When the Longhorns took the field for the first time at Frank Denius Fields for day one of the 2018 preseason camp, head coach Tom Herman was looking for one thing: effort.
It’s one of the few things coaches across the country can accurately analyze as teams go through drills without pads in just shorts, a jersey and a helmet.
After Friday’s practice, Herman said he found what he was looking for.
“Really good first day,” Herman said in post-practice media availability. “The veterans really did a good job of coaching the young guys on how to practice and what our expectations are around here. … Obviously it’s day one: a short practice, no pads on, so I’m not going to glean a whole lot other than a guy’s effort and intensity, and I thought that was to our expectations.
Effort doesn’t seem hard to come by, but it wasn’t this simple at this point last season. Herman said he is having to coach effort “much less” compared to his first preseason camp.
“I’m coaching much more football than I was last year,” Herman said. “It’s refreshing, to be honest with you. We're not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. Our culture needs to be reconfirmed from time to time, but … much less than it was at this point last year.”
Here are more highlights from day one:
Longhorns bring out padded helmets
Throughout the first practice, there was a noticeable difference in that a handful of players wore padding on their helmets. Herman later told the media that this is an attempt to prevent concussions for linebackers and offensive and defensive linemen.
“There is some science out there — a lot of the big guys’ concussions come (from) repetitive blows,” Herman said. “They’re not high-impact, high-speed blows to the head, but it's a repetitive thing. More and more schools are going to those pads in practice just to soften those repetitive blows.”
Herman said the linemen and linebackers will wear the helmet padding at every practice throughout the season.
Texas shortens practice for day one
The first practice of preseason camp concluded a little more than 15 minutes earlier than planned, and this was for more than one reason.
“We did a lot of research over the offseason in terms of sports science,” Herman said. “We’ve got a fantastic new sports science guy. We’re very calculated in the length of practice.”
Herman also gave thanks to the NCAA for allowing a 110-player roster for fall camp — a five-player increase from previous seasons.
“We were actually able to go back-to-back huddles when we went 7-on-7 and team, so we got a ton of reps in a short amount of time,” Herman said. “As long as we stay healthy, we will continue to do that.”
Herman doesn’t entertain preseason poll
The preseason Coaches Poll released Thursday pinned the Longhorns at No. 21 after going 7–6 last season. Other ranked teams from the Big 12 include Oklahoma (No. 5), TCU (No. 16), West Virginia (No. 20) and Oklahoma State (No. 25).
While people across the country break down the top-25 rankings team-by-team, Herman has no interest in entertaining discussion of the preseason poll.
“The only one that matters is the one at the end,” Herman said.
Texas will return to Frank Denius Fields on Saturday morning for day two.