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Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Weather only heats up Cougars’ winning mentality


Head coach Tom Herman does not let torrential downpours prevent his team from getting practice reps in. | Reagan Earnst/The Cougar

The Cougars are 10 days away from what is arguable the most important game in the history of the University’s football program.

With presumed Big 12 Conference implications on the line against the conference’s top team, head coach Tom Herman has been hard at work on preparing the Cougars for Sept. 3.

Herman addressed media questions in a noticeably hoarse voice. When asked about his unusually scratchy delivery, he made it clear that it was not because of illness, but rather screaming.

“Yesterday was a monsoon,” Herman said, following last Wednesday’s practice. “To say that was great work, it wasn’t, it was very sloppy from an execution standpoint. Like I’ve said before, we train for chaos, and that’s pretty chaotic when it’s raining sideways for an hour during practice and you’re trying to fight through it and focus in on your job.”

Drenched practices aside, the wet weather lowered the temperatures to the delight of the team. The players have grown far too accustomed to bettering their skills in 100-plus degrees.

Herman believes that being on the field getting mental reps and running is beneficial to the team, even with the sloppiness.

“When life gives you lemons you try to make lemonade,” Herman said. “You try to turn them into teaching moments about adapting, overcoming, locking in and focusing through whatever anybody or anything throws at you. We use them as teaching tools, but I’d rather not have to.”

But the head coach likes what he has seen from his team so far in fall camp. What impressed him most is the defensive line’s progress and the fits they are causing for the offensive unit.

Stamina is running low, however. Two-a-day practices are now on for multiple times in a week. There is also a full schedule of team-related activities taking place when players are not at practice.

“They’re really tired and that’s by design,” Herman said. “There’s a system to how we do things and right now it’s about grinding through and pushing through the wall. We’ve got to do a really good job these next few practices of taking care of our bodies like professional athletes.”

It is clear that Herman has no problem getting players to buy in to the unique culture that he establishes as the head coach of the program.

Although the team seems lackadaisical in practice on some days, they rebound right after with exceptional effort nearly every time. Herman said that learning to do the little things to the very best of your ability every day will be beneficial toward a career in the NFL or in the real world.

Now entering the latter parts of fall workouts, the team will begin to shift their focus to the game against the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

“The beauty of training camp is you have 29 practices to get ready,” Herman said. “The first half is all about us, all about our culture, all about developing players and our identity. Come Monday we’re scaling back the physicality and getting mentally ready for Oklahoma.”

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