It’s a Tom Herman utopia.
With his second spring football season about to commence, the Texas coach waxed poetic on Monday about how good feels about this group in the area of team chemistry.
“We have guys that want to be here,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of positivity in that locker room right now … very very minute amounts of negativity or anti-establishment or defiance. It just doesn’t exist. There was more of that last year than there is now.”
Of course Tom isn’t about to name names because I guess those would-be malcontents are no longer part of the programs. For the players coming back and new staffers like co-offensive/offensive line coach Herb Hand, the 2018 season represents a chance to take a huge step forward after some sunshine peeped through that three-year cloud cover that was the 16-21 Charlie Strong era. The Horns will enter the fall as a team coming off a winning season for the first time since Mack Brown left the program.
“The bowl game really showed the guys in that locker room what they’re capable of,” Herman said. Then later…”The sentiment in that locker room was ‘Wow we can do this and we can do it at a really level if we stay really positive and we stay aligned with what we’re doing.”
Can’t wait to see what Hand brings to this offense, especially in the area of play calling.
Who will call the plays? Will it be Tim Beck, who was under fire much of 2017? Will it be Hand, who comes over from a successful run at Auburn? Or will it be Herman, who took over the reins in the bowl game?
Herman was predictably non-committal in this area but the addition of Hand is huge because he has been part of such balanced offenses in the SEC. At Auburn, he was part of an offense that was one of only five in the country to average at least 230 yards passing and 215 yards rushing per game.
Hand has already brought a change to the practice itinerary in that the team has already added a blitz pickup drill.
He inherits an offensive line that loses All-American Connor Williams and Jake McMillon but returns several experienced hands up front. It will always begin and end at quarterback and Herman says he will handle the position like he did last season: the player who practices best will get the play.
So take in this spring football fever while you can, friends. Every team in America is in the title hunt in March at this time of the year. Enjoy it while you can.
At the end of my conversation with Texas sophomore guard Andrew Jones Saturday, I mentioned the possibility of him rejoining Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach next season.
Speaking of Roach, he was asked following that heartbreaker to Nevada if he had thought about his future, which was code speak for, “Hey Snoop, are you coming back for your senior year or are you going to turn pro?”
“I’m not talking about that right now,” he said.
Here’s what should happen. Snoop should call Duke’s Grayson Allen, Kansas Devonte’ Graham, and and West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and ask them how coming back to school for their senior seasons worked out. Each will have a positive story to relay, I suspect.
Follow their lead, Snoop. Come back next season, get your degree and improve your draft stock.
Cool celebrity story here.
I walked up to baggage claim at the Austin Airport Saturday morning and saw Spectrum News sports guys colleagues Ricky Doyle and Travis Recek there.
“We’re trying to figure out if the guy over there is (celebrity),” Ricky said.
I glanced over and saw the guy and said, “That’s definitely him. He’s always in a ballcap.”
So I walk over and there’s this guy in a black suit standing near the carousel a few feet from the celebrity. His driver, I figured. I glanced at the celebrity. Definitely him. I nodded over at Ricky and Travis.
“You’re Cedric Golden,” the driver said. “I loved your column on Augie.”
“Thanks. He was one of a kind. We had some good times together. I was just telling my friends over there that I was coming over to see if that was (celebrity). It’s really him.”
I looked up and the celebrity is coming over. He had been listening the whole time.
“Mr. Golden is the smartest man on the plane,” he said to the driver, extending his hand to me. “He went straight to the exit row seat with the extra leg room.”
It was a cool way to start the day. Ten minutes with Bill Murray. We spent the next 10 minutes talking about the NCAA Tournament. Murray was in the Nashville cheering on Xavier and his son Luke, who is an assistant coach with the Musketeers. He was in town for some South By festivities and an appearance with the UT Moody College of Communication.
In case you’re wondering, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters and What About Bob? are my favorite Murray flicks.