Off weeks are miserable.
“It sucks walking around campus after a loss,” Texas defensive end Breckyn Hager said. “A bye week with that feeling … gosh, we’re ready to go out there and play.”
The Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) had plenty of time to think during the week off, and they came to some simple, clear conclusions. Unfortunately, No. 22 Texas still has a few more days before facing Oklahoma State and its paddle-waiving fans Saturday in Stillwater.
After proper reflection, coach Charlie Strong isn’t dumping defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. They won a national championship together as assistants at Florida in 2008. Joined at the hip in Louisville, they oversaw a Cardinals defense that finished No. 1 nationally in 2013.
Strong called Bedford “an outstanding coach” on Monday and indicated no loss in confidence.
“Right now, you’re three games into it, and I just didn’t see at this point how that would help us,” Strong said. “I just thought more than anything, it would hurt us.”
Strong said the defensive players would try to take the blame for giving up 507 yards against California. And they did. Asked if this team needed a different coordinator, defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. said, “That’s above my pay grade.”
“What’s in-house gets kept in-house,” Boyette said. “I know for the seniors, we really don’t let that bother us, because we have a fantastic coaching staff as a defense. Coach Strong has done a good job of recruiting guys here, not just players, but coaches as well.”
Strong promised again Monday the defense would get fixed. Last week, he indicated younger players like Hager, Malcolm Roach and Brandon Jones would get more playing time.
Anyone looking for lineup changes would’ve been disappointed. The Longhorns pulled the depth chart out of their weekly notes package given to reporters.
“You want me to give you my game plan, huh?,” Strong said. “I got some guys.”
One player Texas won’t have in Stillwater is right guard Kent Perkins, a senior with a team-high 26 career starts. He was arrested on driving while intoxicated charges early Friday and will face a one-game suspension along with required community service and other in-house punishment.
“I want to apologize to my team, my coaches, my family,” Perkins said Monday. “That’s not me, not my character, not what I’m about.”
Strong said he had a firm stance on drinking and driving but still considers Perkins a member of the UT family. “I just wanted him to know this: I still believe in him,” Strong said.
Overall, the Texas players were long past the Cal loss. They’re well into preparation for Oklahoma State, a 2-2 squad coming off a disappointing 35-24 loss to Baylor. The Cowboys had 492 total yards but turned it over twice inside the Bears’ 5-yard line.
“We came together and said it’s just one game. We can’t let that define us,” defensive tackle Chris Nelson said of Cal. “The game is already over. We can’t really drag it out on the last game. We’ve got conference coming up.”
The Texas-OSU series features a statistical anomaly: The home team has not won since 2008. Throughout series history, the Longhorns hold a 24-6 edge and have won eight straight in Stillwater.
“It’s a fantastic environment,” Boyette said. “It’s going to be very hectic for some guys. Playing in the other stadiums, the fans are not there. They’re at least 20 feet from the fans. But there, it’s like they’re three feet away from you.”
Offensive tackle Connor Williams said, “I’ve heard about the paddles and how loud it gets. I might enjoy it.”
Quarterback Shane Buechele reiterated he was fine and not suffering any lingering effects from a rib injury, not that he would admit it anyway. The defense has taken a public blistering over the last week, but Buechele said the offense can sharpen itself, too.
The Longhorns had critical penalties in the third quarter against the Golden Bears and managed only 10 points in the second half. The kicking game wasn’t perfect, either. Trent Domingue missed two field goals.
So there’s room for improvement all the way around.
“Step out of that comfort zone, guys. Let’s go play fast,” Strong said. “I always tell ‘em. We’re are the fastest, most physical team in college football. Let’s go prove it.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.