From the first-quarter suspensions of Texas Longhorns senior cornerbacks Kris Boyd and Davante Davis to the late-game antics of senior defensive end Breckyn Hager to head coach Tom Herman’s outburst in response to Boyd’s lash-back at ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho’s comments, it was quite a drama-filled weekend.
On Thursday, Herman announced that Boyd and Davis would miss at least the first series for showing up late to a team function, along with junior wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. However, on Friday night, Herman and the rest of the staff decided to suspend Boyd and Davis for the entire first quarter since they had been late multiple times.
Texas went on to give up 260 yards and 17 points defensively in a first quarter that cratered hopes of winning in Stillwater. Critics of the decision by Herman and his staff emerged, including Acho.
However, Herman defended his choices on Monday.
“You know, it doesn’t matter if we were playing week one or week ten or who the opponent is, or if it was Oklahoma State or Oklahoma or Tulsa or San Jose State,” Herman said. “I mean, we have standards to uphold and when those standards aren’t met, there’s consequences for that.
“You know, everybody in our program knows that. We don’t love them any less. When you ground your kid, it doesn’t mean you love them any less. It doesn’t mean your feelings have changed for them.
“We love Kris Boyd and we love Davante Davis and we love LJ Humphrey, absolutely. They made a minor mistake that, you know, has to be reinforced. Our culture needs to be reinforced on a daily basis, so that moving forward, especially our young guys know that it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what your name is.”
The frustration has been building for Hager. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has mentioned it several times this fall — the fiery senior has been getting close to making plays, but just hasn’t made as many as he expects.
As a sophomore, he had 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Last season, he emerged as the Lightning package defensive end to notch nine tackles for loss and four sacks.
Despite the fact that Orlando has moved him around move this season, Hager only has six tackles for loss and one sacks.
The frustration boiled over on Saturday. Hager was chirpy early with Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill on several plays, injured his clavicle during the game, and then struggled to finish plays.
By the end, he was engaged in another verbal exchange with a Cowboys player and ended up causing a small altercation when Oklahoma State took a knee in victory formation.
There's a lot going on in the game clinching unsportsmanlike penalties on Texas pic.twitter.com/0X69WGZhsG— CFB Gif'er (@CFBgifer) October 28, 2018
Not a good look.
The exchange sparked Mike Gundy to come onto the field in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, but Herman thought that Gundy was going after Hager, which resulted in Herman storming the field and exchanging some words with Gundy.
Things appear to be getting feisty in Stillwater. pic.twitter.com/cKYhC0Visv— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) October 28, 2018
Gundy walked off exhorting his fans to make more noise.
“I thought Mike [Gundy] had come out and was having words with one of our players. I took exception to that.,” Herman said after the game. “When I shook his hand at the end he said ‘Hey I was just trying to make sure we were smart and no fight ensued.’ I believe him, we smiled. We go way back, and I have no issues. He told me what he was trying to do. I saw it differently at first, and I was going to go defend my player.”
The two coaches cleared things up during the post-game handshake, as Herman explained, but Texas senior tight end Andrew Beck publicly expressed his disappointment with Hager.
Beck on Hager losing his mind at the end of the game: That’s not us. That’s not this program. I love Breckyn to death. Y’all know, I live with him. But I’m disappointed in him and I’ll tell him that to his face. That’s not the way we want this program to be. He’s better than that— Nick Moyle (@NRMoyle) October 28, 2018
While Herman said that even his 88-year-old grandmother knows not to act like Hager did at the end of the game, he also said that he didn’t have any real concerns about what Beck said or what it might mean for the team going forward.
“When it’s things like that — and he’s asked — I mean, I’m not encouraging our guys to go seek out to criticize your teammate, but when you’re asked a direct question, honest, open communication is the only way to go about it.
“Disappointed is a lot different word than mad at or ex-communicated from. You ask the question, were you disappointed? Yeah, I was disappointed. But they are roommates. They live together. I don’t think there’s any bad blood or anything like that. You know, we instruct our guys — when you’re asked a question, answer it honestly.”
And that means Beck saying that Hager is better than that. Unfortunately, on Saturday Hager was not better than that.
The drama and discussion surrounding Boyd’s suspension and subsequent poor play reached a pinnacle when his Instagram post firing back at Acho began to circulate.
“Keep running your ****ing mouth,” Boyd wrote. “Don’t show up around this facility. You was warned at practice...Running your mouth further than your football career took you...”
Herman was asked about the incident, which was magnified by Boyd’s ill-advised halftime retweet in 2015 and his Saturday suspension.
“Not concern,” Herman said. “I think it was more, it was an ill-advised attempt to actually prove that the only people whose opinions really matter are the ones in the team meeting room and in the locker room.
“Yeah, we talked about it, and again, you know, you want to silence any critic, the best way to do that is keep your mouth shut and go play really good (emphasis added). And again, why — if you’re concerned about the critics, then you’ve probably got bigger issues.
“So we did talk about that but again, I think it was Kris’s ill-advised way to kind of show everybody that the only people whose opinions matter are his teammates and coaches. So, it was a learning moment.”