Saturday, April 15th, Coach Herman and the Longhorns made their 2017 debut. Following the exit of previous Head Coach, Charlie Strong, Longhorn fans had their sights set on Saturday afternoon’s match-up as the first indication of what’s to come. Below are 8 things from the spring game that should get you excited for September:
1) Sudden Death Finish
At the end of regulation, the offense (white) and defense (orange) were tied 51-51 (Herman’s non-traditional scoring system rewarded teams for things like explosive plays, defensive stops, touchdowns, as well as, deducted points for plays such as sacks and fumbles) . Herman immediately signaled for what would be the final play at the 2 yard line. Defense stood strong and stopped the offense just before the goal line to secure their victory.
Longhorn fans who witnessed this scoring arms race should be encouraged by the outcome. This Texas team showed that their strengths lie on both sides of the ball.
2) Shane Buechele
For the second spring game in-a-row, Sophomore QB Shane Buechele stole the show. Throwing 22-39 and totaling 369 yards with 2 TDs and 1 rushing TD of his own, Buechele gave Longhorn fans exactly what they wanted to see.
Freshman QB Sam Ehlinger showed his ability as well with perfectly thrown TD pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the second half.
In the post-game press conference, Herman notes that he won’t be naming a starter at QB anytime soon because he believes it puts healthy pressure on both Buechele and Ehlinger.
3) Alumni Presence
Notable alumni in attendance: Brian Orakpo, Jackson Jeffcoat, Aaron Ross, Cory Redding, Marquise Goodwin, Derrick Johnson, Tim Crowder, Jordan Shipley, Michael Griffin, Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Michael Huff, and Emmanuel Acho.
Longhorn fans should pay attention to that list because it indicates that not only have the current players bought into the culture that Herman is building, but former players are buying in as well.
Longhorn fans can rest easy knowing that this Texas defense will be a feared force in the Big 12 come the fall. Not only did they walk away with the win, but some of the projected anchors to the Texas defense (Malcolm Roach, Poona Ford, Malik Jefferson, Chris Nelson) made their presence known on Saturday.
Malik Jefferson was credited with the goal-line stop in sudden death to give defense the victory.
5) No Injuries
At the beginning of his post-game press conference, the first thing Herman commented on was that he was happy to see no injuries resulting from that afternoon’s match-up. Following the news of Herman’s strict hydration chart, which focused on injury prevention, its possible that Longhorn fans have seen the first instance of that hydration paying off.
6) Collin Johnson
Standing at 6’6″, 215 lbs, and a massive wingspan, Collin Johnson’s performance on Saturday should get Longhorn fans excited for his campaign this season. Totaling 8 catches for 117 yds and 2 TDs, Johnson had a stand-out performance.
With both receiving TDs coming from Buechele, there is promise of great things to come from this dynamic duo.
1-0. A phrase posted on almost every wall of the football complex, serves as a reminder for Herman and his team to take it one day at a time, one win at a time. As Herman notes, they have a long way to go before contending for the Big 12 title on a consistent basis, but Longhorn fans should feel optimistic seeing the mindset and culture that Herman has instilled in his first couple of months on the Forty Acres.
For the past 5 or 6 years, the fan attendance at the annual spring game has been quite dismal. Going into Saturday, Herman set his expectations low. Glancing up from his clipboard was a pleasant shock for Herman to see that DKR was poppin’. Although it wasn’t a sold out crowd like teams, like Ohio State, have had in the past, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. In the coming years, Herman doesn’t want there to be an empty seat in the house.
It’s time to buy in Longhorn fans, the Herman era has begun.