Plenty of stats, rankings and national opinions illustrate the evolution of Texas’ football season.
So did the screen on coach Tom Herman’s cell phone after his team’s fifth straight win, a 48-45 win over Oklahoma that has the Longhorns up to ninth in the AP Top 25.
Herman checked his cell just before a Sunday afternoon team meeting to prepare for Saturday’s game with Baylor and saw 197 text messages since the OU victory.
“I got nine after we lost to Maryland,” Herman said. “I got nine.”
Herman saw a way to deliver a message to his players in handling the newfound success.
“So I think these guys understand that the people in that locker room and the people in our program are the ones that are going to love ’em and be by their side regardless of outcome, regardless of ranking, regardless of what is said about ’em,” Herman said.
Texas players seem to be on the same page. Senior Breckyn Hager, one of Texas’ captains, talked after Oklahoma about how toxic the fans were after the Maryland game.
If anyone was expecting a belated end zone celebration Monday by Herman, they were disappointed.
He’s not buying into the hype. Nor does he want his players to ahead of Baylor (4-2, 2-1 Big 12), which is just two wins away from bowl eligibility and has a “ridiculously” high-powered offense, according to Herman.
As he has done before, Herman referenced the previous four seasons, when Texas went an underwhelming 23-27. Herman said he voted Texas 11th on his Amway Coaches Poll ballot but acknowledged his knowledge of the national scene is limited beyond his team.
“I don’t think we’re at a place right now where you can say winning is expected and I think that’s OK,” Herman said. “It is nice to know that for the most part, if we do play our best, our best is good enough, but that’s more the expectation than expecting to win.
“I just think there is a level of arrogance maybe that comes with expecting to win that I don’t know that I ever really want our guys to have. I want them to understand that each week is a freakin’ battle.”
Herman said he was proud of his team for weathering Oklahoma’s furious fourth-quarter comeback, led by quarterback Kyler Murray.
But he was even more gratified by the way players “came to work” Sunday, embracing the 1-0 mentality that Herman has tried to instill week after week.
Herman’s mantra was the same after Oklahoma as after Maryland – that one game won’t define Texas’ season.
In reality, all Texas has done now is position itself for a meaningful second half of the season. Six more games remain on the regular-season schedule, including a home showdown with No. 6 West Virginia and potentially problematic road games at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and, yes, Kansas, for those who remember what happened in 2016.
But it’s still a better position than Texas has found itself in since 2013, during Mack Brown’s final season.
“There is no midseason conference championship trophy,” said Herman, noting the presence of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby at Texas-OU. “He didn’t handout a midseason conference championship trophy. There is a lot of season left. A lot.”
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