It’s been a long nine months since Texas ended its 2016 campaign back in late November. Since then, the Longhorns found a new head coach, revamped its offseason workout program and began to install a new culture on the 40 Acres.
So what’s the state of the Longhorns with their season opener less than a week away? Here’s what head coach Tom Herman had to say when he addressed the media on Monday afternoon.
Confident starting 22, then who?
There’s no hiding it, Herman is quite confident in his starters on both sides of the ball. He made that loud and clear Monday morning.
“I think our starting 22 could play with anybody in the country,” Herman said. “Would we win every game? I didn’t say that. We can play if we play to our abilities with anybody in the country.”
However, there’s also no hiding the elephant in the room: Texas’ severe lack of depth.
“I’m concerned about our depth, I am,” Herman said. “Whether that means we have championship or top-25 talent, I think was the question, maybe in the starting 22. But certainly not top to bottom, as you would like.”
Depth chart, for “today”
Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele’s name read atop Texas’ 2017 depth chart, officially naming him the Longhorns’ starting quarterback — for now.
Despite the newly released depth chart, Herman is not straying away from what he’s said all month.
“Shane is the starter today,” Herman said. “We’ll know more towards the end of the week. But if we were to play today, Shane would play the whole game as long as he’s playing well.”
Herman continues to leave the door cracked for freshman Sam Ehlinger, but Buechele is set to start Saturday against Maryland.
Neither sophomore running back Kyle Porter nor junior Chris Warren III won the starting role at running back outright. Expect to see Porter and Warren split time in the backfield.
Lessons from the locker room
The anticipation continues to build as Saturday approaches, but the answer that caught most people’s attention had nothing to do with what will unfold Saturday.
When asked what the sport of football means, Herman chose to highlight a lesson he believes society as a whole can learn from.
“It’s the melting pot, right?” Herman said. “We don’t see color. We don’t see wealth status. We don’t see religion. We don’t see anything in the locker room. All we see is, do you got my back or not? Can I trust you? It doesn’t matter black, white, brown, Asian, poor, rich, Christian, Muslim, none of it matters in the locker room.”
The depth chart is set. Now, one of the only questions left is performance. How will the team perform in front of thousands of fans — many of them equipped with the expectation of a dramatic improvement.
Not many people think this team will come out playing tight. Most teams under Herman don’t. The term “fun” has even been thrown around, but don’t be mistaken, that means winning too.
“They understand that we’ll be able to cut it loose and play the way that we’re trained to play and have a good time doing it, but in order to really have fun on Saturday, we got to win.”