Blackwell: Football ends, football begins…

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Sifting through the end of football in 2019, the beginning of football in 2020, and trying to decipher if the Texas basketball team can qualify for the NIT again this year and thus defend its title…

Tom Herman’s press conference this week – which morphed into Chris Ash and Mike Yurcich’s press conferences as well – was certainly interesting once the CoachSpeak was siphoned out. The Texas head coach looked tanned and serious, talking about recruiting and gushing about the fact that 18 of his 19 signees this time around came from the State of Texas (shout-out to all of those Texas high school coaches).

Among the topics addressed by Herman was the acknowledgment that DeMarvion Overshown will move from defensive back to linebacker, and that Joseph Ossai will now play the new role of “Jack” in the Texas defense under Ash. While the success of Overshown’s position change will remain unclear until the season literally begins, it was made obvious in the Alamo Bowl that Ossai will likely flourish regardless of position.

Ossai’s performance in the bowl game was dominant, and he is set to make a lot of money for himself in his 2020 season.

Roschon Johnson will remain at running back rather than quarterback, and this is a good thing indeed. The combination of Keaontay Ingram, Bijan Robinson and Johnson could be lethal, and that depth – in February, when everyone is healthy – is enabling Jordan Whittington to move to slot receiver, which is also a favorable move in my view.

New offensive coach Mike Yurcich had the line of the day during his presser when he said play-calling was “something that gets me off”, a line which brought a few muffled laughs from the ink-stained wretches in the press seats, but I thought it was telling that Yurcich himself wasn’t laughing when he said it. Dude is dead serious, and what I remembered most from his time behind the microphone was his statement that new quarterback Hudson Card is getting a front-row seat watching Sam Ehlinger lead the team in the off-season.

Yurcich said Ehlinger is holding his teammates accountable and is ensuring that the team’s primary discipline is “player-driven.” Again, it’s only February, but these are encouraging words.

Ash, like Yurcich, appears to be no-nonsense and it’s clear that if you are looking for a “quote of the day” it will not come from his lips. Undoubtedly, the “music to my ears” part of his session with the media came when he said he believes a defense should be built “front to back”, exactly the words that need to be spoken after a season in which Texas fans begged to see better play out of the defensive line.

Ash also mentioned coaching J.J. Watt and Joey Bosa, and then very comfortably talked about how much he was also looking forward to coaching Ossai in a similar quarterback-terrorizing role.

All of the above sounds great. In February. So far, so good.