AUSTIN — Patrick Vahe, Jerrod Heard, and Shane Buechele were all available to the media Monday following the 41-7 win over UTEP. All three players were asked about playing the Cal Bears, whether it was Heard reminiscing on last year’s performance, to Buechele and Vahe getting ready for their first real road test.
Heard reflects on last year’s Cal game, ease of wide receiver
Now that the ‘Jerrod Heard to wide receiver experiment’ is no longer an experiment but rather on the way to success, Heard comes into the first Texas road game of the season against Cal as one of the biggest weapons on offense for freshman quarterback Shane Buechele. For Heard, it comes almost one year after his breakout performance as a freshman quarterback against Cal, where he set a school record for total yards.
“That’s one of the things I don’t forget about is that run,” Heard said about his rushing touchdown last year that brought the game to within one. “That was one of the best moments I’ve ever had. I love seeing that and keep reliving that.”
Although that seemed like Heard’s coming out party, his time at the quarterback position did not last. While some might be upset at losing the starting job, Heard took it in stride.
“I never really set myself like I was going to be golden child quarterback,” Heard said. “All I really wanted to do is just play football. Any opportunity that’s given to me, I’ll always be open to take it. I feel like my job is to be the best I can do, and be good at it.”
Heard, heading to Berkeley as a wide receiver, still has some work to do at the receiver position. It would not appear to be so difficult for Heard, as he brought in two touchdowns in Texas’ last game against UTEP.
“I don’t want to say it’s extremely easy,” Heard said. “To me, as far as playing receiver, the biggest thing I’m working is being consistent in route running. Coach Traylor and Coach Williams are helping me with that. It’s one of those things that I keep asking them ‘what can I do to get better in my route running?’”
For the first time since last season, Heard took a snap in the shotgun in a wildcat look against UTEP. Heard did not say if he wanted more snaps in that look, saying the decision was not his to make.
“That’s up to the coaches, but that would be nice if I could get back there and get some carries,” Heard said. “As far as that, that’s game planning with the coaches.”
Heard has continued to say how seamless the transition was. He did note one challenge his new position gives him.
“I really just feel like that’s the hardest part of playing receiver; having the defender in your face and trying to go make the catch,” Heard said. “I just feel like its way easier than playing quarterback.”
Buechele previews opening trip to Berkeley
For true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele, the challenge of leaving Royal-Memorial Stadium is not something he fears, but rather something he cannot wait for.
“I’m just excited to go out and play somewhere else and seeing what it’s like,” Buechele said. “The whole team will be excited to go out there. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing at home and just carry it on to the road.”
Buechele may be ready for the road, but by his own admission it will be something he is not used to playing in.
“I’ve never played in front of a tough crowd,” Buechele said. “My last playoff game there was a lot of people there, but other than that it wasn’t too crazy.”
While Shane Buechele has been at the helm of one of the country’s most efficient offenses, Buechele thinks there is plenty of room of improvement for his defense.
“You can improve everywhere,” Buechele said. “Staying with the tempo and making throws you’re supposed to make and executing the offense.”
In the game against UTEP, Buechele showed his ability as both a thrower and a rusher, amassing 34 yards on 11 carries. Buechele said that’s part of the offense, and he’s going to make plays on the ground.
“It’s just part of the run-read game,” Buechele said. “You have to go through your reads, and if I have to run it, I’m going to run it.”
Although he may tuck the ball and run, Buechele knows that as the freshmen catalyst for the offense, he needs to be selective about how hard he runs.
“Seeing the down and distance,” Buechele said about what he keeps in mind when running with the football. “If it’s first and ten, you’re trying to get a couple of yards then get down. If it’s third and four, third and five, you’re trying to get the first down. It depends on down and distance.”
Buechele reiterated the fact that the team still has room to grow within the offense that offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert has installed.
“I think you just have to trust in the process of what we’ve done,” Buechele said. “Just putting in this offense, we knew what we could do. It’s just executing and seeing if you can be successful. So far we’ve done that. We just have to keep on executing.”
Vahe gives leadership perspective on growing team
Sophomore offensive linemen Patrick Vahe was one of the few regular starters who not only was healthy enough to play against Notre Dame and UTEP, but also is set to play against Cal barring injury. While Texas was not able to put its first five out due to injury, Vahe is confident in whoever lines up by him.
“I’m playing the game with four other guys that are on the same page as me,” Vahe said. “Anybody who comes in, they know what to do. They don’t hesitate. We just execute the play.”
Listening to Vahe, it’s easy to infer that he and the rest of the offensive linemen have a huge amount of trust in their position coach, Matt Mattox. Vahe said that trust is appreciated by the men he coaches. “If he feels like he can trust you to go in the game and do the job, there’s a reason why you go in that game,” Vahe said.
Vahe gives off a calm confidence in his interviews, and it’s that type of confidence he plans to bring to Berkeley.
“When we’re on the road, we don’t take it as a vacation,” Vahe said. “We’ve got to take it as a business trip we’ve got to handle. Really we’ve just got to focus and stay on the same page no matter where we’re going. Coach used to tell us that every football field is the same, so you play the same every time you step on one.”
For Vahe, there is one area he makes sure he has down when on the road.
“Really it’s just mental focus whenever we go on the road,” Vahe said. “It’s nothing new whenever