Tom Herman discusses injuries, roster depth after Texas football home opener

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Texas Athletics

The Texas football team blew out UT-El Paso in its home opener Saturday night, and a few Longhorns got banged up in the process.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Whittington sat out in the second half of the game due to a small tear in his right knee, and redshirt junior defensive back Josh Thompson suffered from deep cuts to his ear, Texas football head coach Tom Herman said in a Zoom teleconference Monday. 

“Josh Thompson got too many stitches to count in his ear,” Herman said. “It’s pretty gruesome. To think that happened inside of a helmet was a little bit scary."

Thompson returned to practice Sunday, but Whittington will join sophomore wide receiver Jake Smith, who is rehabbing a hamstring injury, in sitting out, Herman said. After Whittington undergoes surgery, Herman said he will miss three to four weeks.

Junior defensive back B.J. Foster also left the game early Saturday night, although it wasn’t due to injury. Anwar Richardson of OrangeBloods.com reported Sunday that Foster had “quit the team” in the third quarter because he was frustrated with his lack of playing time. Foster had a lapse in judgement and has returned to the team, Herman said.

“B.J. obviously let his frustrations get the best of him and was very contrite, very apologetic,” Herman said. “We’ll handle the discipline in-house, and he knows what he did was wrong … It’s okay to be frustrated, but we’ve got to be able to control our actions.”

One possible reason Foster may not be seeing as much playing time as he’d like is Texas growing roster depth. In addition to talented recruits, the Longhorns also boast experienced graduate transfers and productive walk-on players.

 

“We feel like we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at Texas, which is to recruit at a very high level — a level you compare to the elite teams in college football — and then develop them,” Herman said. “You’re finally seeing, again, what we’ve been talking about for four years, you know, that it takes time. We’re still certainly not a finished product.” 

The Longhorns put on a solid opening performance Saturday night. The defense only allowed the Miners a field goal, and senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw five touchdown passes in the first half.

Although Herman said he’s proud of the team’s effort level and execution, he doesn’t want the players to get too high on their first win. The Longhorns also had a great first outing last year against nonconference opponent Louisiana Tech before finishing the regular season 7–5.

Texas is making forward progress Herman said, but the team will have to keep its foot on the gas. The Longhorns have to play well to reach their goal of a Big 12 championship title, but they’ll also have to remain free of COVID-19. 

Herman said he’s confident in the team's ability to stay disciplined after seeing their commitment over the last several weeks.

“When I look around and I read the news of what other teams are dealing with all across the country, I tell our guys every day how proud I am of them. Every day. And it’s them; they’re doing it,” Herman said.