While students pile in from far and wide onto the Forty Acres, Texas’ players took a break from the practice field in preparation for their season debut. With game day right around the corner, head coach Tom Herman faced the media Monday and answered questions on what to expect before Louisiana Tech.
“We’ve had a really, really good training camp,” Herman said. “I feel like our team has developed. I know our team chemistry has developed a lot, and these guys enjoy being around one another. It’s as close of a team that I have ever been around.”
Here are highlights from Herman’s Monday pressed as Texas’ season opening approaches.
Injuries sideline four for season opener
Herman opened Monday’s press conference announcing that four Longhorn players would not be playing on Saturday’s game.
Running backs Kirk Johnson, Jarrett Smith, Daniel Young and offensive lineman Reese Moore are all sidelined for Louisiana Tech due to injury. Junior Young was sidelined due to a high ankle sprain injury and senior Johnson has been out with a serious shoulder injury.
Though Texas is adding four more players to their injured reserve, Herman confirmed senior offensive lineman Zach Shackelford was back in pads for Sunday’s practice.
“(He) practiced full yesterday, obviously today is an off day,” Herman said. “So I would imagine he’d be ready to go Tuesday.”
Questions continued mounting about the state of the team’s offense, and Herman had some answers. Texas’ running back issues remain a hot topic, with freshman Jordan Whittington and sophomore Keaontay Ingram being the only viable options.
“(The) level of concern is high,” Herman said. “They’re our only two. In practice, they’re in green jerseys, they’re not in contact right now. I don’t think the refs will let me put them in green jerseys during the game. So, we need them, they’ve got to go.”
Offensive picture still hazy
Along with running backs, Texas is also dealing with sophomore Joshua Moore’s misdemeanor weapons charge. Joshua, who was arrested and charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon, is suspended for Louisiana Tech. The length of the suspension is unknown.
“We’re gathering information, we’re hoping the legal process is concluded soon, but I’ll have to update on Monday because things could change,” said Herman about Joshua’s case.
On the offensive line, Herman stated during camp he was confident in six linemen, but unsure of the others. He has yet to decide which five faces fans will see on Saturday.
“We haven’t decided yet, but it’ll be some combination of Sam Cosmi, Zach Shackelford, Junior Angilau, Derek Kerstetter, Denzel Okafor (and) Parker Braun,” Herman said.
Texas players will blend into the crowd of students returning to classes Wednesday for the upcoming school year. Though players on the University of Florida and the University of Miami’s rosters already had their season debut, Texas was not afforded that luxury.
Herman reached out to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and asked how to balance practices with school work.
“I remember asking coach Swinney at Clemson, ‘What do you do? Every year our practice on the first day of classes is not real good,’” Herman said. “He goes, ‘I never practice on the first day of classes.’”
Following the first day of school, Texas players will be given hours to acclimate to their new schedules before returning to the field at dusk.