AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Longhorns are facing the most important four-game stretch of the season. The players know it. The fans know it.
Texas is hoping the bye week and some healthy players will get the defense going again after two losses in the last three games. Texas closes the season with two home games and two road games starting with No. 20 Kansas State Saturday at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Longhorns defeated Kansas State in Manhattan 19-14 last season in Bill Snyder’s final season as the Wildcats head coach. Here comes Chris Klieman chucking away the perception that K State needed a rebuild.
In his first year, Klieman is leading a surging team that’s riding high on three straight victories including an upset of Oklahoma.
Kansas State and Texas aren’t that far apart in ideology. They want to be the most physical team on the field. The Wildcats do that with a running game built to control the clock.
Texas head coach Tom Herman met with the media Monday to breakdown the match-up with the Wildcats.
“Refreshing to have the open week where it was. I know our players got to get away go home. Gave them Friday after classes and Saturday and had a late check-in on Sunday. You could tell some of the young guys had really hit a wall…to be able to take a deep breath and regroup for this stretch run was timely. We had a chance to get guys healthy.”
Jeffrey McCulloch- hasn’t practiced yet (hoping to practice later this week)
B.J. Foster- probable
DeMarvion Overshown- cleared to practice (shoulder)
Caden Sterns- probable (practiced last week)
Jordan Whittington- probable (practiced last week)
On Kansas State:
“Excited about Kansas State coming in…a team that’s right there in the hunt. We’re going to have two teams in Austin with a lot to play for. I know our guys are extremely excited to be home and extremely excited to fix the things that ailed us and going out there and putting up a good impressive victory.”
On tough evaluation during bye week:
“The tenor was that there is a level of expectation at the University of Texas in all three phases and we’re not achieving that. We’re not firing on all cylinders. It’s our job to figure out why. There was a deep dive into what can we do really well with the players that we have for the last several weeks.”
On improved health on defense expected to make a difference:
“I have the expectation that if you play in the football game…you’re going to go out and play to the standard that’s expected of you.”
On focus for the final stretch of regular season:
“Going 1-0 against Kansas State. I honestly needed to ask somebody…I don’t know if you think it’s an act. I had to ask someone who we play after Kansas State because I don’t know. It’s irrelevant.”
On Kansas State offense and quarterback:
“I think Skylar Thompson is actually really thriving in this new offensive system. When you see them, they’re going to play with fullbacks…you think it’s this old school offense. It’s not…it’s kind of fun to watch. It will challenge our defense being that it’s the first of its kind. He’s like most quarterbacks in this league. He’s the gas that makes the engine go. They line up in these big packages…yet they’re in the (shot)gun. It’s very unique in what they do in terms of a scheme stand point, things we haven’t seen. It’s nice to have the two weeks to prepare for a very talented quarterback.”
Working on relationships with players during bye week:
“It was a nice opportunity for me. I think I still have two or three to go from the 2019 class. Had their coaches cut up a 10-20 play reel and really coach. It was really good to reacquaint myself with those guys. All of those guys are in great spirits. It’s a very personal decision if a player should come in January and graduate early. It’s a much different mindset compared to a guy that gets here in June.”
“We’ve got to continue to foster the relationships between our older guys and younger guys. I asked our leadership council yesterday…how many of you guys live on campus. It’s the older guys job…they’ve got precious time with the young guys.”
On looking inward at tendencies during bye week:
“There’s a lot of self scout…we’re constantly trying to do that. In this game, you never want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. You also want to change it so you’re not a sitting target.”
“There is no confidence shaken. There are a lot of reasons why these guys haven’t been that. We just give them the tools to chop away. I thought we had a great bye week practices…awesome, awesome. I don’t think anyone’s oblivious the long term goal of competing for our conference championship. We left the margin very slim and that’s OK. We know we’re on the ropes. You can do one of two things…fight the ropes or tell your trainer to throw in the towel. It’s been a really good week and a half.”
Sense opponent’s confidence:
“I don’t know if you can get in their head. If they’re not confident, they should be. They’re playing really good complimentary football. I don’t know what their psyche is as a team but I do know they’re playing well on all sides of the ball.”
On decision-making of Sam Ehlinger, confidence shaken after interceptions:
“No issues. I had an issue with one throw. He had one bad throw. The throw on the sideline to Jared Wiley, he should’ve thrown that one away. He’s fine. You hate to see those numbers on a stat sheet, but we know the decision-making…aside from the one throw…his decisions were spot on.”
On Caden Sterns:
“Obviously, experience. He’s just like you guys saw most of last season. He has a knack for the football. He doesn’t mind throwing his body around. Extremely smart. Very well-prepared. He’s going to study every tendency and be able to translate those studies to be able to gain a step or half-step.”