The Longhorns may not be flying high after their last-second 27-24 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday, but team confidence has taken a considerable leap for a Texas team in danger of sputtering.
Though the win showed the Longhorns are moving in a positive direction, Herman knows it’ll take more to get his team off the ropes.
“Again, part of being on the ropes is you don't get off of 'em with one game, just one win,” Herman said. “But to beat a top-25 team the way that we did … getting the ball back with 6:45 on the clock and ending the game with double zeros and a win showed a lot of fortitude by our players.”
Texas’ setbacks have derived from their injured reserve, which houses some of Texas’ best defensive players. This past Saturday, sophomore defensive backs Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster played together under the lights of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the first time since week two and added much-needed depth to Texas’ secondary. This week, a slew of healthy players will join the Texas roster while others join the injured reserve.
Sophomore defensive back DeMarvion Overshown has been cleared but is still dealing with back pain while senior linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch is progressing daily with his shoulder injury. Junior defensive back Chris Brown was cleared on Friday and will return Saturday against Iowa State. Herman said he will play with a cast and adds confidence to Texas’ defense and special teams.
The Longhorns don’t have captains on special teams, but standout leaders hold a similar title as “field generals.” Brown’s performance on special teams catapulted himself into a starting defensive position before his injury, and he stands as a player Herman can’t wait to have back.
“Before (Brown) got injured … he was the leader of the special forces unit. (He) obviously had worked himself into being a starter on defense, really, because of the value early in our tenure here that he provided on special teams,” Herman said.
As Texas continues to reassemble their defensive pieces, the offense is now dealing with a few injuries. Senior wide receiver Collin Johnson tweaked his hamstring on Texas’ last drive on Saturday and is being aggressively treated for it in preparation for the Cyclones. Freshman offensive lineman Junior Angilau is out with an MCL injury and will be week-to-week. Herman’s best-case scenario is seeing Angilau on the field a week after Iowa State.
At the start of the season, running back issues dominated the headlines due to injury. Now in week 12, Texas’ running back depth is solid and will be boosted by freshman running back Jordan Whittington, who has been cleared to play after being out with a sports hernia injury. All that’s left is getting Whittington loose for Saturday.
Texas’ season is quickly coming to a close, with only three games left in regular game play. Now heading into Cyclone territory, Herman is happy with his team’s progression this season but knows the difficulties that come with playing at another school. Yet, this will not stop the Longhorns.
“I think playing complementary football the way we did, to be able to beat Kansas State the way we did in terms of time of possession and running the football and stopping the run is exciting,” Herman said. “It's harder to win on the road. That's why they call it a home field advantage. But it's not something we lower our expectations because of.”