Texas, which was off last week and moved up to No. 8 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll, opens Big 12 play Saturday at Texas Tech. Head coach Tom Herman just met with reporters on Zoom.
Injuries: Texas may be without its top two slot receivers. Jordan Whittington (torn miniscus) had surgery last week and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks and Jake Smith, who missed the opener with an injury, is continuing his rehab; Herman said they’ll try to get Smith running on Tuesday or Wednesday, and that on “Wednesday or Thursday, we’ll know more.” … Backup tackle Reese Moore has recovered nicely from his knee scope, and Herman said he should be back at practice Tuesday.
The running game: How will carries continue to work? Keaontay Ingram, Roschon Johnson and Bijan Robinson all got about the same number of touches in the opener and all three made plays. Herman was asked if the Horns are looking/waiting for one of those three to emerge as the alpha back. He said to expect more of the committee approach.
“I think an even distribution is what we’re after,” he said. “Especially in 2020, you’re gonna want to make sure those guys stay fresh and healthy. I don’t know that Rochon did anything out of the ordinary (to earn the UTEP start). Keaontay had missed a couple of practices and that set him back a little bit, but I don’t know how more emphatic I can be: I know you guys always want to judge who’s on the first line and the two-deep and who jogs out with the 1’s, but to us, and more importantly to those young men, it’s irrelevant.”
Moore’s path back: Herman was asked about wide receiver Joshua Moore, whose path from four-star recruit to his big season-opening performance has been a rocky one — a 2019 arrest followed by a season-long suspension to leading the team in receiving against UTEP. It’s not a new story now, but it is a good one. “It’s not just what he did, which again be present and accounted for at everything we told him he needed to be, but it was the way he did it and the attitude he had,” Herman said. Our own Brian Davis wrote about Moore’s journey last Friday. It’s worth re-reading here.
Tight ends: Herman was asked about the Horns’ tight ends, which were unusually productive in the opener. Herman said three of the four tight end graded out as “champions” in that game. Three of them had catches, including a touchdown. “I do think, especially with J-Whitt out and Jake on the mend, you’ll see more (tight ends involved), and our guys are versatile enough to do it. They can run and catch but they can also stick their face on people and block them in the run game, too.”
On scouting Tech: Or is it, “scouting” Tech? Texas and Tech have each played one game. Texas blew out UTEP and Tech survived Houston Baptist. But what is either of those games worth when it comes to scouting for each other, really? Herman said he has watched the Tech-HBU game “numerous times.” But then in the same answer, he said the Horns’ game against UTEP “was what it was. We did what we were supposed to do.” He later classified the game this way: “That was our scrimmage,” adding that his starters played about 30 snaps.
Herman was later asked about Tech again, specifically Red Raiders quarterback Alan Bowman, who had a big night against Houston Baptist. “Anytime you throw for 430 yards and lead your team to 630 yards of offense, you’re doing a pretty good job at quarterback,” he said.
Of course, this was Sam Ehlinger’s stat line against UTEP: 426 yards, five touchdowns, and led his team to 689 yards of offense.
Saturday’s game kicks off in Lubbock at 2:30 p.m. It’ll be aired on Fox. The Longhorns (1-0) are favored by 16 1/2 points.