Tom Herman doesn’t count moral victories, but Saturday might have been the closest thing to it in his three-year tenure with the Longhorns.
Texas shifts its focus to Rice, which will take place Saturday night at 7 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston. But it’s still quite hard to look past the Longhorns’ 45-38 loss to LSU on Saturday night.
After falling into a 20-7 deficit at halftime, Texas rallied in the second half to make it a game, before Tigers’ quarterback Joe Burrow continued to dominate and took over in the second half.
“There are a lot of positive things we can glean from that game,” Herman said. “Certainly offensively, considering the caliber of defense and caliber of defensive players that we were going up against, we will be a better team for having played that game, and I'm glad we did. There are a lot of positives that will come from that game having been played.”
Burrow finished 31-29 passing for 471 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
It was one oft he best performances Herman has seen in person.
“He threw the ball in spots and in places with the amount of accuracy, it was something to see,” Herman said. “We gotta do better, though. We're going to face really good receivers and really good quarterbacks in this league. We're also not ready to sound all the alarms just set, knowing the caliber of what we just played.”
With a makeshift running back room, the Longhorns finished with 121 yards on the ground, led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger with 60 yards and a touchdown. Converted running back Roschon Johnson had 32yards on seven carries.
Devin Duvernay had his second strong game, catching 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don't know another way to say it, but the anger he runs with once he has the ball in his hands and the physicality is so impressive for a slot receiver,” Herman said. “I’m glad he's on our team. I'm glad he is fully bought in, fully committed, compelled, even, at this point in his career, and, yeah, I would expect much of the same from him.”
Defensively, Herman said defensive back B.J. Foster — who had win tackles and a team-high two sacks against LSU — all be out a couple of weeks with a significant hamstring injury.
Saturday’s game against Rice will be the first time the two teams have faced off since 2017 when Texas won 42-28 in Austin. The Owls are 0-2 on the year with losses for Army and Wake Forest.
Herman was the offensive coordinator at Rice in 2007 and 2008 when the Rice passing scoring and total offense were all ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Saturday will be the sixth game the Longhorns will play in an NFL stadium since 2017, and the last time they were in NRG Stadium finished with a win over Missouri in the 2017 Texas Bowl when Ehlinger was a freshman.
“Anytime you play in a pro stadium it's exciting for our players,” Herman said. “Knowing how many Houstonians we have on our team, it's exciting to go back and play a ball game.”