Tom Herman is no stranger to adversity, so he isn’t panicking after the Longhorns’ 33-31 loss to unranked TCU on Saturday.
In a Monday teleconference, the Texas head coach recalled losing back-to-back conference games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia just two seasons ago. The 2018 Longhorns went on to play for a Big 12 Championship for the first time in nearly a decade and beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Now, Herman is trying to rapidly address and solve those issues before this weekend’s matchup against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
“In 2020, nobody in this building is going to panic after a week three two-point loss at home,” Herman said. “Now, it’s not to say we’re burying our head in the sand due to the tremendous amount of issues that we have to correct. … All of the issues that we're trying to correct this week, they would have still existed had we found a way to pull that (TCU) game out and win it.”
The Longhorns have a laundry list of issues to correct from Saturday’s game. Texas committed 12 penalties for 92 yards, not including calls that were declined by the Horned Frogs. They also turned the ball over twice, and the last turnover on the TCU one-yard line ultimately sealed the win for the Horned Frogs.
Herman said that junior running back Keaontay Ingram knows better than to try to reach the ball across the goal line, and acknowledged the difficulty of telling players not to feel they have to win the game themselves.
“Keaontay Ingram sure didn’t plan on fumbling, and Keaontay Ingram surely knows better than to try to reach the ball out,” Herman said. “In this program, that’s something that can’t be emphasized to a greater degree. … You can’t (try to) do too much.”
If Texas had won last week against TCU, the national narrative would likely be that the Longhorns are finding ways to win close games. Herman said Texas has played in a lot of close games in his four years at the University.
Since Herman took over in the fall of 2017, the Longhorns have played 28 games that were within one score or tied in the fourth quarter. Texas is only 15-13 in those games and is 27-16 overall in the past four years. All four of the Longhorns’ games against Oklahoma were within one score or tied during the final period.
There might be an advantage to playing so many close games. Herman said playing close games and having senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger gives players confidence that they can win in mentally challenging situations.
“I think we’ve always had (confidence in close games),” Herman said. “I think our guys are very confident in our ability, and certainly what we were able to overcome in Lubbock added to that. Anytime you have Sam Ehlinger at quarterback, you're gonna feel confident that as long as there's a couple of ticks left on the clock, that he's gonna find a way to to get it done.”
Herman said he isn’t worried about the national rankings and the college football playoff picture after losing to TCU last week. If Texas beats Oklahoma, Herman is OK with letting the chips fall where they may.
“We'll try to take care of our business one week at a time and go 1–0 this week against our rival,” Herman said. “We'll let the national landscape unfold over the next two months.”