Charlie Strong’s final regular-season press conference has come and gone. Here are the highlights:
QB Jerrod Heard (concussion) is day to day. He’s been cleared to practice. Tyrone Swoopes will start Saturday’s game, and it sounds like Heard might be used only if needed.
RB D’Onta Foreman (finger surgery two weeks ago) will not play. Neither will backup running back Kirk Johnson. Jonathan Gray is day to day, and Strong said “there’s a good chance he’ll be back,” but it sounds like Chris Warren III, coming off the huge Thanksgiving night game, will start in Waco.
RG Patrick Vahe (knee) is questionable. He’s been out since the West Virginia loss.
LB Malik Jefferson (ankle) is questionable. He left in the first half against Texas Tech and didn’t return. And LB Peter Jinkens (knee) is out.
On whether Heard should just sit this one out: “The thing about Jerrod, he’s such a competitor. I know he’s got a concussion — I don’t know how serious, but it was a concussion. We may not need him; if Swoopes plays well, maybe not.
On how to get Swoopes off to a good start: “The key thing for us, we need to start off fast. Make sure we put him in position where they’re positive plays and good things happen to him. The other night we just didn’t make the connections, we had some dropped balls. It’s all about rhythm, and keeping him in rhythm at a good pace.”
On whether he’s already started evaluations of assistant coaches: “At the end of every year, I sit down with each coach and just talk to them.”
On whether he’s already contacted TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie: “No, I haven’t.”
On whether he’d want to go to a bowl as a 5-7 team: “I’m worried about just beating Baylor.”
On his worries about keeping his team motivated: “It’s still about guys being competitive. We know we have injuries. Even during the (Tech) game, I don’t think a big deal was made about it. I think our guys can still go out and compete. They know it’s their last game, and for the seniors it is their last game. Some of them may never put on a uniform at all.”
On Chris Warren: “We always felt Chris Warren had a lot of ability. Early in the season he was nursing injuries, had a high ankle (sprain), but he’s one of those players that’s always been focused. He’s very mature for his age. If you tell him something, he’s going to hold you to it. I felt like he would have a big game. He’s one of those guys, the longer the game goes, the stronger he gets.”
On what recruiting pieces are still needed: “You want to make sure you get all the pieces in recruiting. We’re starting two freshmen on the offensive line, so you need to get offensive line. You always recruit offensive and defensive line. The skill guys, you will always be able to find them. We need more guys there (on the lines). Once we build there at those two positions, you can be in place to get where we need to go to.”
On the prospects of making a late December/January recruiting push: “We go and see every player that’s still sitting there. We’re in their homes. We made a ton of visits last night, (and) we’ll see some tonight. We want to make sure the ones that are still sitting there, we have the opportunity to go get them, and go get them. … We have until February to go chase them down. We’re gonna get the guys we need to go get. Some, we’re going to lose. But you can’t be afraid to go recruit them.”
The funniest moment? When our own Kirk Bohls asked if, in hindsight, whether Strong was surprised that Texas beat Oklahoma — and whether teams like Alabama and Clemson might call him for advice.
Strong’s response: “I don’t know why.”
He then added: “Theres always the game to set you up and say, there’s the game, now go take off. We never took off. I told the guys (on Sunday), you see some of those games Saturday — why can’t we play like that? What’s holding us back? A lot of times, it’s team chemistry and guys playing together. You’ve got to play for what’s across your chest (TEXAS).”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 11 a.m. on ESPN. It’ll be the Longhorns’ second ESPN game of the season, and the first since the 30-27 loss to Oklahoma State on Sept. 26.
Baylor is a 20-point favorite.
The last five Texas-Baylor results:
2014: Baylor, 28-7 (DKR)
2013: Baylor, 30-10 (Waco)
2012: Texas, 56-50 (DKR)
2011: Baylor, 48-24 (Waco)
2010: Bayor, 30-22 (DKR)
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