Texas opened the 2015 season with a thud. A program looking to find its way and once again be the top program in the state of Texas left South Bend with a 38-3 loss. On Monday, Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong made it known to all that is simply not acceptable. Of course, he didn’t need to say that to anyone. We already knew that, but at least Strong has acknowledged it head on.
“(Saturday’s outcome) is not acceptable,” Strong said during his Monday press conference (via The Dallas Morning News). “As coaches we know we have to coach better, and as players we know we have to play a lot better. It’s something you want to restart the season and push that button, and we went back to work last night, had the players out on Sunday, and what we do on Sundays is we go back out and just do a small focus on Rice, but we go back to the game on Saturday and it’s all about corrections and taking our time with plays that didn’t work and how we can get better and how we can improve.”
Strong, in his own words, said the coaches and players must do better moving forward. I’m sure he would be the first to admit he can do more as well, because Strong comes off as an accountable coach capable of realizing when he may have fallen short in his own responsibilities. His follow-up comments suggest he is already taking some blame (or perhaps he is putting more blame on his offensive coordinators, Joe Wickline and Shawn Watson.
“(Offensive struggles) cannot happen,” Strong said. “We have some talented players there. You look at Johnathan Gray, he touched the ball eight times the other night. He’s a back that needs the ball. The ball needs to be fed to him anywhere from 15 to 20 to 25 times … We have some athletes there on offense there. We’ve just got to do a better job of spreading the ball around and making sure that the right guys get the touches.”
Pay attention to how much active Gray is in the Texas offense this week against Rice. Gray getting the football 20 times will surely be no coincidence. Strong also acknowledged the lack of advertised up-tempo offense against Notre Dame.
“We said we were going to be up tempo. There was no up tempo. We said we were going to do this … But there’s got to be hope and there’s got to be progress.”
In the grand scheme of things, the job Strong was undertaking at Texas was always going to be a multi-year reconstruction rather than a one-year patch work fix for the Longhorns. In defense of Texas, they have allowed Strong to run his program his way by setting his bar to his liking and not acepting anyhting less. Given his work at Louisville, Texas is wise to allow Strong to continue molding things to his liking. But Texas is a bit different than some other programs. With big money donors and resources few schools have at their luxury, the pressure on Strong may be a bit different than other places. The 2016 season is supposed to be Year 2 of the renovation plan for Strong, and there is still plenty of football to be played to show those desired signs of progress. One massive blow on the road against Notre Dame was certainly not the best way to get things started, but now that it is out of the way Strong and company can focus on what to do next to ensure this program is still being steered in the right direction.