All head coach Tom Herman had to do was blow his whistle. After Texas’ first day of spring football came to a conclusion, Herman spoke very highly of his team’s effort and energy level throughout the day — with one exception.
“I think we called one young guy back, and there were a lot of older guys that weren’t happy with that young guy,” Herman said. “It put a smile on my face … and really, all I had to do was blow the whistle and say his name. The leaders of this group got on him pretty good. That’s how you know when you’re heading in the right direction.”
Aside from the praise Herman gave his team for the intensity of the practice, he still acknowledged that Tuesday afternoon was just that — the first day of spring practice. The Longhorns could be seen practicing in shorts, jerseys and helmets. No pads.
“I mean, this isn’t football,” Herman said. “I still don’t know why we have to go out there and play without safety equipment. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
Here’s what we learned after the pad-less first day of spring football:
Herman impressed by new kids on the block
Despite the obstacle of having to assess his team without pads, Herman was still able to say who impressed him after day one: freshmen quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Cameron Rising.
“The two quarterbacks — the young quarterbacks,” Herman said. “They didn’t look out of place, which was good. Obviously they screwed their fair share of things up, but they looked like they belonged.”
Herman confirmed that junior quarterback Shane Buechele is, in fact, 100 percent healthy Monday afternoon. That means all four quarterbacks will have their shot at earning the starting job this spring and heading into the summer. But it wasn’t just the freshmen quarterbacks he was impressed with.
“I would say all the young guys — all the newcomers. Again, somebody asked me yesterday — they exceeded expectations, and they did so as well today on the field.”
Playing without Poona
One of the biggest question marks heading into the spring is how defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will get his defense shaped up after losing leaders including Malik Jefferson, DeShon Elliott, Holton Hill and especially Poona Ford.
Herman didn’t shy away when asked about how much this defensive line will miss Ford, not just during game time but at practice throughout the entirety of the week.
“I would be doing Poona and his contribution to this program an injustice if I didn’t say we were concerned about replacing him,” Herman said. “That guy, as I told you numerous times last year, is probably one of the hardest practicing defensive lineman I’ve ever seen. Obviously it showed on game day. He’s a Big 12 defensive lineman of the year.”
Spring football questions
With the first practice coming to an end, there wasn’t a plethora of additional information available from Herman’s presser on Monday afternoon. However, throughout the 15-minute media availability Tuesday afternoon, Herman spent more time than usual thinking about the answer to one question: What is your favorite board game?
Herman took a few moments to decide.
“Trivial Pursuit,” Herman said. “I love board games. Can I say Candy Land, actually? I’m actually probably better at Candy Land.”
As spring practice unfolds, look for both sides of the ball to fill in the gaps left from last year, for position battles to intensify and for Herman to have more non-board game questions to answer.