If you ask Texas fans who this season’s signal caller should be, some will say to roll the dice with sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Others will say to stick with the more experienced junior, Shane Buechele.
If you ask head coach Tom Herman, he’ll leave you with more questions than answers.
On the second day of Big 12 Media Days, Herman walked up to the stage in front of the press and quickly addressed what is perhaps the team’s biggest position battle.
“I feel like the two older guys in Buechele and Ehlinger really improved like we asked them to,” Herman said. “With Sam, it was tightening his release up a little bit. He worked his tail off and he made some throws this spring that I hadn't seen him make in the year that we have been around him.”
Ehlinger played in nine games for the Longhorns last season. Buechele played the same number of games, with the starting decision often coming down to which quarterback was injury-free on a given week.
“For Shane, it was to take charge of the offense,” Herman said. “To be a vocal leader and to not just be a passive participant in each play but to be the … conductor of the orchestra, and he really improved in that area.”
With a wide-open race still on the table, though, questions shifted toward the team’s play caller.
Herman said that no decisions have been cemented yet regarding the capacity of offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s play-calling decisions. However, he instead discussed the hold he has over them.
“I have always been very intimately involved in the play-calling on game day,” Herman said. “There isn't a play that's called that I don't have veto power of, and so, you know, I think the true measure of an offense and its efficiency is one, the talent that he is on the field, certainly.”
While Herman may be keeping his cards close at this point in the summer, in his opening remarks, he quickly acknowledged the administration's attempts to put the necessary pieces in place for the second-year head coach to succeed.
“I firmly believe that coaches and players win games, and administrations win championships,” Herman said. “I believe that in Greg Fenves and Chris Del Conte and their teams and staffs that we do have a championship administration.”
Herman didn’t hold his poker face through the entire news conference, however. In what appeared to be a moment of sincerity, Herman was asked how much star power is on this Texas team. Herman paused. Several seconds later, he said, “Some.”
Some interpreted this response as a lack of confidence in his program; others simply viewed it as an honest response to a tough question. Moments after the conference concluded, Herman was asked why there were only a select few players who opted to transfer from the program.
Again, Herman took his time before giving his answer.
“They’re happy. They understand, man,” Herman said. “They understand that the definition of insanity is repeatedly performing the same acts expecting different results. … Our program is as hard as there is ... It is. But when you’re happy, when you like your bosses, your coaches, it doesn't matter how hard it is because you’re having a good time doing something you love.”
Going into this week, very little new information was expected from the Texas program. With fall camp still a few weeks away, it still appears to be a waiting game when it comes the largest questions surrounding the Longhorns.
The first day of practice is set for Aug. 3.