The Longhorns are coming off of their first win of 2017 and the Tom Herman era after a 56-0 thrashing of San Jose State at home on Saturday. On Monday, Herman met with the media for his weekly press conference. Here are three notes from his press conference.
Herman still unsure of starting quarterback
Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele is still nursing a bruised throwing shoulder injury he suffered against Maryland. Buechele missed all of practice in the week leading up to the San Jose State game and did not play Saturday. Freshman Sam Ehlinger made his debut for the Longhorns and threw for 222 yards and a touchdown.
Herman said Monday that Buechele is “getting better every day” and that Tuesday’s practice will be “a big benchmark” for the status of his health. But Herman made it clear that Buechele won’t just be given the starting job back.
“If Shane’s healthy, he’s got to go prove that he’s also competent in practice, just like any other week,” Herman said. “If Shane can throw (Tuesday) and is fully cleared, then he’s gonna go with the ones, but he’s got to obviously have a really good practice to make sure that he stays with the ones on Wednesday.”
If Buechele can’t play for a second-consecutive game, Ehlinger will be called upon again. Herman praised Ehlinger for stepping up during Buechele’s absence.
“From the day I met him, this is an extremely mature guy,” Herman said. “He’s a bit of an old soul. (He’s) really, really mature for a guy his age and in his position, and I think that’s what has allowed him to step into this role maybe a little bit easier than most.”
Texas gets its first road test this Saturday
Saturday will be the Longhorns’ first road contest this season — and it’s a big one. No. 4 USC is a favorite to make the College Football Playoff.
The last time Texas met USC was in the 2005 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Vince Young led No. 2 Texas to a 41-38 upset win over Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and No. 1 USC — which at the time snapped the Trojans’ 34-game winning streak.
The Longhorns are 15.5-point underdogs against the Trojans on Saturday. Herman was asked if the Longhorns are mentally ready for such a big matchup.
“We’ll find out Saturday,” Herman said. “I feel like they will be. We’re not gonna leave any stone unturned. We’ll be in as good a place mentally as we can be. I have confidence that they’ll respond. They showed me a lot last week with how they responded, and now we’ve gotta take yet another step in maturing to be able to beat a top-five team on the road.”
Longhorns prepare for Sam Darnold
Herman, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and the Texas defense will have their hands full on Saturday night when the Longhorns face sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold is widely heralded as the best quarterback in college football and a potential No. 1 draft pick in 2018.
“The things that impress me are the things that concern me since we’re playing against him,” Herman said. “Really football-smart guy, can make every throw in the book, really can from all different kinds of arm angles. I think when you see him and you see his stature you think, ‘Oh, this guy can’t run.’ The guy can run, and he’s pretty elusive.”