Football

Amid injuries and needed offseason evaluation, Texas prepares for regular season finale

Want daily Texas Longhorns content on the latest team and recruiting information from Eric Nahlin, Justin Wells, Ian Boyd, Scipio Tex, and Joe Cook? Sign up HERE today!

Texas head coach Tom Herman would prefer to talk about going 1-0 versus Texas Tech on the day after Thanksgiving. With the way Texas’ season progressed following two straight losses on the road to Iowa State and Baylor, he’s not really able to talk about TTU. More pressing issues are at hand for a coach whose hopes for a Big 12 Championship appearance became more and more unlikely as the month of November went on.

“Obviously disappointed in the last couple of weeks, not just in the outcome but in how we lost those games, but my message is the team is we are not where we had expected to be,” Herman said Monday. “We haven’t played to our standard. We haven’t coached to our standard, but none of that matters this week.”

What matters, according to Herman, is Texas playing its best football this Friday for a 16-member senior class. In order for that occur, Texas might have to play its best football without some of its key contributors.

Herman gave a lengthy injury report to start his press conference. Linebacker Juwan Mitchel aggravated a hamstring issue prior to the Baylor game. Corner Anthony Cook and tight end Cade Brewer are both out for the game with the Red Raiders, though Herman said he expects Brewer back for the bowl game. Tackle Samuel Cosmi sprained his ankle and was limited in Monday’s practice.

Receiver Devin Duvernay had a knee contusion swell up and was limited in Monday’s practice. Corner Jalen Green sprained his ankle and is listed as questionable. Running back Keaontay Ingram was said to be improving from his ankle sprain that knocked him out of the second half versus Baylor.

Receiver Collin Johnson is “probably bowl game,” according to Herman. Safety DeMarvion Overshown joined the ankle sprain bunch, with Herman hoping his injury will improve this week. Finally, running back Jordan Whittington had more imaging done on his groin in order to determine the cause of his recurring pain.

Despite that lengthy injury report, Texas still has plenty of talent on the roster thanks to Herman’s recruiting. Two of his top 5 classes, his 2017 transition class that included his star quarterback Sam Ehlinger, and Charlie Strong’s last top 10 class make up his roster.

However, that talent has not been on display over the past few weeks. Other teams who almost take pride in having less overall talent made the Longhorns look like the inferior team for extended lengths of time.

Developing talent is something Herman admitted he has not done a good job of this year, and it is an aspect of his program that he said needs review.

“We’re all in this together, but at the end of the day the buck stops with me,” Herman said. “That is a big charge of mine in the offseason is to find a way to get these guys better developed and put them in better positions to succeed. Then comes the part where the players got to decide I want to take the steps that are necessary to be developed.”

That’s not the only area that’s in review, as Herman said he will be in “big-time evaluation mode of everything” throughout his program.

Herman referenced a line from Urban Meyer, who he coached under at Ohio State. Meyer often repeated that even if a player wasn’t responding to a position coach, “it’s not that kid, it’s that coach.”

But so far, his coaches have not found the right recipe for success over the last month and a half of the season. “We’ve got to figure out this off-season where we failed in that area and make sure that that doesn’t happen again,” Herman said.

Before Herman dives into any sort of offseason review, he knows they’ll get Texas Tech’s best shot this Friday at 11 a.m.