FIRST SIGN OF FOOT­BALL

News from Longhorns’ first fall prac­tice un­der Tom Her­man

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Davis bdavis@states­man.com

Tom Her­man, drip­ping with sweat, didn’t pro­claim suc­cess or fail­ure af­ter Texas’ first prac­tice on Mon­day. With 28 prac­tices re­main­ing and more than a month be­fore the sea­son opener, the Longhorns have a long way to go.

“Noth­ing re­ally state­men­t­wise,” Her­man said af­ter the work­out ended about 10:30 a.m., long be­fore Mother Na­ture re­ally turned up the heat. It was 106 de­grees in Austin on Sun­day. “No­body im­pressed, no­body dis­ap­pointed in shorts.”

And no­body’s wor­ried about Mary­land at the mo­ment, ei­ther. Her­man said he won’t name a start­ing quar­ter­back un­til mid-Au­gust. “I hadn’t watched a snap of Mary­land film, and I won’t,” the first-year coach said. “It does noth­ing other than you get more ner­vous than you prob­a­bly al­ready are.

“The first three weeks of train­ing camp are about de­vel­op­ing

your team’s iden­tity and in­still­ing a cul­ture,” Her­man added. “We’ll worry about win­ning a game down the road. Other than an off week, you don’t even work ahead, so we won’t worry about Mary­land or San Jose (State) un­til the weeks we play them.”

Gray­beards will be aghast to learn that the NCAA now out­laws two-a-day work­outs. To give schools ex­tra time to pre­pare for the sea­son, the start date was pushed back into late July. Teams are al­lowed 29 pre­sea­son work­outs. It’s up to the coach to make it all work.

“I think, though, if we’re go­ing to stick with this model, then kids re­port­ing on July 30, that’s a lit­tle crazy to me,” Her­man said. “It think we should na­tion­ally cut prac­tices down to 26 or 25. Not only does it al­ter our sched­ul­ing, but it al­ters our sum­mer train­ing pro­gram.”

Miss­ing time: Only two Longhorns were not on the field Mon­day. Trans­fer de­fen­sive tackle Ja­mari Chisholm and fresh­man re­ceiver Damion Miller were fin­ish­ing up sum­mer aca­demic work.

Her­man did say run­ning back Kirk John­son prac­ticed. How­ever, he was un­able to fin­ish the work­out be­cause of a new ham­string is­sue. John­son missed last sea­son with a torn knee liga­ment. Whether he will con­trib­ute this sea­son is un­clear.

“He’s a guy, he’s bat­tling. He loves foot­ball,” Her­man said of John­son. “To see him out there to­day was en­cour­ag­ing. We’ll see how the thing pro­gresses, but he’s done ev­ery­thing we’ve asked him to.” Start­ing quar­ter­back to be named later: Her­man said he’ll prob­a­bly name a start­ing quar­ter­back about two weeks be­fore the sea­son opener against Mary­land on Sept. 2.

Sopho­more Shane Buechele, who started all 12 games last sea­son and threw for al­most 3,000 yards, would ap­pear to be the fa­vorite. But don’t count out fresh­man Sam Eh­linger, a daz­zling run­ner from West­lake High School.

“The guy that’s the starter needs to take ev­ery rep with the (first team) as we start get­ting ready to win a game,” Her­man said.

Her­man had cau­tious praise for Buechele at Big 12 me­dia days but left lit­tle doubt that the po­si­tion wasn’t his alone. The coach has said nu­mer­ous times that it’s dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine who looks good wear­ing shorts and shirts alone. UT’s first full-padded prac­tice will be Fri­day, and the team will have a scrim­mage Satur­day.

Asked what he likes about Eh­linger, Her­man said, “De­ci­sive­ness. Sam’s a very cere­bral guy, a re­ally sharp guy. Some­times, a lot of times, with quar­ter­backs that’s a detri­ment. He thinks a lot

out there.”

Her­man said he told Eh­linger that whether it’s seven-on-seven or 11-on-11, “just stop think­ing and just play. I think he started to do that a lit­tle bit bet­ter to­ward the end of prac­tice.”

Shed­ding weight: Last Au­gust, then-UT head coach Char­lie Strong said his team looked “as good as any­body” when they walked on the field.

Phys­i­cally speak­ing, some looked phe­nom­e­nal.

New strength coach Yancy McKnight has turned the screws even tighter, ap­par­ently. Her­man ca­su­ally threw out some eye-pop­ping num­bers about his play­ers’ off­sea­son work af­ter Mon­day’s first prac­tice.

“I think we’ve shed 500 pounds of body fat and added 380 pounds of lean mus­cle mass as a team since Jan­uary,” he said. “We’ve in­creased our team av­er­age ver­ti­cal jump by an inch and half, which across the whole team is pretty sig­nif­i­cant.

“I think our back squat maxes in­creased 70 pounds per per­son, so that means some guys were 40 and some guys were 100 in months,” the coach added. “It’s no­tice­able out there. Much more stamina, and I don’t mean that from a lung stand­point. When you are strong, you can go and bend and change di­rec­tion. When you’re weak, in pe­riod 12, you’re hav­ing a hard time chang­ing di­rec­tion.”

One player Her­man doted on was re­ceiver Reg­gie Hem­phill-Mapps, who is now listed at 185 pounds. “He’s added weight to his thin frame and needed to,” Her­man said. “When you’re out there, you’re block­ing nick­els and Sam lineback­ers, not cor­ners.”

Her­man said an ideal weight for run­ning back Chris War­ren III would be 250 pounds. That’s ex­actly what he’s listed at on the ros­ter. Con­tact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Twit­ter: @BDav­isAAS

RALPH BARRERA / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Texas’ first-year head coach, Tom Her­man (top left), wants to in­still tough­ness and change the team’s over­all cul­ture dur­ing pre­sea­son prac­tice, which started Mon­day morn­ing at De­nius Fields. Her­man said play­ers have made great im­prove­ments dur­ing their off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing drills: “It’s no­tice­able out there. Much more stamina.”

RALPH BARRERA / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Quar­ter­backs Shane Buechele (left) and Sam Eh­linger (right) go through drills Mon­day dur­ing the Longhorns’ first day of train­ing camp.

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