Tom Herman: 'We don't care about mistakes. We'll fix that in the meeting room'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday March 22, 2017

When a reporter told Tom Herman that Texas had zero defensive or special teams touchdowns last year, his eyes got big and he responded, “Wow.”

Herman has taken over a Longhorn team coming off three straight losing seasons and two bowl-less seasons. Spring football is the time for installation of a new system, but on the field, he’s only worried about effort right now. The coaches don’t need to correct scheme mistakes immediately yet.

You want to install it all early, because they have to be exposed to it, mentally. But then at the same time, the two hours you’re on the field, you tell them, ‘We don’t care about mistakes. We’ll fix the mistakes in the meeting room,’” Herman said. “We care about effort and ball security. That’s it. We want to see you running to the football to the echo of the whistle on defense and on offense, and protect the ball on offense. Then we’ll correct all the mistakes.

“You have to introduce that to them, or you stunt their growth and they don’t have anything to practice on their own and in the player-led stuff. You install it, you overflow the bucket, and whatever spills out you put back in through spring ball. But the two hours we’re on the field, everything is about effort and ball security. Then you coach the scheme in the meeting room.”

The other aspect Herman and coaches are trying to teach is physicality.

Herman notably had very physical practices at Houston. He doesn’t like the physicality of the Longhorns yet, but he sees a willingness to get there. That doesn’t mean cheap shots in practice, but emphasis in clean hits.

“The boundary is form tackle, no cheap shots,” Herman said. “Great form and blocking, on both sides. No peel-back de-cleaters. We don’t cut on the backside of any plays, even when we’re live. Only cut on the front side. We don’t tackle from behind. If we do, it’s diving at the legs, not horse-collar or grab anybody from behind. We coach how to have physical practice without being silly and reckless. Those are the major coaching points.”

Are they willing to be as physical as Herman wants?

“Willing? Yes. Do they or are they are two different questions,” he said. “Is it a physical team? No. Are they willing to be? Yes.”

Texas’ spring game is scheduled for April 15.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to