Charlie Strong’s Oklahoma press conference has come and gone. Here are the highlights:
Immediate takeaway: Strong essentially said the TCU game was rock bottom, and maintains that the turnaround — program, team, season — begins this week against No. 10 Oklahoma. Strong laid it out there:
“It’s time for us to pull this team together. It’s a big game, we know what we’re up against, but we’re ready to get going. I know we’re going to play with a lot of passion, a lot of intensity. I know the coaches and players are excited about getting back on the practice field so that the team can get back to work. And I know this is the week where we get this team going.
“We know last week was not the team we know we should be. But it’s going to get better.”
Potential roster shakeups: Strong said he told Nick Rose that “what we’re going to do is open up the competition” this week. And Johnathan Gray is still listed on top of D’Onta Foreman on the depth chart.
Saturday’s team meeting: When the Longhorns landed back in Austin on Saturday, Strong pulled everyone together for an impromptu team meeting. He said he’d only had to do that once before in his career.
“There were some things we needed to discuss. Saturday, I wasn’t going to let them leave here till we got some things straight.”
Injury updates: Right tackle Kent Perkins (knee), who didn’t make the trip to Fort Worth, is day to day. Defensive end Shiro Davis (right knee) is expected back at practice later this week. Daje Johnson (concussion) will continue to be tested and evaluated this week. And linebacker Breckyn Hager has a high ankle sprain, and is day to day.
Strong two-steps: Remember that juke move Josh Doctson had last Saturday? Strong outdid him on two questions today — How and why did the special teams end up being split among the coaching staff; and would he consider making a change at defensive coordinator or take over defensive play-calling duties himself? Strong gave answers, just not to those specific questions — regarding special teams, he answered by saying the problems were with execution, not coverage; regarding defense, he said the Horns are hurting themselves in terms of breakdowns, fundamentals and execution.
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Other questions and answers of note:
How far away is this team?: “Not far away at all. We know we can do better ourselves, and be more focused. We’re a better football team than that, without a doubt.”
With the fans panicking, how does the team stay confident?: “You’ve got to believe in the mission and have confidence in our players. It does look gloomy because of what happened, but it’s more of what I keep saying: I don’t think that was our team, and we can play much better than what we played. And the coaching. That game was on me.”
On whether the national media criticisms are affecting recruiting: “As far as recruiting, this is the University of Texas, and players are gonna want to come here. The ones who really want to come here are gonna come here anyway. … We can get it turned. You know what? You win, it’ll happen for you.”
On whether these players actually care, or if they’re hurting, too: “I know they’re young, but they do hurt. It hurt them at halftime on Saturday, and it hurt them after the game. I had some guys stand up and say it was their fault. No, no, no. We all did it. I played my part in this. We all did it. But they feel it. They want to win, too. We can get the problem fixed. It’s all about us playing together and playing as a team.”
And just how exactly do you fix the problems on the offensive and defensive lines in time to play Oklahoma?: “You just have to be physical at the point of attack, and you have to win the line of scrimmage. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run.”
On Jerrod Heard’s confidence: “He just felt so bad. I told him the thing you can’t do is lose who you are. You have a ton of confidence. You can’t just let one game where all of a sudden you don’t continue to compete. But that won’t happen with him. He can bounce back.”
On tweetgate: “Kris Boyd did apologize to the team. Sometimes it’s just immaturity. … I don’t know when it happened. We’ll handle discipline from within. When we have a team meeting, they can’t have a phone in the room. He will play against OU.”
On his future at Texas: “Every day’s a battle. Every day I come in knowing it’s my job to make sure this program is represented the right way, and going out to win football games and going out and developing young men. That’s every day.”
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