AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Longhorns face a difficult challenge this week in an attempt to wash away the loss against the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday at the Red River Showdown.
The Kansas Jayhawks are coming to Austin for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawks, under new head coach Les Miles, are 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12 as the perennial worst team in the conference. that will biggest challenge. Texas head coach Tom Herman must force his team to avoid the past failures and focus on a lesser opponent which is sometimes difficult to do after a loss to a bitter rival.
The Longhorns survived in Lawrence last season with a sleepy 24-17 win to clinch its spot in the Big 12 title game.
The Jayhawks appear to be packing a little more punch this season, but have lost their last two games by a margin of 96-34 against TCU and OU, respectively.
Tom Herman met with the media Monday to take a closer look at Kansas.
“The sun came up which is always a good thing. Our guys were eager to get back to work. Good energy at practice. Obviously, there’s a lot of things we can learn from and improve on. Our biggest goal…we have completely turned the page. Our sole focus, which it should be, is on Kansas.”
Chris Brown- forearm fracture (out six weeks)
Collin Johnson- still evaluated
Jeffrey McCulloch- dislocated shoulder (out several weeks)
Juwan Mitchell- sprained elbow (monitor as week progresses)
On missed tackles against OU
“They were glaring. Really good athletes, we’ve got good athletes too that need to tackle better. Even though we weren’t in pads yesterday…there’s still tackling things we can do. We’ll tackle live in practice tomorrow. So banged up…defensively, it was not a great decision on my part to limit the tackling these last few weeks in practice and it showed. We’re going to have to find a way to keep our guys healthy but improve in that area.”
What is fixable on defense?
“Everything is fixable. We knew we had to play more one-high defense against their offense based on them being able to attack the field. When you do that, you’ve got to contain the quarterback and we did not do a good job of that. We knew it was an area of concern going in, it’s 100% fixable. Continued reinforcement of the details.”
Big picture on defensive improvement:
“Get better, improve, develop. With all the young guys playing, we’ve got to simplify it moving forward not that we haven’t tried these last couple of weeks. A couple base-zone coverages, a couple blitzes, we’ve got to let our guys play fast, play fearless and unafraid to make mistakes. We’ve got to be able to get those guys to play fast and the only way to do that is that their 100% sure in what they’re doing.”
The why on special teams/field position issues
“Decision making, certainly special teams, there’s not a guy back there that we would want to have than Devin Duvernay. I think he would admittedly say he got caught up in the moment and tried to make a play. We’ve got to make better decisions and the best way to learn is by doing and he certainly understands…not that he didn’t before, but he understands the magnitude…those things changed his mindset.”
Big picture on the result against OU:
“Defensively, we didn’t play aggressive as we could’ve…some uncertainty in some key spots. There was a bit of a frustration that set in offensively that caused some adverse effects. We had 3 points and 86 yards of offense in the first half…although it certainly didn’t look like a well-oiled machine, we scored three touchdowns in the second half.”
On lack of sacks/pressure on Jalen Hurts:
“We got to the quarterback quite a bit. We got an interception…we got our hands on him quite a bit. Slippery dude back there, we got to him but we didn’t bring him down.”
What did you learn from team after loss
“We had a leadership meeting last night. The guys are in a great place. The thing about this rivalry game…we play it in the middle of the season. You better be able to bounce back if it doesn’t go your way. Learn from it certainly. It’s never a failure if you learn from your mistakes and you improve. I really like the way they came out and practiced yesterday.
What did you learn from coaching staff:
“I felt like we could make some adjustments. I learned that our kids play really hard for their coaches. I learned that there’s no finger pointing when adversity hits. Our guys come together, they rally for their coaches and that was encouraging to see.”
Biggest negative from game:
“How we played offensively. We had been able to carry our young defense for most of the season by playing really sound, explosive offense and we didn’t. That was discouraging…the execution on that side of the ball.”
Biggest positive from game:
“Our red zone defense continues to play well. We got two turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over. Our third down offense continues to be pretty good. Discouraged on the way we played on offense as a whole.”
On rebounding from game:
“There is zero sense of panic. There is zero sense of whoa is me. There is zero sense that our issues are unfixable. The things that we did do poorly we have shown at times to do well. We’ve got to coach our guys to play with a level of consistency…especially against top five opponents. We’ve got to play with that kind of consistency.”
On absences on defense:
“You figure it out. We’ll figure it out this week. Guys that are in our program for a reason. We feel like we recruited them because they have that ability level. The urgency to ramp up some of these guys development is certainly there. There’s no other option. There really is not. We’re going to get the guys and coach them to the best of our abilities. We’ve got put 11 out there and the 11 is going to be the best that Texas has to offer”
On taking the next step:
“Resiliency, there were plenty of times where there could’ve been a lot of finger pointing. I know that certainly has and could’ve happen to a lot of teams. It’s a close group of guys and they love each other. I think that’s the biggest takeaway…we’ve got a lot of guys that are committed and compelled.”
Level of anger from the game:
“None other than at myself. It was the first time that I can remember that we got out-physicaled on both sides of the ball. That’s not us. I’m obviously disappointed in the way that the game unfolded and the way that we played. I’m not going to get angry at the kids. I’ll coach the coaches. If there’s anyone to be angry at it’s me. Obviously, I didn’t do enough to get the guys playing at a level that we need them to play.”