After a couple of days away from the media, Longhorns coach Tom Herman had a session today where he caught everyone up on the latest and greatest - and not so greatest - from the last few days of camp.
(H/T to the always-outstanding transcription work from Precocious Joe Cook at Inside Texas.)
Herman confirmed yesterday’s big news and shed some additional light - Andrew Beck re-broke his surgically-repaired foot in a non-contact drill. This despite the staff having traveled all the way to Oregon to acquire a special orthotic shoe for Beck on account of his previous surgery. The medical staff is evaluating options, but if Beck needs yet another surgery on the foot then that closes the book on his 2017 availability.
When asked about work-arounds at the position, Herman talked about a solid camp from Kendall Moore but swiftly pivoted to a discussion on four-wide and two-back offense sets “without straying too far from what your core beliefs are.” He mentioned Moore, Garrett Gray and true freshman Cade Brewer as guys who could “prove that they deserve to be on the field quite a bit,” but reading between the lines it sounds like the fundamental nature of Texas’ approach to offense this season will undergo a shift without Beck in the fold. The Herman’s Philosophy vs. 2017 Team Strengths dichotomy that we explored in Thinking Texas Football is once more at the forefront.
Redshirt freshman DB Chris Brown also suffered a high ankle sprain, but it sounds like it was of a much milder variety than the one that waylaid Elijah Rodriguez. Brown should be back to headhunting on special teams in a month or so.
Herman said that for Shane Buechele to truly seize the starting job, he needs to lock down the more advanced elements of quarterbacking in this offense from setting protections and calling motions to making pre-snap reads and attacking defensive tendencies. That’s a lot for a true sophomore to handle following a season in a much simpler throw n’ go O...but by extension, it’s also a WHOLE lot for a true freshman to handle. Herman followed up by saying that he felt good about Shane’s ability to tighten things up in the next sixteen days before the season kicks off.
As has been common throughout August, Herman spoke highly of the team’s effort and engagement in the most recent practice. The team played with “enthusiasm and juice,” and he praised them for taking a businesslike approach to taking care of their bodies, taking advantage of therapy options and (presumably) taking down a gallon-plus of water like champs every day.
Running Back Shuffle
Herman sounded a bit miffed with freshman runners Daniel Young and Toneil Carter, referencing “catastrophic freshman mistakes” that you can’t live with. Carter has reportedly battled some ball security issues of late, but it sounded like Herman was speaking more specifically on blitz pickup this time around. That’s as big a limiting factor for playing time as anything for young backs, and it could be even more of a factor if the Horns tilt more towards four-wide sets with the back as the only guy inside the formation (as opposed to keeping the TE in and flaring the back as we frequently saw with Carter in the Spring Game).
The good news was Herman’s praise of Chris Warren’s camp as well as his note that he “felt” Kirk Johnson’s presence today. We’ve still got Dorothy, Blanche and Rose lit for Johnson’s health, but it at least sounds like his skill set is undiminished. Kyle Porter was still non-contact with his banged-up shoulder, but Herman sounded optimistic about a return to full-go for Porter next week.
Feel-Good Moment of the Day
Herman took time at the end of his availability to acknowledge walk-on O-lineman Garrett Graf, who was awarded a scholarship yesterday in recognition of a ton of hard work over the past couple of seasons. Herman said that Graf has earned some second-team run at center and praised him as an example of the kind of player you need in order to build a walk-on program that translates to Saturday wins.
Congratulations, Garrett! Tomorrow we’ll take a deeper-dive look at some of the Longhorns’ best options for Running on Empty - or at least running from plenty of four-wide sets.