Head coach Tom Herman met with the media Wednesday to discuss the state of Texas football. The Longhorns are currently in the middle of their second bye week of the season — something the team desperately needed following their 37-27 loss to TCU and slew of injuries throughout the season.
Herman said he was happy with his team’s development over the week, but he also emphasized there is still work to be done.
“(It’s been a) really good couple days,” Herman said. “I like the energy, the accountability. You know I think our guys, they watch the same video we do and I understand that. We have not performed to our standards here the last few weeks. But … we’ve still got plenty of football left to play. You know our backs (are) against the wall … and we’ll find out what kind of fighters we have.”
Following the bye week, some of Texas’ key players will be back for the game against Kansas State. Herman said that both freshman running back Jordan Whittington and sophomore defensive back Caden Sterns practiced individually Wednesday, while sophomore defensive back B.J. Foster was in a green jersey and ran 7-on-7 drills.
Sophomore safety DeMarvion Overshown and linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch did not practice Wednesday but should be back next Tuesday, Herman said.
“All those guys are trending in the right direction to be available to us next Saturday,” Herman said.
Junior tight end Cade Brewer, who suffered an ankle injury against the Horned Frogs, had surgery this week and will not be back until the bowl game. Sophomore punter Ryan Bujcevski also had surgery for his broken clavicle, and senior kicker Chris Naggar will assume his role for now.
Texas will have added depth on its roster against the Wildcats. Getting the team physically ready has been important to the head coach, but Herman has also been working on the relationships between the younger players.
“We got a lot of older veterans and a lot of young guys, and we’ve got to find some of those bridge guys from the older group to the younger group,” Herman said.
Last year, quarterback Sam Ehlinger and tight end Andrew Beck assumed those roles as “bridges” between the old and the new. Herman said he has been talking with sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai, freshman defensive lineman Keondre Coburn, freshman offensive lineman Junior Angilau and sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram to be this season’s links. Herman said these leaders should help create urgency in some of the younger players.
For some of the players, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of their three losses. However, Herman combatted that Tuesday with a team meeting where they discussed what their response should be going forward.
“Human nature, when you don’t get the outcome that you desire, is to blame others, complain about your circumstances and defend yourself,” Herman said. “We can’t have that. We have to fight human nature and the way you want your outcome to change. You’ve got to change your response … So we’ve got to crank the urgency level up for some guys and the attention to detail for some others, but I think they all are very keenly aware that there’s a lot of football left to be played.”