Tom Herman took to the microphone with a Top 10 team in the wake of the Longhorns’ epic victory over Oklahoma.
Here are five key takeaways from Herman’s session:
1. Herman looked a bit worse for the wear, perhaps a reflection of the grind he and his team have worked through since losing their opener at Maryland six weeks ago.
Texas’ ranking at No. 9 is its highest in the AP poll since week four of 2010, and the Longhorns have not been ranked this highly for their seventh game of a season since 2009.
“We’re banged up – these last four weeks have been kind of a bit of a meat grinder, if you will,” Herman said. “I’m maybe the most proud of how the team came to work yesterday. They came ready to get better, understanding that we’re 0-0 against Baylor this week and that our preparation is what’s led us to where we’re at now.”
2. Texas has no new injuries to report from the rock’em-sock’em game with the Sooners, always one of the hardest hitting of the season.
Offensive lineman Patrick Hudson (heat-related illness) and linebacker Malcolm Roach (foot) are out for the season.
“We understand, you know, what’s at stake this week, and every step we take throughout the season makes the next week that much more important,” Herman said.
3. Yes, the Longhorns are rolling and have worked to regain the program’s rightful spot among the elite of college football.
But Herman also said his team is not to the point where winning is an expectation. In other words, he’s stressing to the team not to give back all of the ground it gained in the Red River Shootout by losing this week.
“I don’t think we’re at a place right now where you can say winning is expected and that’s okay,” Herman explained. “Winning right now is the fruit of the labor of the week of preparation, and it should be celebrated immensely, whether you’re beating Tulsa or Oklahoma, it doesn’t matter. Winning is extremely difficult.”
4. Herman thinks highly of his team – just not as highly as the AP poll voters. Herman confessed he ranked the Longhorns at No. 11 in the Coaches’ Poll.
“I watch so little college football – I don’t know,” he said when asked for a comparison of his team to those around it in the poll. “I hear Alabama is really good. I haven’t watched enough to know what I’m comparing us against.
“There are times, too, for the most part as coaches, we see all our warts, right, every day in practice, every day in film study. You’re like, there is no way we could be…look at this mistake we made, look at this mistake we made, look at this mistake we made. So that’s a difficult thing to answer.
“I know they’re fun for people to describe match-ups, but the only (poll) that matters is the one at the end. Midseason polls are great because our kids have earned that recognition, but we gotta go out and win every week. For it to matter.”
5. Winning brings out the attaboys and naysayers. Herman said that he received 197 text messages in the 24 hours following the Longhorns’ win Saturday in the Red River Rivalry.
“I got nine after we lost to Maryland – I got nine,” Herman said. “With an 18- to 22-year old kid that’s on probably four different social media platforms, I would imagine that his circle is being pulled in every direction to try to expand.
“You need to tighten your circle in times like this, not expand it,” Herman said. “The only people that should matter in terms of what they think of you are the teammates that see you practice every day and your coaches that see you practice and prepare.”
–Steve Habel, Field Level Media