Posted on January 8, by Ben Hartman It was at a shitty pizza place in south Austin that I first realized sports dreams come true sometimes. This kid would never play football, but he would watch many games. The Horns were three touchdown underdogs against a Nebraska team that was undefeated in the peak of the Tom Osborne era, best place to watch longhorn football in northwest austin they were every bit what Alabama is today. They were giants and we — mighty, filthy rich Texas — were all but lost in the football wilderness, still clinging to that last championship back inperennial underachievers suddenly cast in the role of giant killers. The Drag was a teeming mass of disbelieving UT fans, savoring the greatest thing you can ever be as a sports fan — the victor who never dreamed he could pull it off.
Terrell Owens stood alone in a Longhorn hoodie, wearing sunglasses well after dark. Star senior wide receiver Collin Johnson, who had actually delivered the pregame prayer, proceeded to dive Pete Rose style in an all-out attempt to answer one.
A Devin Duvernay touchdown catch had cut the LSU lead to seven and allowed the throbbing masses to cling to the tiniest morsel of hope. Yahoo Sports spent a week embedded with the Longhorns to examine everything that built up to this climactic moment — the playoff stakes, aura of alleged SEC superiority and a heated recruiting rivalry.
And it all played out amid a frenetic backdrop with everything from mandatory team dancing and pillow fights to hundreds of messages — some threatening, racist and homophobic — sent by LSU fans to Ehlinger and the coaching staff.
With a matchup looming next season in Baton Rouge, it all felt like something bigger. We don't change around here, right? We don't change anything. There are hard-hitting full-pad practices on Tuesdays, demands for strain and constant pleas to push through the edge.
Those are complemented by an environment where fun is mandatory, and each day unfolds with a rollicking vibe. They headed to their new adventure at the University of Houston, where Herman was named coach.
Even the water break stations are called Club H20, and all team meetings and special teams meetings kick off with players bobbing and dancing to rappers like Young Thug.
How different is this Texas operation? Game-day traditions include obstacle courses with pillow fights and dance circles. As he pushed the program toward a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia last year, Herman has stayed true to the experiment. He even trick-or-treated in Austin with his sons and another suburban dad — his buddy Mark Brady — who was dressed as Tom Herman for Halloween.
Prior to the season, Herman called Dabo Swinney to pick his brain on culture.
You're not going to out-talent these guys. You're not. So how do you win? Your training. You're trained to be the hardest-playing, most physical team in the country.
That's the way we train. Primal screams accompany the din, and when two strength coaches unlock the doors at precisely a. Standing poker-faced amid the roar is Yancy McKnight, the head Texas strength coach, who looks like an extra from a Slayer video.
Their collective methods are a mix of unconventional techniques, like breathing exercises and karate chops to help activate the nervous system. The Catapult GPS monitoring measures things like speed, as 21 miles per hour is a blazing number for a receiver like Duvernay.
It also tracks change of direction, volume of yardage, accelerations and decelerations. Knowing the output means more work can be done in less time, as practice times are arranged accordingly with the help of associate director of sports science Matt Van Dyke.
During LSU week, practice periods dropped from 18 to 16 to 14 periods. Strength staff members monitored the hamstring on each rep he took on an iPhone app. They could see precisely the point where fatigue altered the workout, compromised the movement in that area and increased the risk of injury.
They had one player drafted in both and NFL scouts credit Strong for changing the tenor of the weight-room culture, which McKnight continued. But can they hold up to an SEC stalwart? The offensive staff room is where the coaches shackle themselves during the day, a football laboratory that has graduate-level discussions with the occasional frat-house touches.
Flatulence is common and hardly discouraged. The offensive staff room table has a fingernail clipper nestled up next to a Purell bottle, packages of caffeinated Rev gum scattered on the table and piles of pepitas salad toppings. It also moonlights as the quarterback meeting room, as Ehlinger is clearly at home when he ducks in on Wednesday night for extra film with his backup, Casey Thompson.
Ehlinger reflected back to his first big game as a Longhorn, at USC as a true freshman in Ehlinger led a play, yard fourth-quarter drive to give the Longhorns the lead in the final minute.
I thought I knew what I was doing. Looking back, I knew what our offense was doing. I had no idea what USC was doing. I was just looking for an open guy. That involves digesting about different play concepts and a near-infinite amount of plays, as those concepts can be run from a dozen different formations.
Each week in the staff room, Texas coaches pare the infinite play possibilities down to about 40 base calls for conventional down-and-distance plays — 20 run and 20 pass. The call sheet ends up with about overall calls available for LSU — the other 60 situational such as fourth-down and third-and-long and two-point conversions.
To winnow the options, the staff starts with a hour day Monday — Put Em Up Monday — where they ponder the possibilities. The plays themselves are treated like political candidates, their strengths debated against various fronts, looks and coverages.
Each of their values is questioned situationally. The plays are practiced and pored over on practice film, with Ehlinger and Thompson being rapid-fire quizzed by Beck. The infamous Sleep play — renamed Bozo Deep at Texas — has since been put to sleep itself from lack of use, which triggered some gentle mockery of Hand.
With so much brain power — including Fedora and former Kansas State offensive coordinator Andre Coleman serving as analysts — comes danger.