When head coach Tom Herman talked to the team in the locker room following Texas’ 38-35 loss on Saturday, his team was emotional. And he knew it.
So instead of reiterating his 1-0 mantra he usually utilizes to ensure his team maintains its focus, he took a step back and looked at the big picture for the program.
“That was the first time,” senior defensive end Charles Omenihu said of the coach who has refused to look at the big picture nine weeks into the season.
“In the big picture — I told them this is probably the only time we’ll do this, because when you lose a ball game like that you’ve got to have some kind of hope — the hope is actually really bright and the future is really bright,” Herman said.
For Texas, that hope is rooted in the Big 12 standings. The Longhorns currently sit at the top of the Big 12, tied with No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 13 West Virginia.
Now, the Longhorns have a few days to right their wrongs from last week before the West Virginia Mountaineers head to Austin for a matchup on Saturday.
With the winning team putting itself in the driver’s seat to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game, there is more than enough motivation, but Herman’s inspiration came from a man by the name of Kevin Washington, who does the chapel service for the team.
“He talked about human beings, like an analogy of a sponge,” Herman said. “When you get squeezed, it may look okay on the outside. But when you squeeze a sponge, what’s really inside comes out, and we got squeezed Saturday night.”
In Texas’ Saturday night loss, several things revealed themselves on and off the field.
As far as addressing the on-field issues, coaches made it known to the players that they would get frustrated once they watch the film from the game. The coaches were right.
Senior defensive lineman Chris Nelson and Omenihu both voiced their frustrations as they watched the tape of their defense give up 31 first half points to a team averaging 29 points per game in conference play, which proved to be lethal in the three-point loss.
As for the off-field issues, members of the leadership council held their weekly meeting on Sunday to touch base on the state of the program, including the altercation between senior defensive lineman Breckyn Hager and several Oklahoma State players.
“We talked to Breckyn,” Nelson said. “ We just let him know, juices were flowing and you guys know Breckyn. When he’s high, he’s high. So we just talked to him, sat him down and he told the team that he was sorry for what he did and it won’t happen again.”
With both on-field and off-field mishaps addressed, the Longhorns now have three days left to prepare for No. 13 West Virginia.