As recent weeks have revealed, the Texas Longhorns (5-3, 3-2) are working through their fair share if issues entering the final month of the regular season.
The two most glaring issues are the seemingly unending list of injuries, which has most notably impacted a secondary unit that has become the team’s Achilles heel as of late. Things should begin to look up to each end, as the returns of Caden Sterns, Jalen Green, B.J. Foster, and DeMarvion Overshown from various injuries following the bye week will see Texas field its healthiest and most talented secondary since the Big 12 opener.
Yet, just as the Longhorns seem to be enjoying a bit of luck with one key issue, which will directly impact and benefit the other, it appears that Texas has another issue on its hands.
“Relationships,” Herman said when asked what Texas was working on during its bye week.
Specifically, Herman referenced the gap in communication between the Horns’ upperclassmen and underclassmen.
“I think there’s, you know, we’ve got a lot of older veterans and a lot of young guys and we’ve got to find some of those bridge guys from the older group to the younger group,” Herman said. “Last year when Andrew Beck spoke, people listened and the reason why was because we had a sophomore named Sam Ehlinger that could relate to all the younger guys.”
This issue isn’t too surprising given the class discrepancy on the Texas roster, which has only been exacerbated by injuries.
Last week during their loss to TCU, the Longhorns’ two-deep featured as many freshmen as it did upperclassmen (15). The discrepancy was even more mind-boggling on defense, as Todd Orlando’s group went to Fort Worth with only four healthy upperclassmen in the two-deep, thanks in large part to the aforementioned injuries issue that has sidelined starters and key contributors such as senior Rover linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, and junior defensive backs Chris Brown and Josh Thompson.
In any case, the Texas roster is what it is at this point, and though the returns of Sterns, Green, Foster, and Overshown should almost certainly lead to improved results, they, too, are underclassmen.
So, as Herman noted, he’s aiming to bright guys to connect that gap between the upperclassmen and underclassmen.
To that end, Herman said he’s talked to sophomore starters Joseph Ossai, Keaontay Ingram, and Keondre Coburn, as well as redshirt freshman backup guard Junior Angilau about potentially filling that void to “make sure we bridge that gap and that the young guys have the same sense of urgency as the older guys.”
On the surface, it certainly doesn’t seem as if relaying that sense of urgency should be too tall of a task.
If Texas can win each of its four remaining contests, the Horns will be headed back to Arlington, so long as Oklahoma does the same. But even one more loss all but guarantees that Texas watches the Big 12 title game from home, and furthermore solidifies a regression from what appeared to be a turning-point 10-win 2018 season.