In the early days of Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman’s tenure in Austin, he hasn’t been afraid to provide tough critiques of his players, but he emerged from the third spring practice on Tuesday, the first in pads, with a positive impression of his team’s effort.
“The guys tried,” he said during a media availability. “It was obvious the week off for spring break and the new way of doing things was very taxing to them. They tried to fight through it and I was proud of them for that. We have got to build our football stamina a lot better to be able to sustain a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute practice that should easily fly by, but is now dragging and they are huffing and puffing towards the end. But that will come. It happens every year no matter how much winter conditioning you do.”
Herman has been especially critical of the defensive linemen in recent weeks, calling some of them “fat guys” in his first spring press conference. However, despite his disappointment at their collective poor conditioning, he has been happy with their respective athleticism.
“They still have to get in shape,” he said. “But I am happier with them because I saw them in pads and the one thing I could tell, even in the winter conditioning drills, a lot of them even though their bodies are sloppy, they have a really quick and explosive first step. I saw that a lot today. I was more pleased but they still have to get in shape.”
While there is good depth at that position, there is much less depth at quarterback — it was a potential issue before redshirt sophomore Matthew Merrick gave up football on Tuesday, but it’s now a bigger issue with only two scholarship quarterbacks on campus.
Due to the lack of depth, Herman noted that he and his staff will take a look at the “waiver wire” in an attempt to find an option there. Right now, the only player on the radar is former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, who may visit in early April.
The Texas head coach doesn’t know what type of impact having more experience in the quarterback room would have, saying that he won with JT Barrett as a redshirt freshman and favorably comparing sophomore Shane Buechele and freshman Sam Ehlinger to his former standout in Columbus.
So that’s some positive early news at that position.
The staff also hasn’t altered from the course of keeping junior Jerrod Heard exclusively at wide receiver this spring.
“Jerrod Heard is in the mix too and he would have been anyway,” Herman said. “Not to discourage Matt, but that (Heard) probably would have been a better option had both of those guys gone down anyway. Not this spring.
“We are talking about a scenario where Quarterback A goes out, gets hurt, Quarterback B goes out, gets hurt, alright Jerrod here are the eight plays we have worked on this week get us out of the game and the defense will win the game for us. Then in practice Jerrod is the starting quarterback and we get him up to speed.”