Texas did just what it needed to do on Saturday, getting in the win column as heavy favorites against San Jose State.
The Longhorns, who received attention throughout the offseason after the addition of defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, generously allowed 51 points in their season-opening loss to Maryland. That wasn’t expected to happen, not in the season-opener.
Herman, along with the majority of the team, seemingly said the same thing in unison, “That wasn’t us.” And they showed it by displaying the stingy side of its defense in the 56-0 shutout against San Jose State, just seven days following their lackluster performance in the season opener.
“They were embarrassed, and they knew that wasn’t them,” head coach Tom Herman said following Texas’ win. “And coach Orlando and his staff put them in a great position, got them right mentally, and hats off to the kids for cutting it loose today and playing really, really aggressive and without hesitation.”
Cutting it loose — a term Herman has used since the beginning of preseason camp — was a key difference in his team’s blowout victory Saturday.
“I told those guys (to) go out there and play as hard as you can, as fast as you can,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “Because we needed this shutout to prove to people that we could actually do it and prove to ourselves that we could do it first.”
Texas’ 56-0 victory should be worth more than etching a one in the win column — it should provide the Longhorns with momentum before heading to southern California on Saturday.
“Momentum is great,” junior wide receiver Jerrod Heard said. “Especially leading into a big game. That’s what all teams look for, is momentum. I feel like that’s a great feeling to have going into an important week.”
The Longhorns will need all the momentum they can get next week. They aren’t facing a Mountain West team anymore. Rather, they’re preparing for a battle with No. 4 USC — at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of an expected sellout crowd.
“We won that game because we played so hard and we’ve got really good players,” Herman said. “ … They like the feeling of improvement and I think they’re proud, too. But they also know we’ve got to go into a hostile environment to play one of the best teams in the country that is playing really, really well right now.”
USC will present Texas with arguably its biggest test of the season, and one question has risen just two weeks into the season: Which team is the real Texas? Is it the Longhorns who lost to Maryland in their season-opener or the Longhorns who shutout San Jose State on Saturday?
Although the Longhorns have another chance to prove who they are on a national stage, Herman doesn’t expect his team to derive any motivation from their week one loss. He isn’t worried about proving anything to anybody except his team.
“I think each game poses its own motivation,” Herman said. “This one is, the motivation is you’re playing one of the best teams in the country, one of the premier teams in the history of college football in the Los Angeles Coliseum. There’s plenty of motivation, regardless of what you want to show or prove to anybody.”