It’s been nine days since we last heard from Charlie Strong. There certainly have been developments, though:
- Texas received two commitments for its 2017 recruiting class — 4-star defensive end Lagaryonn Carson (Liberty-Elau), who’s Texas’ highest-rated commitment so far for that class, and 3-stars tight end Major Tennison (Bullard).
- Former Longhorn Kendall Sanders was acquitted of his felony sexual assault charges.
- And Bevo XIV, who saw one national championship game win, another championship game loss, the end of the Mack Brown era and the start of the Charlie Strong era, died on Friday.
On Monday, Strong held his usual game week press conference. There was a noticeable difference than the last time he was gathered in front of us on a Monday, two days after the TCU debacle and staring at Oklahoma on the schedule. He was upbeat, the questions he got were filtered more toward overconfidence and momentum, not whether he’d lost his team. He stayed around for a few minutes conversing with reporters.
Injury updates: Besides LB Edwin Freeman, Strong expects everyone else on UT’s injury list to be able to play against Kansas State. That includes right tackle Kent Perkins, receiver/returner Daje Johnson, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and possibly linebacker Breckyn Hager, though Strong said he wasn’t sure if the freshman would be 100 percent by Saturday.
On whether the goals have changed to start focusing on making a bowl game: “It’s game by game. You just have to be ready, be prepared, just be focused. You play so well against Oklahoma, now we can’t take a step back. We’ve got six left, let’s just take them one at a time. It’s Kansas State now. We control our own destiny. We just have to be ready to play.”
On whether players have now bought in, post-OU: “The players have bought in. I was never concerned about them. When you have a win like that, where you sit on the edge of everything, to have a win like that trying to get over the hump, now that it has happened, you just hope the confidence builds on and on.”
On whether Texas has found its offensive identity: “We want to be the team that controls the line of scrimmage. Always. It all starts up front. If you’re able to run the football, and then stop the run (on defense), then you’ll develop an identity.”
On whether he’d consider taking Kendall Sanders back, if Sanders is allowed to re-enroll: “We’ll sit down as a staff and have that conversation with a lot of people.”
On the team’s mentality: “I guess so much had just happened prior to that game, when you talk about so much was said, and a lot of times I don’t listen to it, but when you talk about losing your team — we had never lost our team. When they talk about losing our locker room, you sit back and say wow, I guess someone’s in there — because we never lost it. They’re still going to work and do everything they ask you to do. It was never where the (sky) was falling on us. I was so excited for our players more than anything because so much had been said about them.”
On fixing Jerrod Heard, the passer: “Whatever teams will give you is what you’ll take advantage of. And he can throw the football. (Against Oklahoma) the defense was playing well and the backs were running hard, and even Jerrod was running well. So whatever they give you.”
On whether Texas made a defensive breakthrough against OU: “Defense is all about disruption. You talk about rhythm and disrupting the rhythm of the offense. They played so well on defense because they knew all the weapons that OU had. You’ve got to start off good on defense. Once you set the tone there, then everything else fell in place. It’s got to be where you continue to play like that. You can’t take a dip. You’ve got to remain consistent throughout the whole game.”
On how the staff has been doing, after the play-calling shakeup: “Offensively it’s coming together well with Jay (Norvell). They’re all professionals, so they all work together. You’ve got a bunch of guys with a lot of experience, a lot of years coaching. It’s all about putting a plan together so we can go out and win the game.”
Saturday’s kickoff is at 11 a.m. It’ll be Texas’ third straight 11 a.m. game. Kansas State, which is coming off a 55-0 loss to Oklahoma, leads the all-time series with the Horns, 9-6. Texas is 5-3 vs. Kansas State at home, though.
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