As Quandre Diggs still likes to say, the Texas Longhorns need players with that dog in them.
Senior cornerback Kris Boyd has so much that is was the best analogy head coach Tom Herman could come up with when discussing the former Gilmer standout and 2015 US Army All-American.
“He loves football,” Herman said last week. “Now, there are times, like a hyper dog, you’ve got to yank on the leash every now and then. You’d much rather yank on leashes than kick butts to get them in gear.”
So consider Boyd much closer to a pit bull or a boxer than, say, a lazy English bulldog.
First there’s the aforementioned hyperactivity. Then there’s the loyalty, which isn’t necessarily given easily.
“When you win his heart, he’s as loyal as they come,” Herman said. “I have no doubt that Kris Boyd would take a bullet for Jason Washington, Todd Orlando, myself. He has bought in, jumped in with both feet.”
Or all four paws, perhaps?
If it took the Texas coaching staff some time to win Boyd’s heart, a subject for debate that Herman hasn’t publicly addressed, it certainly took some time to coax the needed consistency out of the massively-talented cornerback.
A few tugs on the leash, one might say.
One critical way the coaches did that was by taking up a little bit of that tension on the leash to figure out where Boyd’s feet were going and where his eyes were going in the process.
Boyd was struggling to translate his practice success to the field last fall, giving up a long touchdown pass to Oklahoma early in the game when he failed to find the football and then getting his eyes wrong on a long trick play that resulted in a 42-yard pass by Sooners running back Trey Sermon.
Those two plays cost Texas 96 yards and, eventually, 10 points after Oklahoma kicked a field goal following the trick play to take a 20-0 lead.
Making six tackles in the Cotton Bowl provided some level of redemption, but the margin provided by Boyd failing to make those two critical plays ultimately proved to be key separation in a game that came down to the final minutes.
So that week in practice, the staff used a handheld camera to record Boyd on every rep. One thing they wanted to see was where Boyd had his eyes on each play and whether there were any issues with his technique in his lower body. According to Orlando, Washington’s task was “reaching the kid and getting him better.”
Winning his heart to gain that loyalty.
The tactic worked — Boyd recorded 13 tackles (11 solo) against Oklahoma State the next weekend and also broke up two passes in the overtime loss. It was perhaps the most consistent performance of Boyd’s career.
In closing out the regular season against Texas Tech, Boyd arguably topped that performance with six tackles (five solo), five pass break ups, and an interception he returned inside the 10-yard line to set up a nine-yard touchdown run by Daniel Young.
In reducing mistakes and making plays more consistently, Boyd started living up to his potential and stopped making the head-scratching plays that defined so much of his first two and a half seasons on the Forty Acres.
Now Boyd is emerging as a leader in the locker room as he mentors younger cornerbacks on the field. And that’s how Boyd is channeling his inner dog as he attempts to place his name among the greats at DBU.