In his first availability with the media following bowl selection Sunday on Dec. 7, Texas coach Charlie Strong today covered a wide range of topics, from the Dec. 29 Texas Bowl matchup with Arkansas to recruiting to Tyrone Swoopes to his thoughts on his first season.
On to the good stuff.
Bowl prep: The Longhorns will leave Austin for Houston on Dec. 24 in anticipation of the Dec. 29 bowl game. They’ll spend Christmas with each other.
Recruiting: Strong said he wants four or five offensive linemen in the 2015 class, along with a couple of linebackers, a receiver, a cornerback and a quarterback.
Texas has 20 pledges so far — 2 quarterbacks, 2 receivers, 1 running back, 1 center, 1 guard, 4 tackles, 3 defensive ends, 1 defensive tackle, 1 inside linebacker, 1 outside linebacker, 2 safeties and 2 athletes.
The Horns lost a pledge yesterday — their highest-rated recruit, four-star tackle Toby Weathersby from Spring Westfield — and also lost the chance at another one when Indianapolis linebacker Darren Kirkland Jr. chose Tennessee over Texas. But they did pick up a three-star ‘backer on Monday, though, in Cecil Cherry of Lakeland, Fla.
Galena Park North Shore lineman Tyler Moore is expected to announce today. Texas is on his final list. And the big prize comes Friday, when Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson — a five-star gem and the No. 1 recruit in the state — announces his choice between Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and UCLA.
“It’s all about us recruiting and building it with recruiting,” Strong said. “We have really good players now. Just athletically, we’re going to get everything we need, so it’s all about making sure we got the right fit into this program. We don’t need to be mediocre. That’s not who we are. We want to recruit players who really love football and want to do something special with their life.”
On Arkansas: “They played a close game against Alabama, and a close game against A&M. They’ve been in close games that they just didn’t finish. They haven’t turned the football over, they’ve just been in those close games. They go blow out LSU and then they blow out Ole Miss. It’s a good football team, but at the right time, they just didn’t win those close games.”
On his first season: “Up and down. We could’ve played a lot better than what we played. I said to my staff, we lose six games … don’t ever let that be the standard here. You look at the (close) UCLA game, and the (close) Oklahoma game. The thing that’s frustrating and disappointing is when you get into a game like BYU and boom, you give up so many points; TCU, you give up so many points; K-State, you end up losing 23 to nothing. We could’ve played a lot better than how we played. We have to get a lot better.”
On the team’s inconsistency: “It’s a combination of things, not only the young QB and the young offensive line. There were times when you were sitting there in the games, tight, 6-0 BYU at the half, now let’s go play the second half and we didn’t show up to play in the second half. That happened a lot. We didn’t do a good job of finishing.”
On first-year regrets: “The only thing I ever regret is I just think we could’ve played a lot better. Soemtimes that eats you, and it should. I just think we’re a better football team than a 6-6 team. It’s just a pride factor. I just think that sometimes we didn’t show that.”
On Jerrod Heard: “When we get to spring ball, they’re all going to compete. The thing about Jerrod is when you come and have to face it each and every day, and it moves so fast for you sometimes, you’ve got to slow him down. We’re just continuing to coach him.”
On Swoopes, after the TCU game: “He’s had a lot of time. The thing about players, when they look at a game, for them it’s one day and they’re over with it. You walk into a room the next day and sometimes you can’t tell. The thing about him is he needs to play well in this next one. You can’t let one (game) beat you twice. It’ll get better for him. I don’t know exactly what I said (to Swoopes, after the TCU game), but I said this — You’re our quarterback and you have to play a lot better than what you played.”
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