FIRST SIGN OF FOOTBALL
News from Longhorns’ first fall practice under Tom Herman
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
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
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.”
Quarterbacks Shane Buechele (left) and Sam Ehlinger (right) go through drills Monday during the Longhorns’ first day of training camp.