Are the Longhorns even having fun anymore? Texas players talk focus, feelings and football
Texas running back Roschon Johnson met with the media for nearly 15 minutes on Tuesday.
To quickly summarize, Johnson said he’s feeling fine despite making a recent appearance on the injury report. He was critical of his own leadership skills and crowned Jerrin Thompson and Morice Blackwell as young leaders on the roster. He sympathized with frustrated fans, but noted that “I'm not a fan at this point, so I'm doing what I can to make sure we win.”
He also was asked about the Longhorns (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) being mired in a four-game losing streak. Is that, for lack of a better word, miserable?
"As a competitor, you aim to win. I don't think anybody that's here is satisfied with losing," Johnson said. "Miserable, that's a tough word for right now. I mean, obviously, when you go through a game and you lose, it's not the most exciting feeling in the world."
So maybe "miserable" isn't the right word. How about deflating? Confusing?
Texas has led at halftime in each of these last four losses. In three of those, the Longhorns led in the fourth quarter. Last Saturday's 30-7 loss at Iowa State was UT's most lopsided loss since 2015.
"At the end of the day, you got to come back to the drawing board and see what you can get better from," Johnson said. "I feel like there's light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that we know we're capable of. It's not like we're not even putting up a fight or not even having close games."
The four-game skid has left the Longhorns looking for answers. On Monday, tight end Cade Brewer theorized that players were just simply not having fun.
Amid UT's longest in-season losing streak since 2010, Brewer's idea is easy to dismiss. Schemes, depth chart shakeups and changes to the coaching staff would seem like more tangible topics to discuss. Brewer, however, argued that football is still a game and that the Longhorns have become uptight on the field.
"We've just got to, like I've been saying, have fun out there," Brewer said. "I think that's what we've been lacking these past four weeks. We've been too tight. We've just got to have some fun out there and just play the game we love."
So how do you have fun while the final score is anything but? Safety Brenden Schooler and offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter said they found joy in just playing the game. Kerstetter, a fifth-year senior who suffered a gruesome ankle injury last year, remarked that football is "the reason y'all are here and that's the reason that I'm here."
"I try not to look up at the scoreboard during games," Schooler said. "I just try to control what I can control, do my best, bring the most positive energy I can bring to the team, winning or losing. To answer your question, I'm still having fun playing football."
Of course, winning is also fun. Texas will attempt to do just that at home against Kansas (1-8, 0-6) on Saturday night.
With a win, Texas would move within one win of securing a bowl bid. The Longhorns still have a trip to West Virginia and a home game against Kansas State left on the schedule.
"Winning definitely makes football a lot more fun," Kerstetter said. "But I still have fun playing football."
Kansas at Texas, 6:30 p.m., FS1, 104.9