Longhorns Buoyed by Trust & Wins, Playing it Cool as Showdown with Oklahoma Looms Large
By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN, Texas — If the past four games are any indication, things are rolling about as smoothly as possible on the Forty Acres.
That has been reflected in the mood of the No. 19 Longhorns' head coach, Tom Herman, and the energy and confidence from his team after its fourth straight win.
Herman was asked during his weekly media availability Monday about the perception of “smoothness” that surrounds the program right now, even as Texas prepares for its biggest game of the season so far: the annual Red River Rivalry against undefeated No. 7 Oklahoma Saturday in Dallas.
“Our players trust us, and we trust them,” Herman said. “Winning on Saturdays certainly helps. But at times even last year, that didn't. There's a belief and a commitment and a buy-in into the way we do things.”[place_ad_1]
Creating a noise-canceling environment
After all the “noise” created around the Texas program that produced three losing seasons under coach Charlie Strong and an unsatisfying 7-6 campaign in 2017 in Herman’s first season, winning, and the way in which Texas is doing it, is eliminating some of that drama.
“Maybe the leadership is so good, too, that it just doesn't get to me or to you,” Herman said, “and it gets squashed before it ever gets started, which is, by definition drama-free. It's the players, and it's the players trusting each other, trusting us and believing and then walking that belief, not just talking about it.”
It also seems that Texas (4-1 overall, 2-0 in Big 12 play) is missing the woods for the trees on big plays over the past three games ... and that’s a good thing. Herman said that because his team is so focused on the success of each play they aren’t getting stressed out about the biggest snaps.
“We get so caught up in the singularness of purpose on each play that we are losing sight, maybe, of the gravity of that play,” Herman said, "... and that's a good thing. No one play is more important than the other or should it be in our players' minds.”
No time to know
Herman said that he was so focused on the play calling and the task at hand at the end of the Longhorns’ 19-14 win over Kansas State last Saturday that he didn’t realize at first that they had been able to run out the final 6:20 to clinch the victory.
“I was standing on the sideline and I did not know until after the game that we just ran the clock out,” Herman claimed,"and got it with six-and-a-half minutes and they had a timeout left. [place_ad_1]
“Or that we converted a third down and then a third-and-9 from (quarterback Sam) Ehlinger to (wide receiver) Collin (Johnson), and all those things that when you then look back on it you're like, wow, those are some pretty big moments.”
Roach out, Ingram good to go
Herman said that his team is starting to get healthy again but also announced that linebacker Malcolm Roach would be lost for the season because of his broken foot.
“We're actually on the mend, which is a good thing,” Herman said. “As of now, other than the season-out guys, the Malcolm Roach and (Rob) Cummins with season-ending surgeries, and Patrick Hudson still working on his return-to-play protocol from the heat deal, we're in pretty good shape.”
Cummins, the freshman who used to go by "Max," was lost for the year to a knee injury in an August scrimmage.
Roach broke his foot against USC and had surgery prior to the TCU game. It originally was expected that Roach’s injury would keep him out six to eight weeks, but now he won’t be back this year. The junior played in three games this year and has a redshirt season remaining.
Herman added that defensive backs Montrell Estelle and B.J. Foster, each of whom suffered a concussion over the past two weeks, would be evaluated in the run-up to Saturday’s game and are expected to be cleared to play.
“But other than that, (defensive back) Jarmarquis Durst should be ready to go,” Herman said. “(Wide receiver) Brennan Eagles should be ready to go ... (running back) Keaontay Ingram, so on and so forth — so excited to see that, and excited for this week.”
True freshman Jamison earns Big 12 honor
D’Shawn Jamison earned kudos from the Big 12 Conference as its Special Teams Player of the Week Monday following his performance at Kansas State. It is the first weekly honor for Jamison in his career.
Jamison returned a punt 90 yards for his first career touchdown as the Longhorns earned their first win over K-State in Manhattan since 2002. It was the 31st punt return for a touchdown in school history, and the first since the season opener against Maryland last year.
It was the fourth-longest punt return for a touchdown in school history.
Jamison became the first Longhorn true freshman with a punt return for a touchdown since Selvin Young in 2002. He is just the third true freshman in school history with a punt return for a touchdown (the other was Mike Adams in 1992).
In other news, the Big 12 announced the Longhorns' Oct. 13 home game against Baylor will kick off at 2:30 CDT.