Updates from Charlie Strong‘s weekly press conference today, looking ahead to Saturday’s game with West Virginia:
He opened things up with some brief comments, essentially calling last Saturday’s 34-13 win over Texas Tech a “complete” win, pointing out Tyrone Swoopes‘ night, Malcolm Brown rushing for 100 yards, the defense clamping Tech down, and even Nick Rose — not for going 2 of 3 on field goals, but for putting kickoffs out of the back of the endzone.
“It was a complete game,” Strong said. “We know we’re not where we should be, but (the goal is) just keep getting better and better.”
With that, the questions began.
On how to establish consistency: “I told our quarterback, it goes as he goes. On defense, it’s all about us playing great defense. That’s the way this team is built.”
Strong remarked that the Tech game was a night for the seniors on the team to shine. “It’s all about them finishing the right way.” He pointed out about how well John Harris (5-165), Brown (22-116-2) and Quandre Diggs (knocked Tech’s starting quarterback out of the game, and forced a fumble). He acknowledged that Cedric Reed didn’t get a sack, but said Reed applied a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Mykkele Thompson got his first pick of the season. Steve Edmond led the team in tackles. And Jordan Hicks played well, too.
Another observation: Last week, breaking away from the coaching “one game at a time” cliche, Strong often took a bigger-picture view of where the Longhorns were at, needing three wins in their last four games to (a) make a bowl game, (b) get the additional bowl practices in December, and (c) finish the season strong.
This week, though, it’s back to the one-game approach. Maybe that’s the difference between getting prepped to play a 3-5 Tech team and a 6-3 West Virginia team that’s ranked No. 24 in the country.
On the team’s confidence level, post-Lubbock: “It’s all about us getting prepared for West Virginia. We know this is an outstanding football team. We haven’t played well at home this season. It’s one by one, so let’s get ready for this one.”
On how involved he gets on offense: “I don’t get involved. We have enough issues on defense, where I’m trying to get that solved.”
The question may have been intended more in terms of game-planning during the week, but Strong understood it more about pertaining to actual games. He started his answer by saying, ‘During the flow of the game, I see how the game is going.”
On John Harris, and where big season has come from: “I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t see this in the spring. … When’s playing well and gets going, the whole offense gets going. It feeds off him.”
Strong said that Saturday night, on that long pass from Swoopes down the left sideline that likely would’ve been a touchdown had Harris been able to come down with it, he asked Harris on the sideline what went wrong. Harris told him that he lost the ball in the lights. “I was joking around and said, ‘Where are the lights at?'”
Strong was asked again about Harris a few minutes later, specifically about the spring. “I said to him during spring, we had a meeting with John because he was one of those guys who’s been here three years and hadn’t done anything. I told him it’s all about his attitude. If he decides he wants to be here, he needs to make his mind up. But then when he came into games, he started playing well. It’s fun to watch him right now.”
On Daje Johnson’s role, moving forward: “Daje’s an outstanding athlete. He’ll get more involved. … He can stretch defenses; once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a playmaker. So fun to watch.”
On getting overconfident, post-Lubbock: “We can’t get overconfident at all. Not us.”
On whether Malcolm Brown is now a 20-25 carry back, or whether it’s still a committee: “You look at Malcolm and J-Gray right now, both of those guys are getting those snaps. When you’re driving the football when you’re in the game, you just stay in and get your touches. You would like to see more 100-yard rushers.”
On whether Texas can survive if this game’s a shootout: “I don’t know if we can with that shootout. You just don’t want to see the defense get caught in a shootout. I’ll get very upset.”
And on whether he talked to the team about the Louisville-Florida State game: “I don’t ever talk about that program. … We’re going to get there. I hope a lot sooner than later. It’s gonna happen. This season is disappointing because I think we can be a lot better than what our record shows. But it’s all about finishing the season and playing with pride. I tell them, we’re a better football team.”
Those were the highlights. Oh, Strong also said he’d wear his long-sleeve burnt orange T-shirt on game days from here on out. Texas is 2-0 with him wearing orange, 2-5 in white.
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