Texas feeling refreshed ahead of trip to West Virginia


Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger turned 21 years old on Monday. 

It’s been more than two decades since head coach Tom Herman reached that milestone.

“It was so long ago I can’t remember,” Herman said. “Maybe that does have a lot to do with what I did that day.”

The Longhorns are refreshed coming off their first bye week, ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll and fresh off their first win over Oklahoma State since Herman took over as head coach, an important four-game stretch begin Saturday afternoon when Texas travels to face West Virginia. 

“I've got a ton of respect for (first-year West Virginia coach Neal) Brown,” Herman said. “The one thing that jumps off the film is they're playing really hard and physical. They try to get their athletes on offense in space, and what they do in the secondary is a little bit unique, so it will be a good test for both sides of the ball.”

West Virginia is 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big 12 play, coming off a bye last week and a 29-24 win at Kansas two weeks ago. 

The Mountaineers are without their top two skill players that helped them upset the Longhorns in Austin last season. And former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen is now just down the road in Houston. 

“For a lot of these young guys it will be the first time they get on an airplane to go to a game,” Herman said. And this venue is a very difficult one to play in. When the ball is kicked off, where you're playing the game is irrelevant, if we choose to make it that way. To allow an opposing crowd or the fact that you're on the road affect your play, that's a choice that you make, and hopefully, most of our guys choose opposite of that.”

Herman said Monday that B.J. Foster practiced on Sunday and would be probable for Saturday’s game. Receiver Collin Johnson and linebacker DeMarvion Overshown will try to practice this week. 

The Texas secondary took a few major hits in the win over the Cowboys, most notably sophomore defensive back Caden Sterns, but the Longhorns proved they have some depth, holding Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard to 121 yards. 

Hubbard ran for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ upset win over Kansas State on Saturday. 

“It kind of makes us all pretty staunch believers in our run defense,” Herman said. “I don’t know if it’s a ‘hold the fort’ mentality. We’re going to miss (the guys that are injured) for the length of time they’re out. We’re pretty confident with the guys that we will be rolling out there this Saturday and for the weeks coming forward.”

Texas is 18-5 all-time in Big 12 openers, and 2-0 under Herman. Overall, the Longhorns are 2-1 against West Virginia when the teams face off in Morgantown. 

Herman was tasked with returning the Longhorns to the national spotlight when he took the top job two seasons ago. Texas has a pair of bowl wins and finished ranked in the top 25 in each of the last two seasons. 

But the grind never stops. 

“We're not far enough along in the development of our program to have any sense of enjoying prosperity,” Herman said. “We've got to come to work every day to get better. It's unfathomable that anybody at this stage we're in could feel anything resembling comfortability.”

Follow @ByZachSmith and @HCNSports on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on all local and regional sports.