little bit, not because of ability but more so the depth issue at that position. The beauty of running your quarterback is, again, you’re equating numbers in the run game. Instead of handing it off to somebody and not blocking, playing nine on 11, you’re at least playing 10 on 11.
On Hemphill’s status: “I think we’re going to continue to monitor him as the trainers have told me it is unusual for a 19 year-old kid to experience his first migraine ever, but it’s not unheard of, either. We’ll monitor it and see if they come back. I think we’re pretty much out of the woods as of now. At least we know again if he gets a pretty sharp headache he won’t be as nervous about it and we’ll be able to treat it a little bit better.”