Longhorns have penalty problems — a normal issue under Tom Herman

Horns Report

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman said “foolish penalties will be punished” going forward in an effort to curtail the major problem plaguing the team during the 2020 season.

The Longhorns have committed double-digit penalties in three of its first four games. The only game where Texas had its penalty problem under control was the season opener against UTEP.

Since the 59-3 win over the Miners, Texas has been called for 10, 12 and 10 penalties in its Big 12 games. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is.

Herman and the Longhorns said they’re using this open date on the schedule to focus within and to fix the issues that are fixable. However, given Herman’s history at Texas, the penalty problem doesn’t seem very fixable.

The Longhorns rank 72nd in total penalties out of 76 Football Bowl Subdivision teams currently playing in 2020. To take it one step further, the Longhorns have ranked near the bottom in penalties per game every year during Herman’s four-year tenure at Texas.

Texas – penalties per game national rankings

  • 2020: 72nd (9.5 penalties per game)
  • 2019: 115th (7.3 penalties per game)
  • 2018: 109th (7.4 penalties per game)
  • 2017: 107th (7.1 penalties per game)

Most coaches will say there are types of penalties they can live with. Texas isn’t committing those kinds of penalties in 2020.

In back-to-back weeks, foolish or minute procedural penalties have derailed explosive plays for the Longhorns offense—taking surefire points off the board in some circumstances.

Last weekend, Longhorns offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter was whistled for a personal foul in the second quarter after quarterback Sam Ehlinger was tackled at OU’s two-yard line. Instead of a fourth-and-one near the Sooners goal line, the Longhorns were backed up to the 17 and settled for the field goal. Kerstetter’s action was a quick moment where he lost his head, but his decision likely cost Texas a touchdown.

“Some come from an over exuberance of trying to do too much, some come from a lack of attention to detail. They all need to be addressed singularly. Guys that commit foolish penalties will be punished. It’s the only thing left that we know how to do… we’ve educated, we’ve pleaded until we’re blue in the face,” Herman said on Monday.

For a team that appears to be destined to play a close game every week, those penalties are the difference between winning and losing.

This trend didn’t follow Herman from his days at Houston. The Cougars played fairly clean football during the 2015 and 2016 seasons while Herman was the head coach. Houston ranked 17th and 61st in penalties per game in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

“We’ve got to play a cleaner brand of football. We’ve got to make sure we’re the exception and not the rule,” Herman said.

In recent years, penalty-filled football has become the rule with the Longhorns.

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