Here are three takeaways from Tom Herman’s appearance on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference.
Tackling work starts now
Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s return to Big 12 play quickly turned into a long day at the office. The Longhorn defense allowed 441 total yards in Saturday’s win over Texas Tech. Poor tackling in the second half allowed the Red Raiders to storm in front late in the fourth quarter.
Herman said that whatever number of missed tackles they had Saturday, it was too many.
“You just practice,” Herman said. “You go through all your tackling drills, you add more into your body of practice. But in 2020 it’s not like we’re going to be lining up against our offense and running full-speed scrimmages just to get better at tackling. So we’ve got to find a way to do it in drill work.”
Ash’s reintroduction to Big 12 offenses didn’t go as planned, but Herman said that he and the defense are committed to improvement.
“Chris and I had been together at Iowa State, so it wasn’t exactly his first go-around in the Big 12,” Herman said. “I think Chris is well aware of the challenges, also well aware of how poorly we played at times in that game against Texas Tech.”
Running back highs and lows
Herman has made clear that the running back room is “by committee,” but junior Keaontay Ingram had the hot hand Saturday.
Ingram carried the ball 12 times for 89 yards and looked comfortable when called on in the second half. Sophomore Roschon Johnson recorded 16 carries, but racked up just 44 yards.
“I did think he adjusted well throughout the game,” Herman said. “Their nose guard is a really good player. … It took us a little bit to kind of figure out how he was going to fit on certain runs. Keaontay had to slow down a little bit and be a little bit more patient, try to cut the ball behind him at times.”
Freshman Bijan Robinson, however, had something of a “welcome to the league” moment in the third quarter. Robinson tried to hurdle a Tech defender, but instead was upended and hit square in the middle of his back.
“It was lesson learned the hard way for a true freshman about trying to hurdle guys,” Herman said. “He certainly has learned his lesson. That was one of the more awkward falls I’ve seen. My stomach was in my throat for a little bit, but he bounced back and is moving around pretty good right now.”
The test ahead
As Herman often says, there is no rest for the weary in the Big 12. After facing Tech sophomore gunslinger Alan Bowman in the conference opener, TCU’s Max Duggan comes to Austin after throwing for 241 yards on just 19 passes in the Horned Frogs’ loss to Iowa State.
“I think he’s a heck of a player, happy for him that he’s healthy again,” Herman said. “The hits just keep coming when it comes to quarterback play in this league. He’s one of the better ones in this league, we’re going to have our hands full with him.”
Defensively, the Horned Frogs limited Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy to just 211 yards passing, but the Cyclones got the job done on the ground. Herman said that Texas has to use their rules against them to move the ball Saturday.
“We’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Patterson and his ability to adjust his defense,” Herman said. “He’s going to be in mainly four-down quarters, but he’s going to have a lot of line movement and different fits for his linebackers based on your tendencies and what you do with your tailback.”